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In 2009, a team of researchers discovered a previously unknown microbe in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. Now, the fungus is the star ingredient in a new line of food products.

“It was very, very high in protein. And it’s actually a very exciting protein because it’s a complete protein,” says Thomas Jonas, CEO of Nature’s Fynd. “There are really not that many sources of complete protein out there.”

Jonas’s Chicago-based startup developed a process to ferment the fungus and create what’s now called Fy protein. They’re using it to make a variety of foods.

“So we’ve been able to make things that range from chicken nuggets, hamburgers, breakfast sausages to yogurts and cheese,” Jonas says.

Earlier this year, the company offered a limited line of cream cheese and breakfast sausage on its website. Jonas says the products will soon be sold at stores.

He foresees growing demand for protein-filled foods produced more sustainably than meat and dairy. 

“That whole supply chain is completely inefficient and using a tremendous amount of resources of land, of water, energy,” he says.

So Jonas says Fy could provide a more climate-friendly alternative.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media