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Ice cream made with less toxic cow burps debuts at London's Ruby Violet

When cows eat, their stomachs ferment plant material into a digestible form. The process produces methane, which cows burp out. Since methane is a potent greenhouse gas capable of trapping more heat in the earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide, scientists and entrepreneurs are scrambling to find a solution.

A frontrunner is Swiss-British agritech firm Mootral, which developed a blend of garlic and citrus that doesn't impact milk yield or taste but can reduce a dairy cow's methane emissions by up to 38%. Along with bovine digestion tweaks by other innovators, including daffodil extract and breeding climate-friendlier cows, Mootral Ruminant could help slow down global warming.

To introduce its method to consumers, Mootral recently paired up with London ice cream shop Ruby Violet for Maxi-Mootral, 'a world's first climate-friendly ice cream.' On a summer day in August, 100 customers were treated to free scoops of Maxi-Mootral at Ruby Violet's King's Cross parlor. The flavor was made with milk from Brades Farm, whose cows are fed Mootral's pellets to cut their methane emissions and were part of the company's first commercial trial.

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Of consumers unwilling to go vegan, a mindful subset will pay a premium for beef and dairy that do less harm. By introducing their product through an ice cream flavor, Mootral makes the science of methane reduction tangible and relatable to the average person, potentially turning an afternoon treat into a conversation starter about food choices and combating climate change.

That said, the burden can't be placed on a small group of consumers willing and able to pay more for an eco-conscious product. Real impact can only be made by reducing methane for beef and dairy products across all price ranges. Which supermarket or food brand will be the first to declare that all of its yogurt or hamburgers produce 30% less planet-heating methane?

Related: Arla's new milk label Æ.KT gets literal about acting for climate and animal welfare

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom