Americans love their oysters, but satisfying the coastal cities comes at a high price for the oceans’ delicate ecosystems. Currently, Americans eat approximately 2 billion oysters every year, and although plant-based diets continue to increase in popularity, danger to the depleted oyster reefs is urgent. Pearlita Foods just announced that its new cell-cultured plant-based oyster will satisfy the coastal Americans’ craving for the seafood delicacy without harming the planet at all.
Pearlita Foods’ prototype oyster replacement is created using specialized plant-based and cell-based technologies to replicate the taste and texture of conventional seafood. The hybrid plant-based and cell-based oyster is made with a mushroom and seaweed base that’s flavored with a proprietary flavor mix that emulates the desired salty ocean taste. To give consumers the full experience, the company will also create biodegradable oyster shells before its commercial debut.
Pearlita joins a growing list of companies tapping into the alternative seafood market, specifically addressing ocean-based delicacies such as mussels and oysters. This hybrid product is the first edition of the company’s product selection. Pearlita intends to develop a fully cultured oyster as its perfects its current recipe and production process. These cultivated oysters use isolates from oyster tissues. Each sample can create thousands of oysters.
Currently, the startup is preparing to showcase its innovative food product. The cultured oysters will be the case in recycled oyster shells for these tastings. Pearlita is also helping build new oyster reefs, offering shell disposal centers in North Carolina, where the company is based.
This April, Pearlita secured investment from CULT Food Science to help scale up its production. Since then, Pearlita has used the funding to complete its prototype oyster and begin its campaign to protect the ocean’s fragile ecosystems. This funding will also help the company develop its scallop and squid products.
“We are impressed by and proud of Pearlita’s successful production of its first cultivated oyster prototype. Pearlita’s commitment to making the world a better place and doing its part to increasing the world’s food security is encouraging as we possess the same goals,” Chief Executive Officer of CULT Lejjy Gafour said in a statement. “Pearlita is taking great steps to advance the production of cultured seafood on a mass scale. We are energized by the positive contributions that their team is making to the cellular agriculture industry.”
Overfishing Destroying the Oceans
Pearlita’s mission is to rehabilitate the ocean ecosystems that fall victim to overfishing and overconsumption. Nearly 85 percent of wild oysters are gone from the ocean due to widespread overfishing, threatening the balance of several ecosystems and harming the ocean. By reducing overfishing with plant-based or cell-based alternatives, the oceans can return to their healthy balance, but continued oyster consumption will lead to irreparable damage to those ecosystems.
Last March, the filmmakers responsible for Cowspiracy – the documentary that looked at the environmental risks of factory farming – released a film exposing the dangers of the global seafood industry called Seaspriacy. This documentary revealed the gritty, harmful underbelly of the fishing industry. The documentary notes that fishing is responsible for 46 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At the current rate of fishing, the filmmakers claim that the oceans will possibly be empty by 2048.
Eating fish and seafood also presents serious risks to human health. This June, Cancer Causes published a study that found that the risk of developing melanoma is 22 percent greater for those who eat the most fish in their diets.
What You Should Eat Instead
Pearlita Foods is entering a rapidly growing seafood market. Currently, the plant-based fish market is expected to surpass $1.3 billion by 2031 – a significant jump from the $116 million that vegan seafood companies secured halfway through last year. Other companies have started developing innovative plant-based seafood products including vegan sashimi, crab cakes, and caviar.
For the best plant-based seafood products, check out The Beet Meters!