SAN MATEO — Zero Acre Farms wants to bring an end to vegetable oils, which the company says has been linked to widespread chronic disease and deforestation. The company has raised $37 million in funding from leading climate and food investors.
The oversubscribed Series A round was co-led by Lowercarbon Capital and Fifty Years, for a total of $37 million in funding to date. Other investors include S2G Ventures, Virgin Group, Collaborative Fund, Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures, and Chef Dan Barber, among others.
Vegetable oils—including soybean, sunflower, canola, and palm oil—are now the most consumed food in the world after rice and wheat, the fastest-growing sub-sector of global agriculture, and present in nearly all restaurant meals and packaged foods, making them difficult for most people to avoid.
The increase in vegetable oil consumption is the single largest dietary change of the last hundred years and is linked to increased rates of obesity and chronic disease, including heart disease—now the leading cause of death in the world.
Vegetable oils also take a massive toll on the environment. More vegetable oils are produced globally than all beef, chicken, shrimp, and cheese combined, contributing to record rates of deforestation and carbon emissions. In fact, two of the top three drivers of global deforestation are vegetable oil crops, soybean and palm oil.
Zero Acre Farms is brewing up a new category of healthy oils and fats, made by fermentation, not deforestation.
“Fermentation is the original culinary art, after fire,” says co-founder and CEO Jeff Nobbs. “We use this ancient technique to produce oils and fats with significantly lower levels of the bad fats that have been linked to inflammation and disease while having a fraction of the environmental footprint. We’re proud to be the first company stepping up with the mission to completely remove industrial ‘vegetable’ oils from our food system.”
To discuss the science and controversies around different oils and fats, Zero Acre Farms is hosting a virtual summit, the “Future of Fat,” on March 3 featuring leading doctors, researchers, climate scientists, and thought leaders.
“Eliminating vegetable oils is a critical step in preventing chronic disease,” adds Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition and a Zero Acre Farms advisor who is presenting at the event. “I’m honored to advocate for Zero Acre Farms and hope that by spreading awareness about the devastating effects of vegetable oils, more people will find healthier and more sustainable alternatives.”