I love listening to the Rich Roll Podcast. He does long interviews and you really get to know his guests. It was Rich Roll’s first interview with Zac Bush that prompted me to follow Dr Bush, then meet him in Melbourne and invite him to speak at The Nutrition Academy Summit in Australia. I want to thank Rich Roll for the amount of time he spends with his guests and his wonderful questions.
Like many podcasts, Rich Roll advertises.
I was listening late one night to his Best Of 2020, Part 1. At the 38-minute mark he began his advertising section by letting us know he has a new sponsor – Just Egg. I listened intensely as he spouted information about real eggs and Just Egg and to say the least I was horrified by the information the company has obviously given Rich to sell their product. I decided to find out where the information came from to see if it had been twisted in interpretation. It’s important not to jump to conclusions without first checking facts.
But first, what did I hear? Here is the advertisement:
“We are bought to you today by the perfect and brand spanking new sponsor – Just Egg, the better egg for you and the planet. I suspect most people are blithely unaware just how much resources are required to harvest chicken eggs and also how much CO2 they produce. It actually takes 53 gallons/240 litres of water to produce just one single egg. By contrast Just Egg, which is made entirely by plants, uses 98% less water and emits 93% fewer carbon emissions than a conventional egg. It’s protein packed, it’s got zero cholesterol and quite astonishingly tastes and cooks just like conventional eggs.
We test a lot of healthy plant-based products at our house but the true test, the litmus test, always begins and ends with my teenage daughters. Will it pass their taste test? Many have tried, most fail, but I’ve got to say Just Egg absolutely crushed it. My daughters, without any prompting whatsoever, naturally gravitate toward the Just Egg pretty much every morning and as a family we’ve really been enjoying making frittatas, breakfast sandwiches, a variety of scrambles and even the occasional French toast – it’s kind of become like a daily ritual.
Regardless if you are “plant based” or whatever your diet proclivity, make 2021 the year you move toward a healthier and a more ecological sustainable play for you and the planet. And Just Egg is the evolution in your diet you’ve been waiting for. Just Egg is a nutritious way to start your day and do something good for the planet while you are at it. You can find it at most grocery stores, your local co-op, Amazon Prime now and Instacart. Look for Just Egg in the egg fridge or look for frozen egg folded for easy breakfast sandwiches. Just Egg – a better egg for you and the planet.”
I understand, Rich, that you are not a nutritionist, your forte lies elsewhere, so I’d love to tell you a little about Just Eggs so that you can make an educated decision on whether this is fitting for your wonderful show. I’m a nutritionist, I have been for 40 years and my book Lab to Table will explain in detail what I’m about to explain in this open letter to you. The reason for the open letter is that I doubt you would have got my email and I just don’t want to educate you, I would love everyone to know this information and not be duped by the twisted truths of food manufacturers, especially the fake animal protein movement.
Let’s first look at the ingredients in Just Egg:
Mung bean protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, contains less than 2% of dehydrated onion, gellan gum, natural carrot extractives (color) Natural Flavours, Natural Turmeric extractives (color), potassium citrate, salt, soy lecithin, sugar, tapioca syrup, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, transglutaminase, nisin (preservative). (contains soy). Egg free, non-gmo, cholesterol free, dairy free 5g of protein per serve and packed in plastic.
There is not one whole food in the mix – all are extracts, isolates, expellers or chemicals. Possibly all the food-like substances have been classified as GRAS, (generally regarded as safe), but never put together and studied to be GRAS. All additives and food-like substances are studied individually. The footprint of each one of these food-like substances would be huge, depending on whether they started as a food or a chemical. Each one would be manufactured in a different facility somewhere in the world, each facility would use precious lands and water, have waste products, use dubious chemicals to extract and perhaps travel the world to its destination to be made into Just Egg and then to supermarkets.
If the food-like substance started as a plant then we have to ask the question as to what chemical and water inputs were used in its growing. This fake egg does not say it is organic or regeneratively grown, nor are any of its ingredients, so I’ll assume chemicals were used in the growing of the mung bean, canola, soy, turmeric, onion and tapioca; how many I’m not sure but probably inputs before sowing, during sowing, through growing and before harvest and in silo storage. As for spices, most are irradiated so I’ll assume the turmeric is irradiated. Is the salt high quality or is it refined to sodium chloride with anti-caking and free-flowing agents added? I can tell you this: I would not feed this to my dog, nor my chickens, let alone my family.
It took me a couple of hours to uncover what all the ingredients are and how they are made. The company says that the product is non-GMO, but when I went to each of the patents of the chemicals used in the fake egg, I discovered that at least four of the chemicals were probably made using biotechnology or genetic manipulation of microbes in order to efficiently make the desired food additive. These genetically modified microbes will need a substrate to live and multiply on so that they can produce the desired additive. A substrate is usually a plant-based food like sugar beet (GM), soya (GM), glucose (from wheat that is possibly desiccated with glyphosate), whey (non-vegan) to name a few.
Let me give you an example of natural vanilla flavour. A microbe is genetically modified with the gene in the vanilla pod, that produces the smell of vanilla. It is then placed on a substrate so it can produce natural vanilla flavour – sorry but this is not my idea of natural by any stretch of the imagination.
The question to ask is, how is the natural flavour (I’ll assume egg flavour) in the Just Egg made? I know when they make vegan (microbial) rennet for cheese making, they take the gene from the cell of a cow stomach and place it in the microbe, so it’s plausible that the egg flavour could come from the gene of an egg – maybe, it’s worth thinking about or investigating. Or the egg flavour could be a mix of 48 plus chemicals including 3-(methylthio)1-propanol, benzaldehyde, 4-heptanol, trimethylpyrazine, methylpyrazine and 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, which are known to simulate the flavour and smell of eggs. And if it is the 48 plus chemicals, what chemical companies made each one of the chemicals and how far did they fly to be bound together? So you can see the footprint of this Just Egg is growing exponentially with each ingredient/chemical.
As for the expeller expressed canola oil, soy lecithin and mung bean, if they are not genetically modified (which the company states they aren’t), then a week before harvest, farmers can dry the crops with glyphosate. This is a patented broad spectrum antibiotic and herbicide with the dubious title of probable 2A carcinogen and having links to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It also affects the microbiome via disruption of the shikimate pathway, which in turn stops the production of aromatic amino acids in the gut which are the precursors to 90% or our neurotransmitters.
So, if this is the case, not only are there no whole ingredients, but a bunch of chemicals, probably contaminated with agricultural chemicals. Therefore, the land it grew on would be contaminated, which in turn destroys the soil and its capacity to sustain life and hold water. So please tell me, if this is the case, how could this possibly be good for human health or be better for the planet?
I went to the Just Egg website to find out about the company. Their video states that “Bad food is everywhere, it tastes good, it also accelerates chronic disease and climate change. What would it look like if we started over? The premise is to use food technology using robots, automation, algorithms, data and probability of discoveries”. (May 2020).
I have to admit their marketing is slick and their page shows plants, but when we look behind the product we see a chemical laboratory, not a regenerative farm, which is more likely to save the planet than Just Eggs.
I was a little gobsmacked by the claim of how much water it takes to produce one egg. After all I have chickens who produce eggs and I’ve never once seen one chicken consume 53 gallons/240 litres a day of water to produce the one egg she lays each morning for my family. So, I found the reference1. The water that is claimed to be used by the chicken to produce one egg is based on the grain the chicken consumes and how much water is required to grow the grains and seeds.
From the words of Just Egg – What would it look like if we started over?
It’s not the chicken (egg), it’s the how. If we really wanted to solve this issue, then our grain and seed would not be grown using chemical agriculture but rather using regenerative agriculture principles. Most lands we use for growing food are below 1% organic matter and carbon due to current farming practices. Increase that to 4-8% organic matter and carbon and the water holding capacity of the soil grows exponentially, therefore, the use of irrigation and diverting river systems reduces significantly. If we treated our beautiful chickens with respect and allowed them access to sunshine, grass, dirt, worms and parasites, then less grain is needed and the health of the animal increases, and so does the health of the egg.
Chickens are natures janitors: they are not a blight on the planet or its resources. In their natural habitat, they put carbon and organic matter back into the soil – they do not omit copious amounts of carbon dioxide as read by Rich Roll. In nature we observe the pairing of herbivores (cows) and bird life. As mobs of herbivores disturb bug life just below the surface, the birds get to work and the landscape gets a 2 for 1 deal: not only are bug and parasite populations kept in check, but as the herbivores leave their piles of dung behind, the birds clean these up too.
On the Changing Habits farm we mimic this natural pattern with mobile chicken setups that follow the cows around the pastures. Chickens are the ultimate clean-up crew. Their favourite food is anything that hops, wiggles or crawls. As the chickens scratch through the fresh poo dung looking for treats, the manure is spread evenly across the paddock instead of just sitting in piles. The benefits are huge. The paddock is fertilised, by both well-spread herbivore manure as well as nitrogen-rich bird manure. Harmful pathogens and pests, like buffalo fly, ticks and intestinal worms, are removed from the cycle. And as a bonus we get protein and cholesterol rich eggs.
That the Just Egg advertising on the Rich Roll podcast demonises cholesterol is just so passe and infuriating. Cholesterol is not the demon: cholesterol is required by our body to make Vitamin D; it insulates nerve tissue and is important for brain cognition; it is the precursor for our sex and stress hormones; it helps us make bile and is required for the absorption and utilisation of-fat soluble vitamins. It’s also part of the immune system and healing system. To demonise this is to not know the science.
A real egg produced by a real chicken is the only food where we can digest and utilise up to 90% of the protein – better than meat (at 60%) and better than any plant-based protein.
So, again, it’s not the chicken/egg…it’s the how.
What We Eat Can Change the World – It’s Up to You to Make the Effort
It’s true – humans are using animals as slaves and are barbaric in their animal husbandry practices. It’s up to you as an individual if you want to support these barbaric practices or whether you take the time to find a local farmer or producer. Someone who is more likely to be focusing on their soil working at its peak (by holding water, minerals, organic matter, mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria and so much more to improve ecology of the soil), so that you become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
It’s not about becoming a vegan or a carnivore, it’s about becoming educated as to how your food is produced and how that impacts your health and that of the planet. I’ve lived my life learning these lessons and, in the end, I choose to grow my own food and have my own chickens and cows, because I can. But, for the Changing Habits Farm to survive, we need people who know our principles and know that we offer the best food growing practices and want to purchase from us. There are many farmers like me and many more that want to do this.
The support of an educated community is what will make these practices thrive and turn the health of humans and the planet around – and quickly.
Of all people, having interviewed Dr Zach Bush four times, you should know all this Rich. I was a vegetarian for 16 years, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when all that was available to me in fake meat was TVP (textured vegetable protein). There was no way I would have touched that chemicalized food-like substance then and I’m definitely not going to touch it now. The fake meat and eggs are just TVP with better technology.
Plant-based eggs, or meats for that matter, are not going to save the world – they are going to destroy human health at best and cause untold land devastation at worst.
To reiterate, I love The Rich Roll Podcast, but some of the advertising does not marry with your message. I’m sure Dr Zach Bush can help you find ethical foods and supplements grown by regenerative farmers who are saving the planet, and I’m here to help too.
Here are some references so that you can become educated and make up your own mind about Just Eggs:
- The water used to make one egg https://qz.com/171698/it-takes-53-gallons-of-water-to-produce-a-single-egg/
- More about Nisin (preservative) https://foodadditives.net/preservatives/nisin/
- Greenhouse gas emissions and poultry https://poultry.caes.uga.edu/content/dam/caes-subsite/poultry/documents/greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-livestock-poultry.pdf
- It’s not the cow/chicken, it’s the how https://sustainabledish.com/its-not-the-cow-its-the-how-new-study-shows-grass-fed-beef-can-be-a-carbon-sink/
- Patent on transglutaminase – possible biotechnology product https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38112985_Recent_Patents_on_Transglutaminase_Production_and_Applications_A_Brief_Review
- Patent for Tetrasodium pyrophosphate https://patents.google.com/patent/US4873068A/en
- Patent for Gellan Gum – possible biotechnology product https://patents.justia.com/patent/10638783
- Patent for Smell and Flavour of Egg https://patents.google.com/patent/EP2641478B1/en