Are you over soy milk? Done with almond? Perfect Day Foods introduces a new alternative: cow milk without cows!
It’s difficult to give an exact title to the primary product made by Perfect Day Foods. This is largely because, merely by existing, it creates an entirely new (seemingly contradictory) food category. Vegan cow’s milk? Brewed non-cow milk? Dairy-free dairy milk? Cow-free cow milk? Oxymoron milk? Paradoxical milk? I’ll let you decide.
Allow me to explain.
A few years ago, Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi—inspired by their education and experience in medical and chemical engineering—began gathering a diverse team of scientists and food experts with an ambitious and wholly unique goal: creating a product virtually identical to cow’s milk but not produced by a cow.
Come to find out, the process that a cow uses to produce milk is remarkably similar to what happens during the creation of humankind’s second favorite beverage: beer. Perfect Day’s method actually relies on ‘old-world fermentation techniques,’ which have been around for centuries. In this particular incarnation, that fermentation uses yeast to turn sugar into casein and whey—the very same proteins found in cow’s milk.
So, if this is an ancient process, why are we just now discovering it? It turns out that the key to this castle comes in the form of a very specific yeast, capable of producing those specific milk proteins. And up until the past few years, there was no animal-free place to get such a yeast.
Enter Perumal and Ryan, armed with a 3D DNA printer. Suddenly, a more standard yeast is imprinted with a 3D printed version of cow DNA (which does not require an actual cow) and that yeast becomes the catalyst for creating those delicious milk proteins.
The benefits of this methodology are multitudinous. In addition to eventually giving vegans guilt-free access to milk, cheese, pizza, ice cream, yogurt, pizza, and butter, it also has a much smaller environmental footprint, and offers a beverage with less allergens and no harmful bacteria. For a sign of Perfect Day’s future plans, it is also worth noting that they have an artisan cheesemaker on staff.
And if you happen to be the sort of barista that occasionally considers finding a new career after a soy latte followed by an almond milk cortado followed by a hemp milk cappuccino, you just might want to hold fast hope a little longer. According to Nicki Briggs—a Registered Dietary Nutritionist who also happens to be Chief Communications Officer at Perfect Day—the fact that they use real milk proteins to craft their products will mean that they’ll function just like real milk in every situation. Nicki promises, “They’ll steam like a dream!”
The largest remaining roadblock to universal acceptance of the product is directly tied to what makes it possible in the first place: genetic modification. Sadly, you can not 3D print DNA onto a yeast without modifying its genetic structure. Ultimately, ethical eaters will have to decide which personal food moral code is most important to them. Somewhat helpfully, when I asked Nicki about the GMO issue, she told me that, “although they use genetic engineering to cultivate a yeast that can ferment sugar into milk proteins, the products themselves will not contain this yeast or any other GMOs.” This will be accomplished through an intense filtration and purification process.
While their milk is not slated to hit shelves until late 2017, samples are available at their brewery in Berkeley, CA. If you are near there, be sure to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and set up a visit. If you do so, be sure to bring a Linea Mini with you and steam some of that magic up! And if they do let you get that far carrying an espresso machine, be sure to write about your experience in the comments section below.
Ultimately, whatever you decide to call it, now that you know about Perfect Day, there is a very good chance you’ll think about it every time you wrestle with a pitcher of alternative milk. I, for one, am hoping that it delivers on all of its promises, especially the cheese and pizza-related ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joshua Dusk-Peebles is a lifelong explorer, experimenter, and learner. He enjoys nothing more than sharing what he is learning with other people. When he was young, he would get legitimately angry if his dad forgot to let him smell the coffee every time a new bag was opened. Unfortunately, the much less pleasant corresponding beverage kept him away from coffee until his 30s, when he smelled and then tasted a well-handled natural process Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and everything made sense again. He plans on getting his own new-born son started much sooner. He can be reached at email@example.com or found online at duskcoffee.com.