John and Maury founded Leaft Foods to do things differently. Their shared ambition is to create value for eaters and farmers and align this with positive environmental outcomes. They came across the idea for leaf protein at a hackathon. Experiments in their home kitchen and hours trawling through the literature on leaf protein and Rubisco validated the concept. Since launching in August 2019, Leaft Foods has tenaciously followed its purpose of creating food systems that provide for humanity in partnership with the environment.
What is Rubisco protein?
Rubisco is the protein in green leaves responsible for photosynthesis. Every time you eat spinach, kale, alfalfa sprouts or any other leafy green, you’re eating Rubisco. Unlike most other plant proteins that come from the grain of a crop, we have developed a food-safe technology that extracts Rubisco protein from leaves in a form that is highly digestible for people.
Why protein from green leaves?
All green leaves contain protein. Some of nature's biggest herbivores have evolved to digest this protein source (think cattle or rhinoceros), but the problem is that while it's trapped inside a plant cell, it's hard for humans to even eat enough green leaves for a sufficient serving of protein, let alone digest all that plant matter. Our technology opens up a new way of food production that taps into one of the world's most abundant and sustainable food sources.
Striving for impact
Our modelling suggests that producing Rubisco protein directly from leafy crops has a 10x lower carbon footprint per hectare than conventional dairy protein.
Our founders, John and Maury, are farmers themselves. They have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by agriculture and the lack of practical options for reducing its environmental footprint. We have intentionally designed a model that allows farmers to diversify their land use into plant protein production.
Most greenhouse gases from food happen on the farm, and only a fraction of the emissions come from processing, transport, and distribution. Therefore, the type of farming makes the most significant difference.
We have a long way to go in collecting more data and defining the impact of the Leaft system, but we're excited about what it could mean for the future of food.