Eating Wood—the latest advance

I've posted before about the centuries-old scientific dream of using sawdust to feed the world. So the latest effort in this vein caught my eye. A Virginia Tech researcher has figured out a way to enzymatically transform indigestible cellulose into edible starch. The science seems sound. The only problem is that the process is too expensive for commercial production. But it's a start!

The article points out that most of us are eating wood (or cellulose) already. It's a common additive in the fast-food industry. But it's indigestible, so people couldn't survive on it. Its purpose is to add texture, or "mouth feel."

Let Them Eat Wood! (If It's Turned Into Starch)
opb.org

In a study published this spring with colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zhang explains a process he developed to transform solid cellulose — which could come from wood, grass or crop residue (like corn husks) — into a carbohydrate called amylose. The process is a form of synthetic biology and relies on enzymes to break down the cellulose into smaller units and then restitch the molecules into starch. That means the final, edible food product — a powder that Zhang says tastes sweet — is completely synthetic but resembles other complex carbohydrates like corn starch.
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 06, 2013
     Category: Food | Science





Comments
<RANT>
Just because it's too expensive should be no barrier! Electric cars are 'too expensive' but we've thrown a ton of $$$ at the industry. Wind power costs more to produce than it saves but, hay, we've got to subsidize it too. And, let's not talk about the high cost of foods but still ethanol fuel is still sold at every gas pump. (That stuff also rots your engine's innards if left to sit too long.)

So... bring on the little Frankensteinian little bugs and we'll chomp our way through a redwood or two!
</RANT>
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 06/06/13 at 08:48 AM
I think it would just be easier to engineer a human with a multi-chamber stomach like a bovine. Problem solved, we would all be vegetarians and PETA would go out of business.
Posted by KDP on 06/06/13 at 12:54 PM
I read another article about a Virgin Tech researcher who only "ate wood". She was not allowing any to "plant roots" until marriage. 🐛 😝
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 06/06/13 at 01:07 PM
Joke of the day:
Q: What do gay termites eat?
A: Woodpeckers! :lol: :coolsmile:
Posted by Tyrusguy on 06/06/13 at 01:37 PM
Booooo! Hisssss!
Posted by KDP on 06/06/13 at 02:24 PM
I don't know why they're messing around with bacteria and chemistry to turn cellulose into food -- just feed it to a cow and you get beef.
Can't ask for better than that! 😊

Slattern Soup
1 Woodpecker
2 Quarts of water
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean and dress woodpecker as if for roasting. Put in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer until all the wood is gone.
Posted by Phideaux on 06/06/13 at 08:22 PM
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