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Food Ingredients


Baking from the stockroom and an artistic avocado substitute

by Alex Scott
September 1, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 31


Lab-made cookies

Photo of chocolate chip cookies.
Credit: Shutterstock
Cash crunch: Chocolate chip cookies made from lab reagents would cost $30,031.70.

Oh, crumbs! If someone were to make 25–30 chocolate chip cookies using ingredients sourced entirely from a lab ingredient supplier, it would cost $30,031.70. The discovery and the methodology used are presented in a study written by Cannot Goodenough of Ark Night University in Gaul, Terra, in a recent edition of the satirical Journal of Immaterial Science.

In the paper, Goodenough names the lab supplier as Si/g//ma-*ldrich, a thinly veiled reference to Sigma-Aldrich, which goes by the name MilliporeSigma in Canada and the US. While the author’s name and credentials are fictional, the data in the report appear to be on point. Ingredient costs match the prices on MilliporeSigma’s website. For example, five portions of 10 g of whole egg powder required for the recipe would cost $3,920. The most expensive component—for those half baked enough to use Goodenough’s methodology—would be the 1,000 mg of coconut oil, which costs $16,761.90.

“Scientists have long wondered what laboratory reagents they might consume and survive on in the event of entrapment in the laboratory (resulting from natural disaster or zombie apocalypse),” Goodenough states in the paper as a justification for the thought experiment. Goodenough also cites the “recent case” of a PhD student, also presumably fictional, who starved to death after a delivery of solvent drums blocked the doorway out of his lab. The student died while attempting “to construct a scotch fillet by peptide coupling,” Goodenough says.

Merck KGaA, the owner of MilliporeSigma, took a look at the cookie recipe. “With this publication, our market evaluation teams have been working to determine if a strategic pivot is required for the company,” it tells Newscripts in an email. “Despite the temptation, we won’t be shifting our focus to baking these superior cookies, but still appreciate the great research that went into developing it,” the fun folks at Merck say.


Go greener with an Ecovado

An artificial avocado.
Credit: Arina Shokouhi
The Ecovado: Making greener guacamole through food science.

Does the world need to cut its consumption of avocados? More than 80 km2 of forest is cut down each year in Mexico—the world’s largest producer of avocados—to make way for the green fruit. Globally, the thirsty plants consume the equivalent of 3 million Olympic swimming pools of water every year.

Don’t ditch the guacamole quite yet, though. What about swapping an avocado for an Ecovado? No, it’s not an environmentally sensitive Star Wars character but a greener incarnation of an avocado, thought up by British food, textile, and art designer Arina Shokouhi.

She collaborated with the University of Nottingham’s Food Innovation Centre to develop an avocado substitute that has a similar look and taste to the real thing but with a fraction of the environmental footprint.

The Ecovado’s creamy, green interior is made from a mix of ingredients including broad beans, apple, hazelnut, and canola oil; its stone is an unshelled walnut; and its exterior is made from a textured wax colored with food dye. The recipe for the green interior can be adapted according to the availability of local ingredients.

Shokouhi plans to produce the Ecovado commercially. When that happens, the Newscripts gang will be ready with chiles and lime juice to test the artificial fruit in guacamole—or should that be guEcomole?

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