The Chickenless Egg Trap

I just read that Bill Gates is investing in a “chickenless egg” company.

It’s called Hampton Foods and they make an egg substitute product made from bits of ground-up peas, sorghum and a few other plant-based ingredients.

They want you to start using it in place of eggs and they say that using plants to make a chickenless egg product is more “sustainable” than raising chickens and gathering their eggs.

Gates wrote that he supports technologies like chickenless eggs because he believes, “Raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.” And that, “… there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people.”1

Even brilliant people like Bill Gates fall into this trap because they think it’s true that meat production is expensive, has a huge environmental footprint and is ecologically unsustainable.

But meat production is a natural process. It takes nothing from the environment and is completely sustainable.

What we’ve done today is make that process unnatural by taking the animals out of their environment and then feeding them grains. And we made it hugely devastating to the environment by growing that grain.

Now they want to do more of the same by growing the ingredients for the chickenless egg.

That’s the problem, not the solution.

You see, cattle do not eat grain in their native environment. They eat grasses. That’s what their stomachs are designed for – cellulose. And chickens forage. Sometimes they eat grass but also things like flower petals, insects, and berries.

Letting cattle graze and chickens forage works because it’s the natural order of things. The animals’ grazing cuts the grass and other plants which spurs new growth. The animals also trample the nutrients from manure and other decaying organic matter back into the soil, turning it into nutrient-rich humus.

It’s perfectly sustainable, and had been for thousands of years until we removed the animals and put them in barns and coops.

Now we grow annual crops to feed the animals. This removes all of the nutrients from the soil and annihilates every creature in that ecosystem (because you want crops to grow there and nothing else). It’s an ecological dead end.

One of the first mainstream media articles I thought did a good job talking about how pasture raising animals is good for the environment was in Time magazine. I bring it up because in the article grass-fed beef producer Ridge Shinn made a great comparison.

He hit the nail right on the head when he told Time: “Conventional cattle raising is like mining … it’s unsustainable, because you’re just taking without putting anything back. But when you rotate cattle on grass, you change the equation. You put back more than you take.”2

If someone influential like Bill Gates can believe meat is unsustainable because animals need to be raised on grain, it’s no wonder others believe it too.

A more sustainable and healthy way of eating – that would feed the most people with the best nutrition at the lowest cost and the most effectively – would be for everybody to eat:

  • two eggs a day
  • a relatively small portion of grass-fed meat a couple of times a day
  • locally grown organic vegetables and fruits

Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef is so loaded with health benefits I’d even go as far as to call it a “super food.” Also try grass-fed buffalo, pork, venison, or other responsibly raised meat. For more information go to It’s a fellowship of family farms that raise their meat naturally.

Natural cage-free eggs are the perfect food. They give you strong, healthy bones, heart, muscles and a sharper mind. Free-range organic-eggs give you even more benefit. We now know they’re antioxidant powerhouses that can improve your vision, and fight inflammation.

I recommend getting to know a local organic-egg producer yourself. If you don’t have a local egg farmer or can’t find one, try The Cornucopia Institute has an excellent list of the best organic-egg producers in the country.

1. “The Future of Food.” The Gates Notes. Accessed June 13, 2013.
2. Abend, L. “How Cows (Grass-Fed Only) Could Save the Planet.” Time. Jan 25, 2010. Retrieved Jun 11, 2013.