Health Podcast Post

Feeding the World with James Corwell

George Grombacher April 11, 2023

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Feeding the World with James Corwell

LifeBlood: We talked about feeding the world, the challenges of sustainable food, the economics of the mass production of meat products, making plant-based food delicious, and what the future holds, with James Corwell, one of only 70 Certified Master Chefs in the world, CoFounder of Ocean Hugger Foods, Blue Dot Foods, and Farm 2 Plate.   

Listen to learn why it’s so important to as yourself where your food comes from and what it’s doing to your body!

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

James Corwell

James Corwell

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Well, leopard. This is George G and A time is right. welcome today’s guest strong Apostle James core. Well, James, are you ready to do this?

James Corwell 0:08
Let’s do it, George. Great to be here.

george grombacher 0:11
Let’s go. James is a certified master chef. In fact, one of only 70 of those in the world. He’s the co founder of ocean hugger foods, the managing partner of Farm to Plate and blue dot foods. He’s working to end hunger in our lifetimes. James excited to have you on telson. But your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do.

James Corwell 0:32
Yeah, personal life is being at home and grounded as much as possible with the family and the kids. And myself, I wanted to do that. And I, I play in the plant based food field, more than playing my dedication with my life. And whether it’s meat or seafood, or putting together new products, for foodservice retail. Anything that helps advance plant based foods for the betterment of humans, and the world is my passion.

george grombacher 1:18
Well, I appreciate that. So you’re obviously well, I hope, James that you are passionate about food and, and cooking, and all of that, that motivated you to go down the path of becoming a certified master chef, but walk us through that, is that always been a passion of yours? Did you folks cook,

James Corwell 1:40
you know, you would hope my mother was a terrible cook. Which is probably why I had to learn to cook, because I had to feed myself. That said it fit me very physically, mentally, because I love the pace. Physically, I love the pace. The crafting of food, using knives was something that always appealed to me. So you know, I’m probably the poster child, for somebody going into the culinary arts. That’s I knew I wanted to compete at an early age. And I did that and traveled the world. And I knew I wanted to become an executive chef. And I did that and traveled the world. And then I wanted to I knew I wanted to become a master chef, and did that and traveled the world. And I thought that you know how great it would be to go into manufacturing, but do it my way, with my own thumbprint on it. So that’s when oceanographers came about and tomato sushi. And that, and I’ve since sold the majority of that company, and and now helping other companies, including myself, launch other products in the market. You know, there’s a bit of an onion peel, as you spend over 30 years, cutting meat and cutting fish and seeing the trajectory of how the quality of food has changed how climate change has affected everything from water, to fish to beef to humans and immigration and migrate them. You know, the health and wellness that really gets you thinking about food as medicine and what are the sustainability issues and the current food landscape. And so I made the transition to plant base, not 2016. And it’s helped me and very, very well ever since then.

george grombacher 4:09
So it’s a recognition that the clip that we’re on the pace that we’re on the way that we are feeding ourselves is not sustainable.

James Corwell 4:18
Certainly, I think that’s a fair premise. There probably isn’t enough clean water to eat everybody. watered by 2050 We really need to rethink how we’re using Earth. We won’t use it in the same way animal protein, the food protein current usage is not maintainable. And so what happens when something becomes in greater greater demand becomes more and Word fences. So I think one, a chef’s obligation moral obligation is to think outside of his kitchen, and not just how he’s going to feed his customers. But how do we feed an entire planet?

george grombacher 5:18
Well, I think it makes sense as you’ve progressed along and sort of peel that onion that you are sort of stepping up. And you’ve got, you’ve had some exciting news as of late that, that maybe we can visit about a little bit later. When when I think about what my diet is, and I think about my place in the world, and what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. It’s tricky, because I do eat meat, and I eat plants. So I consume lots of things. And then I drive past countless fast food restaurants, and am disgusted by it and think, Well, how are we possibly creating and producing enough chicken and cows to create chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers at 5000? Fast food restaurants in every city in America? And probably our

James Corwell 6:14
world? Sure. And what is the what are the health consequences of all of that? That’s right. You know, it’s so the 30,000 foot perspective, is that humankind has not been able to consume as much animal protein meat ever in its history. Unless you’re extremely wealthy part of the aristocracy, pretty much the kings and queens of the world. And it was with the identity Industrial Revolution. Our greatest strength as Americans was able to produce a lot of something relatively inexpensively or cheaply, is included food. And it’s what one is World War Two. But now that’s forward 80 years or so 100 years, we’ve gotten so good at it, that we have manufactured the wellness aspects out of these items, at the detriment of having a very inexpensive item to sell everybody. So what I see coming is that the world is coming more full circle, going back to how it used to be, you know, adding copious amounts of animal and seafood products to eat on a daily basis will become more and more rare. Basically wouldn’t cost restraints, and will begin to replace that with more efficient and less costly plant based foods. proteins. What have you. Yeah, so it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s gonna revisit, it’s gonna revisit? Yeah,

george grombacher 8:20
it’s it’s I don’t like to be told what to do. Nobody like I don’t think anybody really likes to be told what to do. I don’t like to be preached at or have somebody wave their finger at me. And God bless Greta Thunberg. But I think she’s polarizing. There’s probably a lot of people who are sick of her and then obviously, who are love her and are singing her praises? Yes. And I think that you make a good case for what what the future looks like and why versus just coming off like something that’s not going to be effective.

James Corwell 9:01
No, I’m not preaching from an ivory tower. That’s not my goal here. Mine is purely based on economics. When the economics basically of water, how efficient we we develop our color our food landscape, with the amount of water we have to use, we’ll set the price. And it just so happens that raising meat takes a lot of water. And water is scarce. The amount of people on this planet who need water, just to survive is really driving this path away from livestock. And so it’s it’s really, the economics of it is what I see being the greatest instrument of change. And it’s always been Asking see where these changes are coming from. But look, me officials still be there in the food pyramid of the future of a grocery store, need them fish are there, but it will be at the very tippy top of that pyramid costing the most. And then the middle will be more commodity driven cellular agriculture, meats are the everyday hamburger consumption. But at the bottom of the pyramid, then foundation and brought as part of that pyramid will be plant based for his cost effectiveness. And, in my mind, probably the most nutritious. So

george grombacher 10:46
when you are your challenge slash opportunity is to use your obviously know how to make delicious food for us to eat. How do you? Or do you attempt to mimic the tastes of if we’re talking about a plant based seafood? Are you trying to replicate the taste of salmon or whatever? And what are you using to do that? Is there a specific kind of plant that you use?

James Corwell 11:12
Yeah, great question. So I’m under I’m under penalty of death to tell you the exact ingredients, but throw approved. Look, they are. So not very sexy, what you might call binders, and gums. That add texture, that pretty much hold that Korean architecture to hold fat, and protein, and water in place. A lot of the flavorings and colors are all natural and derived from plant based sources. But they’re derived from microbes, or yeast, and things of that nature, that are cultivated. For there are certain characteristics, again for color, and certain flavor. And it gets much more scientifically. But pretty much that’s the layman’s terms, view of it. Think of corn starch used to thicken a sauce will have you removed a lot of that liquid, that sauce we get much, much more thicker and create a gelatinous type of jelly like texture. So that’s there are other similar ingredients do similar gelling, similar to that, that in the right proportions give you a good meat like texture.

george grombacher 12:55
Nice. And is it come easy to you to do this? Was the is it a learning curve? Like Like, like anything else?

James Corwell 13:09
No, I feel very fortunate. Most scientists, r&d scientists don’t have the benefit of being a culinary or chef. So they have a hard time discerning flavor and texture. And they also don’t fully understand the end user, which in this case would be other shots. Or let’s say foodies. So you know, I think that’s very important. That’s one of the reasons why I got into the field because I saw our culinary landscape changing. So who is going to define this field? The scientists at large are the chefs at large. And I wanted to be part of that conversation.

george grombacher 14:04
makes a ton of sense. Kind of like merging humanity with technology. Right?

James Corwell 14:08
Exactly. You know, we gotta get the chefs out there, putting their their, their thumbprint on, on this changing environment. The world is changing, and it’s it really is bright. But it is so different than ally learned to cook. Because grande cuisine was just that it was meant for it came out of hundreds of years, just cooking for royalty, and those who could really afford it. And it it broke loose during the Age of the Industrial Revolution. But now it’s changing. And it’s really important for chefs and staff, embrace the change, but also embrace the changes that the change is bringing.

george grombacher 14:58
Yeah, it strikes me that If we are to shift incrementally towards more plant based foods, that it better tastes good, and it better have a texture that’s that’s appealing. Otherwise, we’re probably not going to work.

James Corwell 15:14
In the business, we call that full functionality. We wanted to have full functionality, searing, taking liking, you know, look, it’s and there’s history, the history, I find all my solution. There, you know, if you go back to the Aztecs and go back to the Hindu culture, 10,000 years, 20,000 years old, our humans culture is able to survive in areas that didn’t provide enough animal protein to grow the population to millions of people, over 1000s and 1000s of years. Look, it was with plant beds. But we’re, we’re not just going to, you know, step on the brakes, and all go plant based all of a sudden. And so we’re going to have this kind of gray area, where we’re where we have the, our diet segmented into lots of different areas. They’ll add plant bait, the real stuff, maybe some fasting, or else purpose. Lots of different shapes and fermented foods, and things of that nature will start to break up our diet. And instantly the three square meals, it might be six little meals, but all much more varied than ever before. And it’s through this kind of Rubik’s Cube diet, that the future of dining will begin to really take shape.

george grombacher 16:51
Fascinating, exciting. Yeah, full functionality. I love a little inside baseball there. So

James Corwell 17:04
I’m working on a project where we’re trying to make a plant based person, which is full of butter. And so when you make a plant based butter, for instance, it needs to be allergen free. So it can’t be based on nuts and things of that nature, which are also very water intensive. Something on the order things like a gallon of water to produce one on. So that also it needs to perform like real butter was that the lift and the flakiness of the pastry. All of that is based on the butter. And so that’s what we look for in the industry, is that if we do have a substitute needs to perform exactly like the real thing.

george grombacher 17:55
Takes a gallon of water to produce an almond. Wow,

James Corwell 18:02
that’s a lot of water. Yeah, we need we need to be able to produce more food this year than last year. And each and every year, we need to be producing more. Because there are more and more people on the planet to feed. And the demands for the food are greater and greater, greater. Unfortunately, California, which has been our number one breadbasket is actually decreasing its production year after year. So the United States is in a unique position to look for a second breadbasket, that that second basket will likely become more central to the US closer to the Mississippi. But you’ll see a lot of those crops grown in California start to migrate closer and closer inland. Yeah. Fascinating. Yeah.

george grombacher 18:59
Well, James, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people find you? How can they how can they engage? Where can they get some of your food James?

James Corwell 19:08
Yeah, you know, right now. for better for worse. Europe is really the preeminent market for plant based foods at this point. They have a an older association with food, where it comes from, but it does your body’s different type of legislative process. So they’re more attuned, and desire and more and more plant based items. So if you are in Europe, be on the lookout or why replate and blue dot foods products. Don’t feel bad about the United States. We’re only about five years behind of five years goes like that. But you know You can always google me, and my current status will pop up on your shirt. Excellent.

george grombacher 20:09
Where it comes from what it does to my body, what it does to your body. Those are such simple and powerful questions right there, James, from the drive thru and it makes me feel good.

James Corwell 20:26
Well, you’re staying in shape.

george grombacher 20:30
I mean, those are such wonderful questions. Where does my food come from? Do I know the answer to that question? And what is it actually doing to my body aside from making my mouth happy for a second? So

James Corwell 20:45
quickly, I’ll leave you with this, the world is getting smaller and smaller place. What we produce here becomes more and more demand, not just within our country, of what, but outside of our country too. And, you know, we’re going to have to start really protecting our natural resources, and we need to rethink, we need to change our thinking about natural resources as national treasures. And what do we do with our national treasures? Do we keep them for ourselves? Or do we export them to deny as better

george grombacher 21:27
well, if you enjoyed as much as I did to James, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, connect with James I will list all the websites and different places you can learn more about him and what he is working on and track his progress towards. In fact, ending food hunger in our lifetime. James, My money is on you, man. Thank you again. Thanks.

James Corwell 21:49
Thanks, George. I really appreciate it. Thanks for that. Thanks for the call.

george grombacher 21:54
Till next time, remember, see you next time. Yeah, brother. Do your part. Doing your best. Amen.

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