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  • Writer's pictureRayki Goh, MSc

Solein: The Protein Revolution from Thin Air!

Solar Foods' Solein offers a sustainable protein solution, promising environmental and nutritional benefits. Can this innovative powder meet global demands for a more sustainable food system?


Dear Food People,


Solar Foods developed Solein, a sustainable protein that will excite your taste buds. This bright, saffron-coloured powder is more than meets the eye. War and pandemics have long served as catalysts for technological advancements. Small countries reliant on external resources suffer severe impacts when global food sources and production are disrupted. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the fragility of our food supply and the need to find innovative solutions.


Before reaching our tables, our meals pass through several phases, beginning with the farm and ending with the processor. But what if we could overcome the constraints of traditional farming practices and tap into resources that lie beyond the human eye? It sounds like something out of a fairy tale: weaving gold from straw. Solar Foods' imaginative team of Finnish food scientists is making revolutionary concepts a reality.


Countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong face a food security challenge in a world where external food resources can evaporate faster than a slice of pizza at a pandemic-themed streaming watch party. Take Singapore as an example. With limited area and less-than-ideal weather circumstances, the country-state had to be innovative. And boy, did they rise to the task! Vertical farming has taken hold, with crops growing skyward to make the most of limited air space in regulated surroundings. Consider the creative approach used!


But what about protein, the heavyweight champion of nutrients? Prepare to have your taste buds taken to a science fiction universe! Solar Foods has developed Solein, a sustainable protein that will excite your taste buds. This bright, saffron-coloured powder is more than meets the eye. The secret lies in the power of microbes, those microscopic superheroes that often get a bad rap. But hey, not all microbes are villains! Some have hidden talents, like the Clostridium clan. They boast a knack for producing enzymes, including proteases, that break down proteins into more digestible molecules. Clever, huh?


Solein's creation process is a scientific symphony. Picture a consortium of microbes, water, and good ol' carbon dioxide. These microbes receive a VIP treatment, consuming bubbles of CO2 along with a bath-bomb of essential nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It's like a fancy feast for the microscopic workforce! And voila, the nutritional powerhouse of Solein emerges straight from thin air, with its protein, iron, fibre, and B-vitamin goodness ready to teleport your taste buds to new dimensions.


In September 2022, Solein received its first novel food regulatory approval in Singapore. The first commercial-scale production facility for Solein, Factory 01, will open in 2024 in Finland. While the plans for the source of power to run the future factory remain undisclosed, we do hope that they adopt sustainable methods such as wind and solar power to maintain a carbon-neutral operation. This would align with the principles of environmental responsibility and further enhance the sustainability of Solein production.


By minimising the carbon footprint associated with protein production, Solein can present an opportunity for environmentally conscious consumers to make a positive impact through their food choices. It’s time we did more than just plant trees! When it comes to assessing the nutritional value and safety of Solein, rigorous research serves as the cornerstone. In a 2021 study published in "Environmental Science & Technology," solein was found to exhibit a similar nutritional profile to dried soy. This also means that the product is friendly for soy-allergic consumers!


Solar Foods has also made strides to establish Solein's safety and efficacy. The company has published numerous papers examining the protein's properties, conducted clinical trials to evaluate its absorption within the human body, and demonstrated its potential as a sustainable protein solution. Further studies are still necessary to fully understand the long-term health effects of Solein despite the promising picture painted by available research. As the scientific community continues to delve into this remarkable protein source, we eagerly anticipate future discoveries.


When it comes to sustainable protein sources, Solein takes the cake (or, should we say, the tofu block?). It may not have the highest protein content compared to other meat- and plant-based alternatives, but hey, it's a game-changer! Free from allergens, preservatives, and antibiotics, it's a planet-friendly, slaughter-free protein option. It's important to remember that it's created from thin air! In this future, meals will be whipped up from food replicators like something straight out of a sci-fi series. It's not as far-fetched as you might think.


So, my food-loving comrades, let's boldly go where no tastebud has gone before and embrace the exciting possibilities of food technology. The world is changing, and so is the way we eat! Remember, food is not just about filling our bellies; it's about nourishing our bodies, our planet, and our future. So, the next time you savour a protein-packed meal, think of the microscopic wonders that made it possible. And who knows? Perhaps, one day you'll be chowing down on a meal conjured from thin air, just like they do on the starships of our favourite sci-fi series!


And one more thing, lunch date on the USS Enterprise in 2034 anyone (that's if I’m still alive then but who knows!)??


And hey, if you've got any thoughts or ideas on how we can tackle environmental or food sustainability issues, or if there's something specific you want us to cover in our future articles, shoot us a message over at dearfoodpeople.com. We'd love to hear from you!


 

Further Reading:

  1. Environmental Science & Technology, 2021, Nutritional composition and in vitro digestibility of Solein, a protein produced by microbes from carbon dioxide and air".

  2. Nutritional Reviews, 2022, Safety and efficacy of Solein, a protein produced by microbes from carbon dioxide and air.

  3. Nutrition Journal, 2022, Absorption of Solein, a protein produced by microbes from carbon dioxide and air, in human subjects.

  4. Foodingredientsfirst.com - Solar Foods’ protein from thin air debuts in Singapore as chefs create novel menu.


 

The information provided in our articles is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The content on our website, including articles, is not meant to endorse or promote any specific medical treatments, products, or procedures. The information provided is based on general knowledge and research at the time of writing. Medical practices and knowledge are constantly evolving, and what may have been accurate at the time of publication may not be current or applicable today.

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