A pair of San Francisco Bay Area companies are raising funds to manufacture a chocolate bar with milk made from mushrooms using a process called “precision fermentation.” The result is a milk chocolate mouthful, reported on by SF publication 48hills, an this company’s attempt at combating animal cruelty, climate change, and tamping down the hyper consumption of water that is currently reducing the California snowpack down to alarming levels.
Innovate chocolatiers Oodaalolly have tapped the genius of the Bay’s vegan bioengineers Perfect Day in the construction of this new treat. The mushroom “milk” is the end result of a process that Perfect Day is pioneering that involves shooting Trichoderma reesei mushrooms up with recombinant DNA to trigger the production of milk-like proteins. (It is not to be confused with the mushroom blended milks, lattes, etc that are popular nowadays — those are typically made of non-dairy milk combined with ‘shrooms.)
“You might think this is magic mushroom milk,” states the effort’s Kickstarter campaign, which you have until March to support. “But as Arthur C. Clarke famously said, ‘sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic.’ Rather than waving a wand and casting a spell, recombinant DNA is used to coax T. Reesei into producing milk proteins identical to those from a cow.”
The campaign is revving up to procure $12,300 (or more!) to produce this non-psychoactive snack. Potential donors should keep in mind that a mere $10 donation will bring them a bar of their own, should the project reach its funding goal.
On the Kickstarter site, the Filipino-owned Oodaalolly says the idea came to the team during an experiment it ran last January to make chocolate bars without a single animal product (they messed up once when they employed honey.) Despite the challenges, “the examination of our supply chain was eye-opening to us,” the company states.
Their vegan quest led them to Perfect Day, an Oakland-based vegan bioengineering company that is delving into recombinant DNA of Trichoderma reesei mushrooms in the attempt to get them to make milk. Perfect Day is also getting into a host of other mushroom milk commercial collabs, from ice cream to protein powders.
This is good news for the planet, given that Perfect Day says its whey production process reduces water use by 99% as compared to full-dairy operations—not to mention, producing 97% fewer greenhouse gases.
Even so, ‘shroom chocolate may all seem like a strange side quest for Oodaalolly, given that it’s a (checks notes) chocolate company, but it’s not the first rather unique project upon which Oodaalolly has embarked, as 48hills food columnist Tamara Palmer notes. The company has also come up with a chocolate version of the balut, a fertilized duck egg embryo consumed as a delicacy in the Phillippines.
It’s probably a good time to note that in the wake of successful mushroom decriminalization efforts in both Oakland and San Francisco, the Bay Area is experiencing a fungal renaissance. East Bay mushroom faith center Zide Door Church not only survived its raid by law enforcement, but is now suing the cops that carried out the operation. One need only walk into a local head shop to be greeted with a not-quite-legal selection of mushroom products. Little wonder that local foodies are looking for new ways to incorporate the growths into snacks.