The Impossible Burger: A lesson in environmental stewardship

October 6, 2016   |   Student Post « Back

Miriam Jaber ’17 shares her experience interning at Impossible Foods, an organization dedicated to transforming the global food system by discovering better ways to make the food people love.


by Miriam Jaber ’17

A body cannot function without its organs or cells. A cell cannot function without a nucleus.

A company cannot solely depend on the person with the idea to make the product or company a success. It takes scientists and engineers to develop and scale the product, marketers to make the product appealing to consumers, salespeople to the sell the product, and financial analysts, accountants and lawyers to create the company’s financial and legal infrastructure to support the execution above all tasks. This is one of the things I learned at my internship at Impossible Foods this summer.

Impossible Foods is a biotech start-up located in Silicon Valley. Its purpose is to create a sustainable plant-based hamburger that can ultimately replace the cow as a meat source and reduce the world’s carbon footprint and water usage.

According to livestock researchers, animal agriculture uses 30% of all land and 25% of Earth’s freshwater. This industry also creates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of all of the world’s airplanes, ships, trains, cars and trucks combined.

Its purpose is to create a sustainable plant-based hamburger that can ultimately replace the cow as a meat source and reduce the world’s carbon footprint and water usage.

The Impossible Burger consists of simple ingredients such as wheat, coconut oil, potatoes, and heme. Heme is a proprietary ingredient that Impossible Foods has developed which creates the juicy, “bloody” taste when a person bites into a hamburger. With that said, the Impossible Burger has same look, smell, and taste of a cow-based hamburger.

I was skeptical in the beginning, considering that most vegan burgers available taste nowhere close to an actual burger, but when I tasted it, my skepticism faded. It was delicious, and I forgot that it did not come from a cow.

I was amazed at the company’s passion and dedication to helping the planet. Each individual I met contributes to this greater purpose. What furthered my love for this burger was seeing the many steps and parts it takes to produce one.

My internship was rather unique given that I was able to work in different areas of the organization. This was possible in part because of how the physical building was set up. There was only one floor with several rows of tables with computers. The Marketing team sat next to the scientists who sat next to the chief executive officer, the chief financial officer and general counsel. This open floor plan, removes the hierarchy and class structure within a traditional company setting and allows the company to establish a sense of community.

Animal agriculture uses 30% of all land and 25% of Earth’s freshwater. This industry also creates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of all of the world’s airplanes, ships, trains, cars and trucks combined.

Working in marketing, I made the little flags that were put into the Impossible Foods burgers served at the company’s first public launch. When I toured the lab, I witnessed the ways in which the ingredients are manipulated and measured. I worked on accounting and finance projects, learning about stocks and invoice reconciliations and other financial projects.

This experience opened my eyes to the world of business. With the hopes of starting or working in a company like this in the future, the internship gave me a greater appreciation for the product—any product—and the awareness of how producing a product is involved and complex. In the larger context, this company is rather unique given that it uses business as a way to achieve global justice rather than a simple profit.

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