Ultra-billionaire Bill Gates makes news every time he blows his nose.
Not really, but as the world’s No. 1 or No. 2 richest human (depending on who’s doing the guesstimating), he can make the media salivate just by thinking about reaching for his checkbook.
When you’re worth $66 billion, everything you do matters. The average guy, if he wants to blow even 1% of his annual income, he has to really think about it. That’s $500 or $600 bucks.
Gates, were he to “divert” 1% of his annual income—his income, not his net worth—to some business he’s interested in, would be handing over a cool $50 or $60 million.
That’s why, despite his utter lack of culinary credentials, when Gates pens a food review, it gets plastered all over social media. Why not? If you’re an entrepreneur, and he takes a liking to your new food product, you could be set for life.
In fact, Gates has invested undisclosed sums in several “innovative” food companies, including Hampton Creek Foods and Beyond Meat. I’ll give the latter bragging rights: They not only landed Gates (indirectly, through his stake in venture capital firm Khosla Ventures) and Twitter founder Biz Stone as investors, they’ve managed to convince some prominent alt-foodies, like The New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, into providing ringing endorsements.
“I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative, for example, and honestly couldn’t tell it from real chicken,” Gates wrote in a Mashable.com post. “Beyond Eggs [Hampton Creek’s pseudo-egg alternative] does away with the high cholesterol content of real eggs. Lyrical has drastically reduced fat in its non-dairy cheeses. Nu-Tek has found a way to make potassium chloride taste like salt with only a fraction of the sodium.”
Okay, Gates is savvy enough to know there’s a market for people who are convinced that a whole crop of modern-day health problems are due to those twin terrors of fat and cholesterol. They’re suckers for faux foods that substitute cheap sweeteners, modified starch and textured vegetable protein for the nutrients naturally found in foods like beef, pork, eggs and milk.
If it says “low-fat” on the label, plenty of consumers, fooled by false medical warnings about red meat and lured by the barely concealed advertising promise that low-fat can be eaten in high-volumes are gullible enough to stock up on all kinds of non-food products.