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Biochemists deploy AI to develop dairy alternative from pineapples and cabbage: 'It tasted exactly like milk'

For some, switching to plant-based foods is not viable because they simply don't like the taste.

For some, switching to plant-based foods is not viable because they simply don't like the taste.

Photo Credit: iStock

You've probably heard about oat milk. Maybe you've even heard about potato milk. Now, a new unlikely alternative to dairy-based milk has been created from unusual ingredients.

Pineapple juice and cabbage concentrate are found in NotMilk, produced by the Chile-based startup NotCo. If the items used to make it sound strange, the process that discovered these ingredients could be an option is just as weird.

As Anthropocene detailed, artificial intelligence was deployed to find connections between foods that would create the best taste, smell, and texture to get as close to the properties of real milk as possible.

"The technology, whimsically named Giuseppe, has the potential to make it faster and easier to design plant-based foods that meet people where they're at — getting them onto a plant-based diet without making them give up tastes they love," the outlet said.

Eating more plant-based meals can have huge environmental benefits. The food supply network is one of the planet's biggest polluters. From the pollution caused by the transport of items to be sold all over the globe, to the methane gas produced by cows and other livestock grown for meat and dairy products, the impact in terms of planet-warming potential is huge.

According to research published in the Future Foods journal, shared by Science Direct, between 10,800 and 18,700 million tons of carbon dioxide is produced every year in the food supply chain. That contributes to more than 20% of carbon pollution, and it is expected to increase to 30% by 2050.

But for some, switching to plant-based foods is not viable because they simply don't like the taste — even though there are plenty of delicious recipes to make eating planet-friendly foods a treat.

There are expectations from seasoned shoppers, too. Early tests of possible ingredients for NotMilk's alternative delivered a green liquid, but further study was needed to make it a more palatable color. 

"It tasted exactly like milk," CEO of NotCo Matias Muchnick told Anthropocene, but it would likely not be embraced by supermarket shoppers.

That's why trying to mimic the taste and texture of meat and dairy items is so crucial when trying to convince more people to adopt a diet based on fruits and vegetables. Even eating one plant-based meal a week with your family will represent the equivalent of taking a dirty-fuel-powered car off the road for five weeks, according to EarthDay.org.

"We came to the US understanding that 60% of plant-based milk consumers are not completely happy with the taste of the product they are buying, and 30% of dairy milk consumers are willing to change if they found something that tasted like milk," Muchnick told Anthropocene. "That was a big chunk of the market — that's why we came with NotMilk."

NotMilk — as well as NotCheese —  is now available in United States grocery stores, so give it a go and see if cabbage-and-pineapple milk can stack up to the real thing. 

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