It’s rare that a new food source comes along. It’s even rarer to find one that holds the potential to provide a reliable food supply for billions of people without stressing the planet’s limited usable land and water resources. Yet, Nature’s Fynd seems to do just that.

The company has developed a microbe found in Yellowstone National Park into a product that is natural and versatile enough to be converted into a variety of food types. The mycelium-based starter acts similar to yeast (in fact, yeast is one product of mycelium). Once retrieved, it can continuously be fed and grown so there’s no need to repeat the harvest from the National Park. That also means it can be grown in any location, whether that’s a remote country or an urban center.

Related: Boost your morning with mushroom coffee in sustainable packaging

The nutritional fungi made by Nature’s Fynd is called Fy Protein™, and it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. As a meat substitute, this protein takes on the texture of meat without the need to raise livestock. That means it requires a fraction of the water, land and energy of traditional meat production. 

However, Fy Protein doesn’t have to take the form of a meat at all. It can be turned into a creamy texture, such as cream cheese. Showing the product’s versatility, the initial releases from Nature’s Fynd are two flavors of Meatless Breakfast Patties (original and maple) and Dairy-Free Cream Cheese in both plain and chive and onion. 

Family pack option of meatless patties and cream cheeses

Nature’s Fynd offers a rebalancing of food production that allows the environment to take a breath. With an estimated 50% of usable land and water resources currently being used to raise livestock, the future of food sustainability is weak without alternatives. 

According to the company, “Growing Fy is incredibly resource-efficient. Working with Life Cycle Analysis experts, we determined that Fy emits roughly 94% fewer greenhouse gasses, and uses 99% less land, and 99% less water than beef, with no methane emissions, and minimal waste.”

Nature’s Fynd products are made without antibiotics, hormones, insecticides, pesticides, or herbicides and are much lower in fat than standard meat and dairy products. For example, the meatless breakfast sausages (which can be crumbled into tacos, casseroles and many other recipes), contain six grams of fat and 11 grams of protein. The cream cheese has seven grams of fat compared to around 29 grams in traditional dairy brands. All products are vegan, nut-free and gluten-free. Products are available at grocery outlets across the country.

Two flavors of the dairy-free cream cheese

Review of Nature’s Fynd Products

The company offered to send samples for review. Subsequently, I received two packages of meatless breakfast patties, one container of flavored cream cheese and one container of plain cream cheese. Over the past week, I’ve asked for feedback from several family members. 

The cream cheese is a clear winner with everyone. The plain is just a touch tart while the chive and onion comes across as a bit sweet. The texture is creamy and spreadable. It’s great with crackers or as a spread on sandwiches or bagels. We particularly liked the herbed option.

The steadfast vegan in the group rated the plain a 10 but hasn’t had a chance to try the chive and onion blend. With more experience in dairy-free options, her opinion takes competition into consideration. For the rest of us, we were mostly comparing Nature’s Fynd products to some of our standard brand-name cream cheese favorites. Everyone agrees we wouldn’t know the difference if we didn’t know the difference. 

Meatless patties in a box in a pan

Moving on to the meatless breakfast patties. These were a harder sell. First off, our standard go-to breakfast meat is greasy and spicy. Although we don’t eat sausage very often, the Nature’s Fynd product isn’t something that is fair to directly compare. That’s true with most meat alternatives.

The vegan in the group, however, eats meat substitutes daily. She felt the original meatless breakfast patties were pretty good. They weren’t as good as her favorite brand, but she also said she thinks she would prefer the maple flavor. The texture is close to that of meat, but it’s still obvious it’s not meat.

We have another package of the meat substitute and I want to explore it as an ingredient in dishes we typically make with sausage. Perhaps a soup, casserole, or as a topping on pizza. It’s as versatile as any other meat in that way, so even if you don’t swap out your Jimmy Dean, you can use it in a variety of other ways. 

From an environmental standpoint, I will say I was a bit disappointed in the packaging. Often samples I receive come from a PR company instead of the actual manufacturer, and I can’t say for sure what the situation was here. Since the products were perishable, they were delivered in a box filled with single-use ice packs.

While the company did avoid using a plastic foam cooler, there were two sheets of styrofoam in the box to help insulate and hold the contents in place. Overall, it could be worse. But there are better alternatives, such as insulation packs made from corn that are fully biodegradable and can be used as plant food.

+ Nature’s Fynd

Images via Nature’s Fynd and Dawn Hammon