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In a San Francisco Kitchen, Chefs are re-creating everyday new Plant-based food

Scientists re-created a hamburger patty out of proteins from yellow peas, soy and beets for the look of blood

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New Generation companies are looking for methods to re-create food. Pixabay

San Francisco/ Los Angeles, May 26, 2017: In a San Francisco kitchen, chefs are re-creating everyday foods, such as eggs, mayonnaise, salad dressings and cookies from unconventional sources.

“Playing with ingredients that are totally different in the food system is a lot like walking on the moon. We’re doing things no one has ever done before so it’s challenging,” said chef Chris Jones, who heads product development at the Hampton Creek technology company.

While vegetarian foods have been around as long as there have been vegetarians, a new generation of companies, mostly from California, is using new technology to look for alternative protein sources that do not come from an animal.

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Hampton Creek

Hampton Creek uses robotics to identify plants from around the world that can help re-create traditional foods substituting animal products with plant material.

“We look into the different molecular characteristics and ultimately we’re able to identify relationships between what we see on a molecular level and whether it causes a cake to rise or what makes a mayo taste good or whether it binds a cookie together or makes a nice creamy butter,” said Hampton Creek founder Josh Tetrick.

“It’s been really recent advances, both in screening methodologies as well as data science, that actually makes it possible,” said Jim Flatt, Hampton Creek’s chief of research and development.

Beyond burger

In the lab of another company, Beyond Meat, scientists re-created a hamburger patty out of proteins from yellow peas, soy and beets for the look of blood. The scientists are breaking down the building blocks of meat and going into the plant kingdom to look for those same elements. They’re then rebuilding them into a new kind of food that uses plant-based protein to create a patty that looks just like a beef patty

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“What we’re doing is we’re taking plant matter. We’re running it through heating, cooling and pressure and that’s basically stitching together the proteins so they take on the fibrous texture of animal muscle,” said Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown

These companies say plants hold the key to solving global food problems.

“Whether it’s Asia, Africa, India, you’re seeing a very strong trend toward increasing animal protein consumption. I don’t think as a globe we can afford that,” Brown said.

“The planet actually cannot work with the way we are consuming meat because we don’t have enough arable land to create enough cereals for all the animals that we need if we are to feed the world through meat,” said Jeremy Coller of Coller Capital, an investor of alternative protein foods.

“Food security is an increasingly big issue, particularly because of climate change and some other issues. I think if you expand the number of tools we can use to feed people really well, you help to mitigate against these risks,” said Tetrick, who envisions bringing healthier, new plant-based foods, that are culturally relevant to local cuisines, to regions in the world such as Africa, where hunger is no stranger.

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For now, Beyond Meat’s patties are sold in Hong Kong and the U.S. Hampton Creek’s mayonnaise, salad dressings and cookies can be found in Mexico, Hong Kong and U.S. grocery stories. Both companies are trying to improve and expand their range of products.

“How do we figure out a way to make food healthier, that’s more sustainable, to actually taste good that’s actually affordable for everyone,” explained Tetrick of his mission.

Because of this greater global goal, those who work in this industry say the subject of alternative sources of protein is not a fad, but a trend that is here to stay. (VOA)

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Robotics Competition: Robots built by team of Young People Promotes Innovation for Economic Growth in Africa

Organizers of the annual robotics competition say the goal is to encourage African governments and private donors to invest more in science and math education throughout the continent.

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Dakar, Senegal (May 19, 2017) - Rokyaha Cisse, 17, from Dakar, adjusts her team's robot at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal. Their robot sends sounds into the ground, which detect the presence of metal.

Dakara, May 24, 2017: The hum of tiny machines fills a fenced-off obstacle course, as small robots compete to gather mock natural resources such as diamonds and gold.

The robots were built by teams of young people gathered in Dakar for the annual Pan-African Robotics Competition.

They’re among the several hundred middle school and high school students from Senegal and surrounding countries who spent last week in Dakar building robots. Organizers of the annual robotics competition say the goal is to encourage African governments and private donors to invest more in science and math education throughout the continent.

Marieme Toure, from Dakar, adjusts her team's robot at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R.Shryock/VOA)
Marieme Toure, from Dakar, adjusts her team’s robot at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R.Shryock/VOA)

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‘Made in Africa’

The event’s founder, Sidy Ndao, says this year’s theme is “Made in Africa,” and focuses on how robotics developed in Africa could help local economies.

“We have noticed that most countries that have developed in the likes of the United States have based their development on manufacturing and industrialization, and African countries on the other hand are left behind in this race,” Ndao said. “So we thought it would be a good idea to inspire the kids to tell them about the importance of manufacturing, the importance of industry, and the importance of creation and product development.”

During the week, the students were split into three groups.

The first group worked on robots that could automate warehouses. The second created machines that could mine natural resources, and the third group was tasked to come up with a new African product and describe how to build it.

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Aboubacar Savage, 14, from Gambia looks at a computer at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R. Shryock/VOA)
Aboubacar Savage, 14, from Gambia looks at a computer at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R. Shryock/VOA)

Building a robot a team effort

Seventeen-year-old Rokyaha Cisse from Senegal helped her team develop a robot that sends sound waves into the ground to detect the presence of metals and then start digging.

Cisse says it is very interesting and fun, and they are learning new things, as well as having their first opportunity to handle robots.

As part of a younger team, Aboubacar Savage from Gambia said their robot communicates with computers.

“It is a robot that whatever you draw into the computer, it translates it and draws it in real life,” Savage said. “It is kind of hard. And there is so much competition, but we are trying. I have learned how to assemble a robot. I have learned how to program into a computer.”

The event’s founder, Ndao, is originally from Senegal, but is now a professor at the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln College of Engineering in the United States.

“I have realized how much the kids love robotics and how much they love science,” Ndao said “You can tell because when it is time for lunch, we have to convince them to actually leave, and then [when] it is time to go home, nobody wants to leave.”

Mohamed Sidy, 14 years old and from Dakar, holds up his team's robot at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R. Shryock/VOA)
Mohamed Sidy, 14 years old and from Dakar, holds up his team’s robot at the 2017 Pan-African Robotics Competition in Dakar, Senegal, May 19, 2017. (R. Shryock/VOA)

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Outsourced jobs cost Africa billions

A winning team was named in each category, but Ndao hopes the real winners will be science and technology in Africa.

The organizers of the Next Einstein Forum, which held its annual global gathering last year in Senegal, said Africa is currently missing out on $4 billion a year by having to outsource jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to expatriates.

Ndao said African governments and private investors need to urgently invest more on education in those fields, in particular at the university level. (VOA)