What exactly is Quorn?
I have been asked that question regularly for more than 30 years.
This may be a reflection of the general population’s scientific illiteracy but most people remain hazy about the composition of Quorn – even those who eat it regularly.
However many of us are prepared to accept this understanding gap because Quorn seems to be on the right side of the prevailing food paradigm which holds that eating meat – fish – dairy and eggs is a redneck habit that has had its day – one that amounts to propagating cruelty and environmental ruin and will lead to dire consequences for human health.
On the other hand ‘plant food’ – an appealing neologism for vegetarian and vegan that owes its intellectual heft to US food writer Michael Pollan’s maxim “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – is riding high on a wave of moral purity and an extravagant ‘feed the world and save the planet’ promise.
The short explanation is that Quorn is a ‘mycoprotein’ fermented in vats from a fungus found in soil.
A fuller – but still heavily truncated – one is that it is made from a strain of the soil mould Fusarium venenatum by fermenting it then adding glucose – fixed nitrogen – vitamins and minerals and heat-treating it to remove excess levels of ribonucleic acid.
(In other words it is a long way from what the phrase ‘plant food’ may seem to denote.)