[Transcript] – Could This Be The Final Solution To The Vegetable Oil Problem? The Crazy New Technology Of “Cultured Oil” At Zero Acre Farms, With Jeff Nobbs.

Affiliate Disclosure



[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:49] Podcast Sponsors

[00:05:39] Podcast and Guest Intro

[00:09:41] What is the Kitavan Diet?

[00:17:42] Pervasiveness of vegetable oils in the food system and the correlation to rising incidence of chronic diseases

[0028:37] The environmental impact of vegetable oils

[00:32:58] The story of Zero Acre farms

[00:36:16] Podcast Sponsors

[00:41:29] The story of Zero Acre Farms

[00:45:14] How does the fermentation process works?

[00:59:29] The Future of Cultured Oils

[01:03:05] How to order cultured oil?

[01:06:38] Closing the Podcast

[01:07:49] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Jeff:  When we were looking first starting Zero Acre Farms and trying to solve this problem of how do we get vegetable oils out of the food system, that idea kind of came about partly through my restaurant experience and in not finding an oil that we could just use as a workhorse in the kitchen. And, talking to other chefs, it seems like we weren't the only ones and the oil that was used in restaurants was often an afterthought.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestor living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

Alright, it's no secret that if you see me with my fanny pack on, there's lots of stuff in that fanny pack like I'm constantly chewing gum, and I've got my credit cards in there, and I've got essential oils and essential oil vape pens and little tiny bottles of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil for when I go out to eat. But, I always have this bag of amazing salt. I travel everywhere with salt. I'm a salt fiend. It's amazing for minerals, for blood pressure, for adrenals, and a whole lot more. It makes everything super delicious. Even a crappy salad at the airport. The salt I use is super crunchy, these great big salt crystals. It's super clean. It's totally free of ocean-born microplastics, and it's the most flavorful salt I use. I use other salts, but this one is top of the totem pole. It's my favorite. I travel everywhere. When friends come to my house, I give them bags of this stuff. 

It's called Colima Salt. It's harvested from the Colima salt flats in Mexico. Not only do they support the salineros down there when you purchase this salt, so there's a point that people were harvesting it. You get your first bag for free. No code required at all. You just go to GreenfieldSalt.com. It's that easy. GreenfieldSalt.com, that'll get you a free bag of Colima Sea Salt. Got to try this stuff out. Way better than the Himalayan that has all the iron and toxins and plastics in it. Colima is the way to go, so flavorful. You're welcome because you're never going to look back when you switch to this salt. GreenfieldSalt.com.

Well, you might often hear that the average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. That's not always possible obviously. More and more people are forced to make lifestyle decisions to get more deep sleep. And, research has shown that quality matters just as much as quantity. Even if you can't stay in bed as long the quality of that sleep really truly matters. 

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Alright, let's talk about one of the best things you can do to improve your health. That's about seven hours of quality sleep every night. Yeah, it changes from person to person. Let's say it's seven-ish hours and it can be hard to get that much sleep. You can be in bed that long, but your mind keeps you awake, and you're uncomfortable, you wake up early, or in the wee hours, you can't fall asleep again. There are literally dozens of reasons why you might have a hard time getting seven hours of quality sleep every night. But, it's important because that's when your body heals itself. If you're not getting enough quality sleep, you're increasing your risk of a lot of chronic diseases, making it harder to lose weight and regulate your appetite. And, one way that you can come at this is to replenish your magnesium levels. 75% of people don't have enough magnesium, and that helps explain why so many people have sleep problems. It's not the only reason, but it's a big reason. Most magnesium supplements aren't full spectrum, so they don't fix your magnesium deficiency or help you sleep better. So, that kind of adds to the problem. People take magnesium, they don't realize the wrong kind.

There's seven forms of magnesium, seven unique forms. You got to get all of them if you want to experience the true calming and sleep-enhancing effects of magnesium. So, if magnesium hasn't worked for you in the past, there's probably a reason, you're probably not getting the right type of magnesium, the right form of magnesium. Magnesium Breakthrough by this company called BiOptimizers has all seven forms. You just take two capsules before you go to bed, although admittedly, I'm a glutton for punishment, so I take four because I think it really helps with the bowel movement the next morning. But, anyways, you'll be amazed by how much better you sleep, and frankly how much better your poop slips out the next day. So, you'll feel a lot more rested when you wake up with this stuff and you get 42%, 42 interesting number, but 42% discount on Magnesium Breakthrough when you go to MagBreakthrough.com/Ben. That's MagBreakthrough.com/Ben.

Well, folks, it's Monday morning right now, and my family and I like to have these glorious Sabbath day feasts on Sunday night. Yesterday, my sons and I had just gotten back from a bow hunting competition. And, my wife was gone, so I wandered out into the forest and I harvested a bunch of nettle and I foraged around and got black pearl and oyster and shiitake mushrooms, and came back and got everything all prepared on the counter and made some wild plant pesto with walnuts and pine nuts and parmesan and basil and nettle with the plants from the forest. And then, I took the mushrooms and did a little citrus salt and pepper and apple cider vinegar on them, and the salmon, a little dill and salt and pepper. 

But, for the oil, I actually totally switched lanes last night. I went way out of my comfort zone. I did not grab extra virgin olive oil. I did not grab avocado oil. Two of my cooking oils of choice. Nor did I grabbed butter or coconut oil or macadamia nut oil or any other oils with a high smoke point or good stability that I've talked about in the past. Instead, I grabbed this newfangled stuff that's produced via some form of microbial fermentation that I'd received a couple of days early, a tiny little bottle that reportedly had higher amounts of monounsaturated heart-healthy fats than avocado oil or olive oil, but also a smoke point that was ridiculously high like 485 or so degrees Fahrenheit. So, I slathered all over the mushrooms, use it on the salmon, and made this dinner and brought it to my family and they all absolutely loved it. And, the oil just performed remarkably and brought out the flavor of the food and had good taste and gave me everything I'd be looking for in say a vegetable oil without actually having to consume what I consider to be one of the scourges of the nutrition world. Vegetable oil.

So, anyways, this little bottle of oil that I use was from this new company called Zero Acre Farms. And, Zero Acre Farms is basically cracking the code on how to basically get a lot of these restaurants or packaged food, consumer food, what have you, all these people who are turning to vegetable oil because it's much less expensive than extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil. I've done podcasts in the past about how freaking five-star Napa Valley restaurants are cutting their olive oil half in half with canola oil just to cut costs. And, this is a very, very common practice. But, a big part of that is because vegetable oil is so cheap and affordable, and extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil and the like is not. 

But, what if something that performed like vegetable oil but that was actually healthy did exist? And, that's where this cultured oil that's being made by Zero Acre Farms fits in. I just found out about these folks. They just sent me a bottle, like I mentioned, I first tried it last night just to get a little taste of it before this podcast. And, I really, really want to fill you in on what this is all about. Well, I don't want to, I want my guests to.

My guest on today's show is Jeff Nobbs. Jeff originally had an early career in technology, founded a healthy fast-casual restaurant chain called Kitava. He was the CEO of a company called Perfect Keto. He co-founded a food security nonprofit organization called HelpKitchen. But now, he's the co-founder and CEO of Zero Acre Farms, which is making this new cultured oil. So, anyways, I'm going to let Jeff tell you more about what they're up to over there at Zero Acre Farms. But, all the shownotes for everything you're about to hear, you can grab at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ZeroAcrePodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com slash the word “zero,” Z-E-R-O-acre, A-C-R-E-Podcast. So, Jeff, welcome to the show, man.

Jeff:  Thanks, Ben. It's an honor to be here and great to talk to you.

Ben:  Yeah, you should have come over for dinner last night, dude. Where were you?

Jeff:  I've already eaten, it's Monday morning, but your description just made me hungry again.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, it actually was pretty good. And, I get that leftover mushrooms for lunch today, leftover mushrooms and leftover nettle, but I'm not joking, that oil worked really, really well.

And, I definitely want to learn more about the oil, but just backpedaling a little bit, I'm curious just as a foodie myself and my parents have been in the restaurant industry. I'd love to hear a little bit more about this restaurant Kitava that you ran and how that came to be and how you kind of got into the whole food industry in the first place.

Jeff:  Yeah. It goes back, the story goes back. Kitava is a result of just not being satisfied with the type of food that is available at most restaurants. And, Kitava was my first foray into food professionally. 15 years or so prior to Kitava, I had been thinking about food. First, as sort of a side interest, and then it became center stage in my life. And, I think I first got into food in high school actually when I was trying to get big for the high school football team. I was a skinny little scrawny kid, and I bought some cheap eBook on how to gain mass in 40 days, something like that was the title.

Ben:  By the way. I'm guessing I probably owned something very similar when I was in college standing behind the gym counter as a gym manager. I remember thumbing through many books like that.

Jeff:  Oh, yeah. And, I'm sure you can imagine what was in it. All about macros and for putting on mass, all about just eating everything insight essentially. And so, I did that and I put on weight and I got bigger. And, most people are trying to lose weight, but for me, that was when the light bulb first went off that food has a really big impact on how we look, how we perform, how we feel. And so, I continued doing that for a while throughout my teenage years. And, as I was eating all this food, I started to think about, if I'm going to be eating so many calories, what should I be eating, and what will make me feel best? What will make me perform best? Mostly through the lens of wanting to look good and wanting to increase my bench press 1 rep max and things like that for the football team.

Doing a lot of that research, I just ended up with more questions than answers. This is still the case, but when you ask questions about diet, you're going to get 10 different answers from 10 different people.

Ben:  And, oddly enough, by the way, sometimes all of them can be right because there's 10 different versions of human biochemical individuality.

Jeff:  That's exactly right. And, especially in today's world, people want black or white answers, and especially in food, nutrition, health, it's nuanced, and the answer mostly lies in the gray area. And, to your point, it's often personalized. And, I didn't realize any of this when I was 15, 16, 17 trying to look into this stuff, I just expected very clear answers. Something like, “Hey, maybe we shouldn't be drinking so much Coca-Cola and soda and sugar.” Everyone seemed to agree on that. And so, I was expecting the rest of diet and nutrition to follow a similar framework of should we eat this, yes or no? Certainly, it's more complicated than that.

I grew up, though, eating a fairly standard American diet. Plenty of Costco packs of croissants and hot pockets and bagel bites, and all the rest. But, I still, I wanted to figure out what I could do that was better. And, several years of this kind of had some clarity, but in my early 20s, my parents passed away from different chronic diseases, six months apart, and I now see those diseases as preventable. And, at the time, I wanted to figure out why they got sick, why that happened, and maybe how I could prevent that from happening to anyone else. And, that's sort of became my life mission was looking at chronic disease and what causes it and how to reverse it. Most of my family was in medicine, including my mother, she was a nurse, but my father had always been an entrepreneur. So, when a problem kind of came onto my radar, what naturally was the next step in my mind was creating a business to try and solve that problem. At the time I was running an eCommerce business that had nothing to do with food but learning a lot about running businesses. And so, during that time, I was also reading research from the CDC from molecular biology textbooks and biochemistry textbooks, really trying to understand this problem. And, chronic disease obviously is a huge issue, especially in the U.S.

The result of all this research was what I thought was a pretty good diet that would help prevent disease. But, what boggled my mind was that this was not at all the diet that was available to most people, and the channel where we consume most of our calories, which is restaurants certainly wasn't available via packaged foods. And so, I thought if we can make a big impact on what people eat, the way to do that is by changing the food that we get in the number one source of our calories in restaurants. So, I started one with a friend and that restaurant became Kitava. And, Kitava is —

Ben:  Where was that up, by the way? What city?

Jeff:  It's in the Bay Area. We have a couple of locations in San Francisco and Oakland. And, maybe your listeners, especially your listeners maybe have heard the word Kitava before. Kitava is an island off of Papua New Guinea, remote island where they essentially have found no disease there. It's population largely free of disease. They can barely find any sort of pimples on their faces, and they eat a diet that is certainly free of seed oils and vegetable oils, but largely whole food-based diet. And, that's how humans should be, disease-free. So, we named the restaurant after that island as a nod to that way of eating.

Ben:  That's pretty cool. By the way, I've talked about the Kitavan diet before on my podcast about this idea of fish and coconut oil, and some of these citrusy and plant-based fibers. And, the interesting thing is that there's a disproportionately high number of apple lipoprotein E-44 carriers on the island of Kitava, which in a Western diet context typically manifests in pretty significant onset of dementia, Alzheimer's and heart disease, often early age. And, despite these folks having that same gene, it's not manifesting interestingly, based on their Kitavan diet. I'll linked to a couple of a podcast and stories I've done about that before, but it actually really is quite interesting. That doesn't necessarily mean as we were kind of alluding to earlier that the Kitavan diet is the bees knees for everybody, but at the same time, it really, really is interesting how it seems to offer a great deal of protection against these folks from their built-in genotype.

Jeff:  That is really interesting. And, you know what I think is especially interesting is a lot of these folks, Kitavans, they smoke, they have access to cigarettes, and yet they're still not seeing the disease rates we are today, which points to diet and other lifestyle factors. And, to your point, I think there's so much to learn from hunter-gatherer societies, and it's the best tool we have to figure out how did humans live before all of this modern technology. So, it's important to make sure those societies don't get influenced too much by Western modernities.

Ben:  Yeah. And, interestingly the Kitavan diet like I mentioned, they got fish, they got coconut, they got fruit. I know they do a lot of underground storage organs too like yam and sweet potato, purple potato or Taro, kind of similar to what you might experience say if you were to go visit Hawaii and eat the indigenous Hawaiian diet. But, interestingly, their diet is notoriously absent of a lot of cereals and grains and sugars, which I think can be an issue but is not as big of an issue for people who don't have a compromised gut or people who are physically active as the oils and the margarines that the people in Kitava also do not consume. 

And, I've said this before, if I was at a fair and someone walked up to me and offered me a stick of cotton candy or a corn dog, I'd pick the cotton candy 10 times out of 10 because it's just glucose. I can walk around the fair, I can burn it off, I can bench press, I can go on a run. Yeah, I mean, long term, I'd rather not do the cotton candy or the corn dog, but I wouldn't take the corn dog because of the rancid processed oils in it that basically are going to be used to comprise my cell membranes and my body for the next several months. I mean, like the vegetable oils are much, much bigger problem in my opinion than even the cereals, grain, sugars even fructose and some of the other stuff that gets thrown under the bus these days.

And, that's something I want to talk with you a little bit about before I hear more about how you're actually fermenting and creating different oils is just this idea behind vegetable oils and their pervasiveness in our food system, and what's wrong with that. And, you're free to start wherever you want to start, but I'm just curious what your take on this single most significant change in the human diet. Basically, the fast-rising consumption of vegetable oil and the rise in chronic disease, and if you feel there's a correlation, and if you could expound on that.

Jeff:  Yeah, absolutely. And, just going back to the Kitavans for a second. I also find it interesting that a lot of Pacific Island nations like Kitava, they have diets that are largely root vegetables. It's not only a component, but some populations, we're talking 80% plus of calories coming from carbohydrates via mainly root vegetables like sweet potatoes and other diets like the Inuit, which of course you know, consume very, very little carbohydrate and primarily protein and fat from animals, yet there's no culture or population that has ever consumed large amounts of vegetable oils.

Ben:  Right, right. Oh, and real quick, I should note. Sorry to interrupt. Much to the chagrin of a lot of our keto listeners, when you're talking about many of these islanders who actually eat a high carb diet, if you look at the Aztecs and the ancient Egyptians like very, very high carb, and you don't see the manifestation of chronic disease in some of these societies. But, it's important to note not only are the carbohydrates primarily comprised of as you just noted tubers and then fruits and vegetables but they're not accompanied by the industrial seed oils that can result in insulin insensitivity that makes the carbohydrates very damaging. There's very active people dirtying a lot of anti-inflammatory foods which combat any type of inflammation that might be present from the sugars like fish and coconut oil and stuff like that. Typically, their circadian rhythm is more spot on, they aren't sitting at a desk for 40 plus hours a week, they're not exposed to a lot of environmental toxins. And so, a high carb diet and possibly there's some theory about even the proximity to the equator allowing for better insulin sensitivity, better vitamin D production, a little bit better ability to be able to handle fruits and vegetables and carbs and stuff like that. So, this is an argument for high-carb diet, but it's showing that it's probably not carbs that are the issue when it comes to chronic disease.

Jeff:  We are speaking the same language, Ben. And, the metaphor that I've heard and have used in the past is that if you already have metabolic issues, throwing a lot of carbohydrates at that may not be a good idea. And, if you look at those metabolic issues like a house on fire, eating a high-carb diet is like throwing a lot more wood in that house that's on fire. But, carbohydrates probably weren't the initial spark that lit the house on fire, it's looking like that was seed oils, the overconsumption of seed oils.

Ben:  Right.

Jeff:  And, to answer your question about the correlation between these oils and disease, chronic disease is a major issue. You've talked about this before. The stats on this are crazy, six in 10 American adults have chronic disease, four in 10 have multiple chronic diseases. So, 40% of the country is walking around with heart disease and diabetes or cancer and dementia at least if not three or four, it's tragic. And, for the first time in recorded history, we're seeing a decrease in healthy life expectancy in the U.S. And, we're the only country in the world where this is happening outside of a few war-torn countries. It's really unacceptable, in my opinion, and I think there are certainly a lot of things to blame, but diet is center stage. And so, when we look at, well, what's changed from the time when we didn't have chronic disease or it was very low single-digit percentage of the population to today where it's 60% of the adult population in this country. And, certainly, we ate more carbohydrates through the 1900s. But, we've actually eaten less sugar and less carbohydrate for the last couple of decades while obesity and disease rates have continued to go up.

We're not eating any more saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium. We're not eating any fewer fruits and vegetables, we're not eating any fewer micronutrients, we're smoking less, we're drinking less alcohol, everything the CDC says we should do to prevent disease, we're actually doing it. The exception is the consumption of vegetable oils. That is the one major food in our diet that has increased in line with increasing rates of chronic disease. Now, of course, this is just correlation. This isn't the gold standard randomized controlled trial, but it points a really big finger at vegetable oils as a component of our diet that we should shine a spotlight on and look at in a little bit more detail to figure out what's really going on when we eat these things. And, we can talk about that. That's been done over the last few decades and the results aren't looking good.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jeff:  There are a lot of ways to look at why are vegetable oils bad or are vegetable oils bad. And, one is the evolutionary precedence that we talked about where there isn't one, there's no population in the history of the world that has started consuming vegetable oils and not gotten sick and overweight and obese. Similarly, there's no population that's sick and overweight and obese that doesn't consume vegetable oils. So, that's just a starting point. You can also look at just common sense and we can get into the randomized controlled trials. But, how much real food would you have to eat to get the amount of oil that you'd get in a typical restaurant meal? Maybe five tablespoons of oil in a typical restaurant meal.

Ben:  Oh gosh, a ton.

Jeff:  An impossibly large amount. So, let's just start with corn oil. A lot of Mexican food restaurants will cook with corn oil. Just to get five tablespoons of corn oil in them, that might be what you find in a nachos or burrito or something like that. You'd have to eat 98 ears of corn, 98 corn on the cobs to get five tablespoons of corn oil. If you use sunflower seeds, you'd have to eat nearly 3,000 sunflower seeds to get those five tablespoons. Forty cups of brown rice to get five tablespoons of rice brown oil.

Now, this just points to, hmm, if it would have been evolutionarily impossible to consume this amount of these seed oils, what's happening? And, what happens is we get an unnaturally large amount of omega-6 linoleic acid. And, linoleic acid is found in pretty much every food, and it's found in maybe 1, 2% of that food upwards 3, 4%. But, these seed and vegetable oils contain 50, 55 up to 75% omega-6 linoleic acid. So, yeah, that's just the common sense piece combined with the trends in consumption. And so, we can talk a little about what happens when you eat all that omega-6 fat. But, it really does come down to seed oils being very high in this type of fatty acid omega-6 linoleic acid that humans have never before consumed. And then, the way we grow these vegetable oils is extremely inefficient.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, I want I want to talk about what it does to the environment into the body for sure. Now, of course, I have to push back a little bit about the idea that, well, whatever if you got five tablespoons of corn oil and that requires 100 ears of corn to get or a few tablespoons of sunflower oil, whatever you said, 3,000 sunflower seeds, well, you could say the same thing about how many avocados to get avocado oil or how many olives to get olive oil or the fact that a lot of people will do these superfood greens powders that you have to eat tons and tons and oodles of vegetables to be able to get the benefits of. 

I don't think that the flaw is the hyper concentration of oils or nutrients or anything like that, I think it's more of the damage that occurs during the extraction and the processing combined especially for the examples that you raised like corn or seeds or grapes or rice, the concentration of the linoleic acid which you actually don't see in other things that you could hyper concentrate like olives or avocado oil. So, I don't think the evil necessarily lies in hyper concentration of nutrients or fatty acids, I think the problem lies in the nature of what it is that you're concentrating. Meaning, in this case, high levels of omega-6 fatty acids or linoleic acid combined with the extraction methods leading to damage of some of the more fragile components of those foods, particularly the fats. And, I think that's where the issue lies. I would never want people to think, well, just because something's hyper-concentrated, it's dangerous, it's more what's in it that's made it hyper-concentrated, and also what extraction method was used that may have or have not done damage to that compound. Does that make sense?

Jeff:  That completely makes sense and I couldn't agree more. It's very easy to look at something like the active processing or the act of concentrating and want to call that generally good or bad. It's neither. I think it just means, hey, we should take a closer look at this if it's something that requires hyper concentration that wouldn't have otherwise been available before modern processing. Let's just take a second look and make sure there's nothing in there that's cause for concern. And, in the case of seed oils when you take that second look and you see this large amount of linoleic acid and omega-6 fat and you do the additional studies, turns out there is cause for concern.

Ben:  Oh, yeah. I mean, I've gotten into this a lot before on the podcast, the issues with the excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a typical Western diet in the very high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. I mean, if you were to go to PubMed and look at the pathogenesis of many diseases like cardiovascular disease, or cancer, or inflammatory, or autoimmune disease, you see a very good correlation between the omega-6, omega-3 ratio and the amount of damaged fatty acids that one might be consuming and the onset of these diseases. And, a lot of times you see the flip side when it comes to like the omega concentration. And, I've done interviews about this as well that I'll link to in the shownotes the concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and an increase in HDL, in protective HDL, or a decrease in the rate of cardiovascular disease. We could talk util we're blue in the face about the damaging effects of some of these rancid processed fatty acids, but really, I've kind of kicked that horse to death, as has Cate Shanahan. I think that's one of the better books out there on fats. Do you recall the name of her book? Now I'm blanking on it.

Jeff:  “Deep Nutrition” is her first and the “Fat Burn Fix.”

Ben:  Yeah, “Deep Nutrition” and the “Fat Burn Fix” if you really want to wrap your head around what the problem is with these fatty acids. Those are really, really great books. But, I don't think it's a newsflash to folks that canola oil, or grapeseed oil, or processed sunflower oil, or even rice oil, things like that are doing damage to their bodies. I think what a lot of people may not realize, Jeff, is the environmental impact as well like deforestation, a lot of the other issues. Can you get into that?

Jeff:  Yeah, absolutely. And, your audience likely is very familiar with the health issues. You've talked about it on a number of podcasts quite eloquently, and you would think this would now be mainstream conventional nutritional knowledge. Unfortunately, we're not there yet, but hopefully, we'll get there. And, I think the negative environmental impact of vegetable oil crops may actually help our cause in bringing the health issues to the forefront. We've seen this with other types of foods that are allegedly bad for the environment is that shines a spotlight on. Well, is it good for our health anyways? And, in the case of vegetable oil crops, when we're destroying the environment to grow food that kills us essentially that harms us, that's what makes the least amount of sense. It would be one thing if there were a food that was not so great for the environment, but it was some sort of superfood that extended our life span. Then, we're kind of making a tradeoff; whereas with vegetable oils, there is no trade-off. And, to get into some of the details here, the process of growing a crop to press its seed for oil is highly inefficient. And, vegetable oil crops are now two of the top three causes of global deforestation, specifically soybean and palm oil. And, they're approaching a third, I think they're around 30% now of global croplands are just dedicated to vegetable oil crops.

So, essentially what farmers do, not our company is clear rainforest because often these crops grow and very temperate or tropical regions, clear rainforest or some other natural ecosystem, plant a bunch of seeds, wait six months or so for those seeds to grow, harvest the plant, tear it out completely and press its tiny seeds for an even tinier amount of oil and then feed the leftover of those seeds to animals, feed the oil to humans, and then do it all over again. Often requiring irrigation, fertilizer, glyphosate, subsidies to make it affordable, and then a bit of a blind eye to actually make it economical at all. And, we've done this at such a mass scale of vegetable oils are now the most consumed food in the world after rice and wheat. Even though they're so prevalent, they're still the fastest growing sub-sector of global agriculture. So, this problem isn't going away anytime soon. Massive use of land. And, when you look at what crops are leading to greenhouse gas emissions or CO2 emissions, four of the top five most greenhouse gas emitting crops are vegetable oil crops. So, there's really no reason that we should be destroying the planet to grow these oils and fats that do so much harm to our health, too.

Ben:  In terms of the actual evidence, I know some people might still be pushing back or may not be familiar with the evidence on the health aspect, but what I'll do is I'll put a link to a bunch of studies in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/ZeroAcrePodcast. Because I mean, you can look at the study on soybean oil and the obesogenic and diabetic potential of that compared to coconut oil, you can look at the onset of osteoarthritis in terms of the ratio of plasma omega-6, omega-3 fatty acids, you can look at the omega-6/3 ratio and dementia or cognitive decline. There's a bunch on omega-6 fatty acid in breast cancer. The linoleic acid that you were talking about to get so hyper-concentrated in these vegetable oils, Jeff, there's this stuff called anandamide which is the bliss molecule that's like this addictive molecule. It actually increases the addictive potential of food and induces obesity. I mean, the list of studies goes on and on when it comes to this stuff, yet the problem is not only is it pervasive, but it's pervasive and even health foods. 

I've talked about before how I walk into the healthy food section of the airport newsstand and pick up my sugar snap peas, or beet chips, or whatever else, and you look at the label and typically in addition to whatever vegetable that's in there, there's soybean oil or canola oil, or some other problematic oil in combination often with sugar. And then, like I mentioned, most restaurants, it's almost always canola oil or sometimes even a good oil that's just been sitting out in the heat and in the light for a long time which can also damage olive oil and avocado oil, and you almost just have to have your Spidey sense up 24/7 when it comes to these oils, again, because of their pervasiveness. So, yeah, it's a huge problem. And so, I'll link to more studies in the shownotes for those of you who need more proof of that.

But, I think what we should talk about now is what you've been up to. So, I want to get into Zero Acre Farms and how it came to be and what you guys are doing over there. I realize there's probably a lot in there, but I'd love to hear the story.

Jeff:  Definitely. And, to your point about the snap peas or beet chips, so many of these foods and even with so many restaurant meals, we're so close to them being delicious and at least benign if not proactively healthy. But, often the one thing that holds it back is soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil. That's really frustrating. And, eating out is really fun, it's a very social experience, you get to try new foods, all these chefs, different chefs' best creations. But, you have in the back of your mind, oh man, this stuff is cooked in a lot of soybean oil —

Ben:  I know, I know, I've always got activated charcoal waiting for me back home when I go to eat just because I know.

Jeff:  Yeah. And, I've heard you talk about spirulina and glycine before as the first aid kit with vegetable oils, which I think is really smart. They want to get to Zero Acre Farms is folks who don't listen to nutrition podcasts or read health books or spend their free time reading up on PubMed, they can just go out to eat, they can go eat over at a friend's house, they can eat packaged food, and they don't have to bring their first aid kit and they're not eating foods that actively harm them. And, this was the north star for Zero Acre Farms from the start. And so, to back up, give a little backstory here, when I was running Kitava, the restaurant that we talked about, it was fairly straightforward to get the best version of different ingredients to get the 100% grass-fed beef instead of the factory-farmed beef to use the pasture-raised eggs, to use the organic produce, that sort of thing. But then, when it came to using oils and fats, there wasn't a clear answer and everything seemed like it required some trade-off if we wanted an oil that we could cook the heck out of in a deep fryer or a wok, an oil that would have a neutral enough flavor so it could be used in everything from salad dressings to Asian stir-fries.

And, talking to a lot of other restaurant owners, Ben, you've alluded to this and you'll know this frustration firsthand going to a restaurant and asking if they can cook in olive oil only to find out that that olive oil they used was actually 80% canola oil. And, the reason for this is partly costs which you mentioned, but also the properties of olive oil. Partly, the flavor which is dip a good sourdough bread and some nice extra virgin olive oil with a little salt, there's nothing better, but that's not necessarily a flavor that restaurants want in all of their dishes and olive oil tends to clump up in the fridge. So, when you're making dressings ahead of time, it's difficult for restaurants to do that if it's going to be in the fridge for the next couple days. 

So, when we were looking first starting Zero Acre Farms and trying to solve this problem of how do we get vegetable oils out of the food system, that idea came about partly through my restaurant experience and in not finding an oil that we could just use as a workhorse in the kitchen. And, talking to other chefs, it seemed like we weren't the only ones and the oil that was used in restaurants was often an afterthought. Every other ingredient, especially Michelin-starred restaurants had been thoughtfully accounted for, and then restaurant would just buy bulk olive oil from the soybean oil from the distributor.

Ben:  Hey, so there's this company called Timeline. Now, Timeline as the name might imply if you're paying attention is an anti-aging or a longevity company but it's very unique. They rely upon what are called postbiotics, which are the nutrients your body makes during digestion and an emerging driver based on research of really good health span and lifespan. It's one of the first so-called postbiotics to be shown to have these major health benefits. It upgrades your body's cellular power grid, meaning it operates to increase the health and the density of your mitochondria, 500 milligrams alone of urolithin A significantly increases muscle strength and endurance with no other change in lifestyle which is crazy. And, this company called Timeline Nutrition like I mentioned, they have this stuff called Mitopure. Mitopure is urolithin A, and they have it as this great tasting berry powder that you could mix with a yogurt or a smoothie, they have it in a protein powder so you get the muscle health benefits of whey protein added to the bioenergetics of the urolithin A in the Mitopure and then soft gels for the days when you're on the run and you just want to conveniently grab and go.

If you haven't tried urolithin A and you're into the whole anti-aging longevity scene, got to try this stuff out. Timeline's going to give you 10% off your first order of Mitopure. So, you go to TimelineNutrition.com/Ben, TimelineNutrition.com/Ben. Use code BEN to get 10% off your order. That's T-I-M-E-L-I-N-E-N-U-T-R-I-T-I-ON, TimelineNutrition.com/Ben. I recommend you try their starter pack which has all three; the berry powder, the protein powder, and the soft gel so you can try all of them. So, TimelineNutrition.com/Ben.

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It's so crazy. I've been to five-star sushi restaurants because some restaurants you can see behind the counter. And, that's for a reason. Like a sushi restaurant, they want you to see the chefs, but I mean I've leaned forward and looked underneath and it's literally the cheapest ass vegetable oil from the grocery store. I've seen Jiffy's peanut butter down there for some their high-end rolls. They have little bits of peanuts and it's crazy. It's like they'll go to the far reaches of Japan and France to harvest some fringe superfood to put in their sprouted salad and then just drench it in a super problematic oil. It is really weird. It's like this cognitive bias or something.

Jeff:  Yeah, yeah, it really is. And, hopefully altogether educating about this and we can slowly, slowly change that. There's precedent for that. We used to cook everything in animal fats. And then, because of consumer demand and different demands of organizations, restaurants switch to trans fats a few years later realized, “Oops, that was a horrible idea. This is actually killing people.” So, there was again pressure to switch from trans fats to now what everyone uses which is vegetable oils.

We're now on the third item on the list in terms of preference. The preference was animal fats. All fast-food restaurants use that. Then, there was pressure to switch to trans fats which were as stable as animal fats and remained liquid. Then, we realized that was bad to switch to vegetable oils. Chefs don't really want to use this, it's just the only option that's available really and so we want to do something about that. And, I researched, “Can we scale up regenerative agriculture beef tallow? Can we scale up olive oil?” And, for various reasons, we can go into but for various reasons, none of those were scalable or they weren't realistic. And, some of the oils unfortunately that are better for our health because they're lower in omega-6 fats are the oils that are most problematic for the environment. And, palm oil is an example of this, tends to be lower in omega-6 fats but is wreaking havoc all along the tropics. It only grows within 10 to 15 degrees of the equator so it's competing for land with rainforests. And unfortunately, the same goes for other fruit oils whether that's coconut oil or olive oil, they tend to be problematic. In the case of olive oil, they're up there with almonds as some of the thirstiest crops that require the most water. Coconut oil only grows in areas that tend to be extremely biodiverse like rainforest so it has the biggest negative impact on biodiversity.

So, I was looking at all of this and banging my head against the wall on how to solve this problem of vegetable oils at scale with an oil that would actually do the trick and there wasn't anything. So, I came across some scientific literature about using a method of fermentation to produce healthy oils and fats. And, this research has actually been going on for decades but no one had had really done anything with it in the context of solving this problem of vegetable oils. And, I thought that there was an opportunity there and a big gap. And, the more I looked into it, the more I realized that fermentation was the key here and that we didn't have to only have two categories of vegetable oils as one and animal fats as the other, but there's room for this additional category of oils, fats made by fermentation. And, when you make oils and fats using fermentation, you get this incredible fatty acid composition and a fraction of the environmental footprint about 10 times lower than vegetable oil. And, that great environmental story also helps push these types of oils and fats. We call them cultured oil toward audiences that maybe otherwise wouldn't care so much about optimizing their fatty acid composition but do care about eating more sustainable foods. So, it's a nice one-two punch, better for health, better for the environment.

Ben:  Okay. So, fermentation like microbial oil production, how's that actually work? Like yogurt in my kitchen, I got to have typically some type of a sugar or starch to feed the bacteria, some type of a starter, typically a cream or a milk, a heating process where the fermentation occurs. And so, there's obviously more to it I would imagine than just putting some olives in a jar and let them sit for a while. So, how exactly does this work, this microbial oil production?

Jeff:  An explanation here is certainly important because this isn't something that folks are familiar with oil as a result of fermentation. The same would have been the case for each fermented food that we've now come to love. We also didn't have a name for these foods. So, what did we call beer before we had the word “beer”? What did we call yogurt? What did we call that thick tangy fermented substance from milk? We now call it yogurt and it seems obvious. But, this was a challenge we had. What do we call this? And, we ultimately landed on cultured oil. 

And so, what that means, what fermentation is every fermentation in food and the ones that you described are communities of microorganisms and we often call them cultures. And, these communities of microorganisms consume the sugars that are found in different plants or animal products like milk. So, that could mean consuming the sugars and in things like cabbage, milk, barley, grapes, and turning them into things like sauerkraut and cheese and yogurt and beer and wine. So, these cultures or microorganisms consume sugars and turn them into different outputs. In the case of bread, those outputs are CO2. For leavening in the case of beer, it's CO2 for carbonation and alcohol for beer's alcohol content. Lactic acid is what's produced by these cultures in the case of yogurt or also in sourdough bread which gives sourdough its sour. And, turns out there are also oil cultures. And, what oil cultures do is they transform sugars into healthy fats instead of lactic acid or alcohol or other fermentation outputs.

So, what cultured oil is is the output of an oil culture. And, it may be hard to wrap your head around now the same way it maybe would have been hard to first describe olive oil, it's just oil from an olive or beer, which is just fermented barley, cultured oil is from an oil culture. And so, what that process looks is a community of microorganisms. We call it an oil culture, and they consume natural plant sugars, they transform those plant sugars into healthy fats. And so, those fats are within that culture, it's then pressed like pressing olive oil. And, that pressed oil is separated, filtered, and basically put in a bottle. And, that's cultured oil.

Ben:  And, what type of plants do you start with?

Jeff:  We can start with any plant sugar. This is actually one of the things that's most interesting about cultured oil in my opinion is it's agnostic to where it is produced and to the exact plant sugars that are consumed. So, those sugars could come from sugarcane, from sugar beet, from other plant sources, and it partly depends on the geography. So, if cultured oil is produced in Europe, then something like a sugar beet may make sense because that's what grows most productively in Europe. If it's produced in say South America, something like sugar cane may make the most sense because that's what has grown most efficiently and sustainably there. But, at the end of the day, we just need a carbon source, and that carbon source most efficiently comes from sugar, which ultimately comes from plants photosynthesizing sunlight and storing that energy as sugar. That sugar is fed to these microbes and then they produce healthy fats.

Ben:  Super interesting. So, help me wrap my head around this because one of my sons was wondering this last night when I was showing the little bottle of oil that I used for the salmon and the mushrooms. Why wouldn't you just use extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil or butter or something like that? What is it that would make this such a game changer? Is it the environmental impact? Is it the cost and the scalability or something else?

Jeff:  What we found is every other oil requires some sort of compromise and it partly depends on what each consumer cares most about. Certainly, we didn't get into this mess of chronic disease and mass deforestation and environmental disaster by overconsuming artisanal extra virgin olive oil. At the same time, I don't think that olive oil and butter will get us out of this mess. And, there are a few issues. I really wish we could have found a way to scale that because it certainly would have been a lot easier. One of those issues is adulteration. And, you've talked about this before that there's been a history of adulteration for both olive and avocado oil.

Ben:  Yeah, I had a big podcast by the way with a guy named TJ who's known as Olive Oil Hunter. I subscribed to his quarterly to get extra virgin olive oil and passes the cough test like you were talking about kind of the pungentness of olive oil can actually make it sometimes something you wouldn't want to cook with. But, he went into the fact that even the olive oil is really not the polyphenol flavonol-rich spicy heart-healthy olive oil that you think you're getting half the time when you're just grabbing a bottle off the shelf at the grocery store.

Jeff:  Yeah, that's exactly right. The Olive Oil Hunter is an incredible name, and I think that is leaps and bounds ahead of something like you go to Costco and buy olive oil or you go to your local supermarket and buy olive oil. You don't really know what you're getting when you do that. If you know the source well, then that's a totally different story. That said, there are still environmental issues with olive oil. 

But, this comes back to something like TJ is doing, you get what you pay for. And, often the reason olive oil is so problematic for the environment is to make it more economical. So, olives grow on a tree and they grow very slowly. And, that creates a lot of interesting flavors, that creates the bitterness that we've come to enjoy. But, when we're trying to make olive oil cheaper and more economical, slow growth isn't something that farmers are looking for. And so, they irrigate with lots of water and that causes growth to accelerate, but it also causes this massive water footprint. So, there are ways to make olive oil better, it just means more artisanally and growing very slowly. And, as a result, it makes it more expensive.

And, olive oil is interesting. This is really the case with any oil crop. There's a huge spectrum of fatty acid compositions. So, some olive oils are quite low in omega-6 linoleic acid, others are as high as I've seen some that are as high as 27% omega-6, 21% omega-6. Fortunately, they have a lot of polyphenols and antioxidants that protect those delicate omega-6 fatty acids from oxidizing. When I'm choosing what to eat and I do eat out and I have a restaurant, so I eat out at restaurants and often, there's no way to control the amount of omega-6 that we're getting in those restaurants even when totally other separate topic but even when we're eating chicken and pork which is now so high in omega-6 linoleic acid from the vegetable oils and other crops that they eat. But, I'm all about minimizing the amount of omega-6 I get, and increasing consumption of omega-3s certainly helps, the smash died as you know and often recall.

Ben:  Sardines, mackerels, anchovies, salmon, and herring I think.

Jeff:  There it is. Yup. Certainly helpful. But, I'm trying to minimize the amount of omega-6 I consume. So, olive oil is certainly lower than soybean oil, sunflower oil at 50 to 75% linoleic acid, but even 15% linoleic acid, I'd rather have less, every percentage matters. And so, cultured oil, for example, we can get down to very low single digits like 1, 2, 3% linoleic acid in addition to the antioxidants that are in there. So, I think that's one thing. There's also the environmental impact. So, olive oil gets a bad rap when it comes to cooking, and I think part of that is justified but a large part is just bogus. And, olive oil is quite oxidatively stable compared to seed oils. So, we did a test and we put it to the test and we cooked cultured oil, olive oil, and a number of seed oils for five minutes, kept it going at 10, 30, 60, and beyond. And, we measured the oxidative products that resulted from this, specifically aldehydes like 4h and e, which is a toxin that wreaks havoc and causes all sorts of issues in our body. We do not want to kick off the lipid peroxidation process in large quantities inside our body. And so, the more we can minimize oxidation, the better.

When we did this test we found that there were no measurable aldehyde generation after five minutes of cooking which is, I don't know, you sear an egg or sauté an egg or cook something for a few minutes that's kind of what you're looking at. At 10 minutes, there was about 10 times less than olive oil and significantly less in other seed oils. And then, even cooking for 30 minutes and beyond, less than half as much oxidative oxidation or oxidative products as an olive oil and far less than in other seed oils. So, you ask about olive oil as an example, certainly better than others. That doesn't, in my opinion, mean that it's the perfect oil for cooking, but certainly makes one. A great salad dressing if you're using it fresh. Avocado oil has a lot of the same adulterations as olive oil. And, cultured oil is pretty cool, it stays liquid in the fridge. And so, that's nice if you're making a salad dressing the night before or you want to make a big batch of salad dressing that lasts the week. You won't have to take it out four hours before dinner, it'll just stay liquid in the fridge, it won't clump up. And, there are a lot of applications where people want a liquid oil to stay liquid.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jeff:  And, same goes for butter. Obviously delicious and a tasty spread on a nice piece of sourdough or maybe to put in your coffee if you're into that. But, two-thirds of the world is lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, sensitive to dairy, or avoids it for some other reason.

Ben:  That's a good point.

Jeff:  So, it's not for everyone.

Ben:  So, I know you can cook at it with a pretty high heat. I think, what'd you tell me? 485, something like that.

Jeff:  Yeah, that's the smoke point that's been measured.

Ben:  Yeah. Yeah, the smoke point obviously, I think that's a touch higher than olive or possibly even avocado. But, of course, that's enormously important especially when you're cooking at high temperatures, it returns back to the potential for damaging of the fragile oils if you are cooking with a low smoke point oil. The interesting thing about this one staying liquid even when it's in the refrigerator, it lends itself well to a lot of culinary use too in my opinion even though I just started experimenting with it literally last night. I would think that I don't know if you've experimented with this at all like infusion, like a lot of times I'll do oil extractions using turmeric or ginger or other herbs, and you can literally cook them down in the oil or the same way that you might make an infused alcohol like you can put a bunch of turmeric root and grind it and put it in vodka and make a tumor confused vodka. You can do these type of things with oils, but a lot of times it's hard to make an infused coconut oil or an infused butter. Or, it's not hard, it's a little time-consuming, you got to melt it down, put all your herbs, your salts, your spices in, and then you let it set, and then you can refrigerate it and have it available for say smearing on sourdough bread or using on top of a steak or something like that. But, I'm curious, if you ever experimented yet with infusing a microbial oil or enhancing the oil with different flavors.

Jeff:  We haven't done too much in the flavor department. Some of our advisors have done that and have reported back deliciousness. But, I've done a lot of infusions of olive oil with cultured oil. And, in my opinion, it's a way to get the best of both worlds. So, if I want to have a dressing or a dipping oil that has that bitterness of olive oil and get some of the polyphenols but I don't want it to clump up in the fridge, and if I'm going to cook with it maybe I want it to be a bit more oxidatively stable, increase the smoke point a bit, like a 50/50 blend of cultured oil and extra virgin olive oil is a really good way to do that. You don't lose much of the taste but you get all the benefits of having a more stable oil. And so, that's one good way to do it. 

We had talked about smoke point and often smoke points of 500 degrees or more are cited for oils like avocado oil. Avocado oil is what I had cooked with before cultured oil and we looked into this. And interestingly, there's actually no documentation of that smoke point in avocado oil. And, when you look online of citations for 500 degrees, it will link to something that links to something else that links to something else that links back to that original thing. So, it's kind of like this circle of citations. And, we couldn't find any primary evidence showing a smoke point of avocado oil that was over 482 degrees Fahrenheit. That was the highest we could find for avocado, which is still awesome. I mean, that's still a great really high smoke point.

Most other seed oils are kind of in that 400 to 450 range, and extra virgin olive oil lower smoke point, more in the low 400s or high 300s, but like we talked about, it's more oxidatively stable than those other seed oils. And so, cultured oil when we measured had a 485-degree Fahrenheit smoke point. So, that's the highest or one of the highest that we could find in the primary literature. And, while smoke point may not be as important for the rancid oxidized products we're eating and preventing that, certainly you don't want your kitchen to smoke, you don't want to inhale smoke from cooking oils, there are all sorts of acroleins and other aldehydes that travel with the smoke up into your lungs so you don't want that and you're literally burning things in the oil which can cause some other issues and maybe not great flavors. So, you want to minimize but you want to minimize the amount of smoking and you also want to minimize the oxidation. So, the best oils for cooking are those that have a high smoke point and are oxidatively stable. And, turns out cultured oil is when you chart smoke point on one axis and oxidative stability on the other, cultured oil is in the very top right of that chart.

Ben:  That's super cool. This is really cool.

And, the interesting thing is that you have the environmental impact, which is a lot lower, even then harvesting olives and avocados, some of the good stuff you've got the heart-healthy aspects of it, the higher amounts of monounsaturates than you'd even find in olive oil or avocado oil. The flavor at least to me seems just great, it doesn't have a super overwhelming flavor, but again that lends itself well to a wide variety when it comes to culinary usage. And, I'm curious, is this the single product? Are there more oils that you create using this process or is it just like this one oil that you guys are focused on making?

Jeff:  We're focused on cultured oil right now in terms of what we're bringing to market. We want to create an entire ecosystem around cultured oil the same way you've seen ecosystems kind of grocery store shelf ecosystems pop up around things like coconut oil or avocado oil. And, when you look at culture, well, compared to those much lower environmental footprint, much more oxidatively stable. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Ben, and appreciate that. Yeah, it's a very clean neutral taste, and it really lets the food flavor shine, which is often what you want. So, I've replaced all the oils in my cupboard with cultured oil. I do keep some high-quality extra virgin olive oil around, and I do keep some 100% grass-fed butter around. But yeah, it's basically the workhorse in the kitchen. And so, those other products in the ecosystem, just go to a grocery store and look at everything that's cooked in oil, you can imagine there's a lot of opportunity to make other foods, but we're starting with selling cultured oil online. And, while that's where we're starting, that's not where we see ourselves going long-term.

Ben:  Right.

Jeff:  Our mission is, and we say this somewhat tongue in cheek is to give the world an oil change. And, really going to get so far selling to home cooks, but we think it's an important place to start where we really want to go is how do we get McDonald's and Burger King and Wendy's? How do we get them to cook their French fries and better fat and healthier, more sustainable oils? And, hey, maybe that's cultured oil and we think that that would be great for people's health in the planet. But, it doesn't have to be. So, we're just really trying to grow and raise awareness around this problem. If some of that funnels to other healthy fats, other more sustainable fats, great, but that's where we have our sights set on packaged foods and restaurants. Part of the reason we're starting with home cooks is we got to bring the cost down and we do that through more production volume and we get more production volume through more people buying cultured oil and supporting the cause.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, there's no way I'm going to throw my extra virgin olive oil and butter and ghee for sure because I like some of the different flavors and varieties and textures. But, I could totally see this stuff like you're referring to not only becoming the workhorse in my kitchen but I think more, is a lot more exciting to think about it potentially becoming the replacement at places like Wendy's or McDonald's or Burger Kings as they're cooking oil. I mean, just imagine. I can't imagine what would actually happen in terms of the onset of chronic disease or at least the correlation of chronic disease with say fast food consumption if we could figure out a way to make it healthier. It's like people talk about Wi-Fi routers and how bad they are for you, yet technically you could take the signal of a Wi-Fi router and convert it to a healing frequency is just like nobody's doing it right now. This kind of reminds me of that. It's like, gosh, the impact would be huge because it's something that is so widespread, Wi-Fi routers and vegetable oil.

So, anyways, the thing is if were to go to your website right now and I'm not sure when this podcast is going to get released, but I couldn't see a place to actually order it, are you guys shipping already or is it a wait list scenario? Where you at?

Jeff:  We launched cultured oil July 26th, so maybe this podcast will have gone live by then, and then everyone can order cultured oil, but we're getting very close.

Ben:  Okay. And, I know we've got some kind of a code for free shipping or something like that. I'll put it in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/ZeroAcrePodcast. But, I mean, what is the price comparison like? Are we talking about something that's affordable at all or is the R&D on this from a back-end perspective just so big that it's a spendy oil?

Jeff:  It's similar to a premium extra virgin olive oil or organic avocado oil. It's in that ballpark. And, the more you buy, the less expensive it gets. We have to pay for shipping costs, so it's simply more efficient. Lower carbon emissions too. You can buy multiple bottles at a time. So, it gets under 20 bucks per bottle when you do that, which is in the neighborhood of something like an organic avocado oil. And, it's somewhere in between your kind of run-of-the-mill canola oil and a premium extra virgin olive oil, sort of right in the middle of that pricing.

Ben:  Do you think that's going to be palatable to the average fast-food restaurant at that price point? Are you guys going to figure out a way to scale it?

Jeff:  We have to figure out a way to bring the cost down. And, what's interesting is when you look at our costs for cultured oil that we're selling online, so many of those costs are just things like the bottle and the cardboard box that ships in, and the supply chain to get it to the customer. And so, when we sell B2B, that cost comes down about 80 to 90% just by being able to sell large amount of cultured oil in a big tote that just goes directly to that customer. We're not all the way there yet, but we're very close in terms of B2B. And, we've seen some restaurants and packaged food companies that are willing to make a change if consumers really demand it and know that that will, at the end of the day, increase sales for them. And so, we hope that happens with cultured oil and that these restaurants see the benefits. That said, where we need to get to in the next several years is to bring the cost down so that even if restaurants could care less about the health of their customers or the health of the planet is just the right business decision to use cultured oil. And, I think we'll get there, but it'll take a little bit of time.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, anything I can do to support I'm happy to. And, that's one of the reasons I want to get this podcast out. I just see this being potentially one of the big, big solutions to the big vegetable oil problem that we unpacked earlier in the show. And, it's a pretty amazing new technology. I'm stoked. I got to get my hands on some more bottles though to start to cook with it and experiment with it and maybe infuse it. I just want to play with it and see what I can do with it as a wannabe chef, I just love playing with new ingredients, and this stuff's pretty cool and I like that it's environmentally friendly. I could see it totally being scalable, especially more people get on board. So, I would encourage everybody listening in, go grab a bottle, support this thing. Let's get it off the ground. BenGreenfieldLife.com/ZeroAcrePodcast is where I'll put the shownotes, I'll linked to a bunch of the studies that we talked about, previous episodes that I've done with folks like Cate Shanahan who we talked about, and TJ, the Olive Oil Hunter, if you want to take an even deeper dive into oils.

And, Jeff, I want to thank you for doing what you're doing, for coming on the show, for sharing this with us. And, I also want to wish you the best of luck with this because I think it could be really, really big for the health of the world as a whole.

Jeff:  Thanks, Ben. Really appreciate that. And certainly, we will need some luck in addition to a lot of other things. And, I think we can really measure the success here based on global rates of chronic disease.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jeff:  If folks go to ZeroAcre.com/Ben, we did create a special discount. They'll get free shipping on their first order of cultured oil. And, Ben will definitely send you a bigger bottle, so you could do some more experimentation. I would love to hear how it goes.

Ben:  Good, good, except little ones already half gone from last night's dinner. So, ZeroAcre.com/Ben. Is that what you said people can go?

Jeff:  Yup.

Ben:  Okay. Alright, sweet. Well, folks, I hope this has been helpful for you and I hope this has gotten you thinking a little bit about the oils that you use and the choices that you make when it comes to your health and the environment. And, until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Zero Acre Farms, Jeff Nobbs signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot. 


How do we get vegetable oils out of the food system?

That's the question that my podcast guest on this show – Jeff Nobbs of Zero Acre Farms – is determined to answer, in a very unique fashion.

Now, if your question is, “But why do we need to eliminate vegetable oils? Aren't they, after all, from (healthy) vegetables?”, let me get you quickly up to speed.

The consumption of vegetable oil has skyrocketed in recent years, while healthier fats like coconut oil have been eased out. The reasons behind this shift are many, but economics is a significant factor. Vegetable oils are cheap, and even high-end restaurants are starting to cut their olive oil with vegetable oil to reduce costs. These days, it's hard to find a “healthy” packaged snack, like popcorn, nuts, or vegetable chips, that isn't doused in vegetable oil. What many people still don't realize is that vegetable oils are leading drivers of chronic disease, negatively impacting your metabolism, levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, weight, and cancer risk (for more on the studies behind the facts, you can read this series of articles by my guest Jeff Nobbs). Ruthlessly eliminating inflammatory oils from your diet, particularly vegetable oil, is one of the best nutrition decisions you can make for your overall health.

Then there's the environmental impact of vegetable oils. Canola, sunflower, soybean, and palm oil are among the most environmentally destructive crops in the world. Vegetable oils emit more greenhouse gasses per kilogram than any other major crop, and they're a top cause of global deforestation, taking up more land than all fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, roots, and tubers combined.

So, now are you on board with getting vegetable oils out of your diet and the food system? ;)

Thankfully, health-minded leaders are starting to take notice. Zero Acre Farms is a company that makes oils from fermentation, not cleared rainforests, and they seem to have found an affordable, healthy, environmentally-friendly alternative to what I consider to be one of the scourges of the nutrition world.

I recently tried their new and unique Cultured Oil for a Sunday night feast with my sons. After a wander out in the forest for nettle and wild mushrooms, I put together a delicious meal of wild plant pesto, salmon, and the mushrooms. Normally I would have grabbed extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, my two cooking staples, but instead, I decided to try this newfangled stuff I'd been sent a few days earlier. The Cultured Oil has higher levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats than other oils and still has a ridiculously high smoke point at around 485 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil performed remarkably well, perfectly bringing out the flavors of the food. My family loved it.

Jeff Nobbs, the man behind Zero Acre Farms, is a healthy food innovator on a mission to reverse chronic disease and help fix the many problems in today’s food system. After an early career in technology, Jeff founded the healthy fast-casual restaurant chain Kitava, served as COO of Perfect Keto, and co-founded food security non-profit HelpKitchen. Jeff is now co-founder and CEO of Zero Acre Farms.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What is the Kitavan Diet?…09:22

-Pervasiveness of vegetable oils in the food system and the correlation to rising incidence of chronic diseases…17:46

-The environmental impact of vegetable oils…28:28

-The story of Zero Acre Farms…32:59

-How does the fermentation process work?…44:34

-The future of cultured oils…58:49

-How to order cultured oil?…1:02:52

-And much more…

-Upcoming Events:

Resources from this episode:

Jeff Nobbs:

– Podcasts and Articles:

– Books:

– Studies:

– Other Resources:

Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Jeff Nobbs or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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