Just last week, food technology company Hampton Creek announced an impressive addition to their board, Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed, the founder, and CEO of KBW Ventures, an investor and animal rights activist. And now the popular vegan company has added yet another pioneer to their board … Dr. Sylvia Earle!
Oceanographer Sylvia Earle has been a renowned scientist in the world of marine biology for the last 50 years. Earle has devoted her life to exploring the depths of the ocean and learning about the complex organisms and species that call the ocean their home. Earle was the first female chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and went on to found the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) / Mission Blue, having won dozens of honors for her groundbreaking oceanography work.
In the Emmy award-winning Netflix original documentary, Mission Blue, Earle “travels the globe on an urgent mission to shed light on the dire condition of Earth’s oceans.
You may be wondering what an oceanographer has in common with a food technology company. Well, a lot. Earle says that what we do about the oceans over the next 10 years, will affect the ocean for the next 10,000.
Meeting the demand for seafood for the world’s seven billion people puts an understandably HUGE strain on the ocean’s marine life. And it is no surprise that the mass extraction of sea life is causing a negative impact on the world’s aquatic environments. For instance, in the span of Earle’s lifetime, she has seen the populations of fish commonly targeted for consumption (halibut, cod, tuna, swordfish, herring) drop by 90 percent.
Many scientists have predicted that fish stocks in our oceans will collapse by the year 2048 due to our increasing demand for salmon and tuna. As if overfishing weren’t bad enough, marine life is also highly endangered by our surplus of plastic trash and other environmental toxins we dump into the world’s waters. We only wonder if this could signal Hampton Creek’s intention to get into the plant-based or cultured seafood space … a move that could have a massive positive impact.
The reality is only about one billion people worldwide rely on seafood as their primary source of protein, mostly in developing nations, yet, we here in the West are draining scarce fish stocks at unprecedented rates. The average person in the U.S. eats around 225 fish a year, so if we could replace all of that – or at least a portion of it – with plant-based alternatives, we could help struggling marine populations recover and restore the balance we need to maintain a healthy global environment.
We are thrilled to see Earle join Hampton Creek and are excited to see their developments in the food space. As Earle pointedly says, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” So we can only hope that this partnership leads to some groundbreaking change for our food system!
To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices as well as trends and developments in the plant-based food space, check out our podcast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias
Lead image source: Hampton Creek