By Susan Crowell / email@example.com
Fake meat is now a thing.
I’m not talking about Tofurky, that tofu-based vegetarian turkey replacement. I’m talking about cultured meat that is being produced in a laboratory through cell replication. Meat grown from animal cells in vats much like the equipment used in breweries.
I guess “fake” is the wrong word, since creators say it comes from animal cells and is still technically meat. Some call it “lab-produced meat; others, “cultured meat; still others, “clean meat.”
The startup Memphis Meats concocted a beef meatball last year and earlier this year debuted its chicken and duck.
In fact, there’s a venture capital fund, New Crop Capital, set up specifically to invest in “clean meat.” The fund’s cofounder Bruce Friedrich, who is also the CEO of the Good Food Institute, was recently interviewed by the student newspaper at Stanford University, and emphasized, “This is real meat, except it’s meat that’s produced in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way.” No bacterial contamination, no antibiotics, created with less energy and less land use.
Clean meat will also, he said, help us feed 9.7 billion people by 2050.
And all those reasons craft Memphis Meats’ mission, too. “We need to completely change the way meat gets to the plate,” said Memphis Meats cofounder and cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti. “We believe this to be one of the biggest technological leaps for humanity,” he added during a video of the chicken unveiling in March.
It’s a foodie world
We’re all foodies now, in a world where social media has accelerated an obsession with food choices. (C’mon, you know you’ve been at a meal when someone has snapped a photo of their plate of food.)
“Food became another avenue to expressing that you cared about making the world a better place,” restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer recently told Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. “The choice of food was a political choice.”
Outside of the lab, at Bauhaus’ Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen in Miami, Ryan Bauhaus is part chef, part chemist, part ‘plant butcher.’ He experiments with plants to create faux meats, using techniques like smoking and aging to achieve his desired tastes. You know, the taste of meat. Without the meat.
Some entrepreneurs and some consumers make these choices for health reasons, some for profit reasons. But for others, there is still an underlying animal activist reason for their business or their purchases. The brother-sister team behind the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis told the Associated Press they opened their shop as a platform for animal activism.
Lest you think the vegetable-based meats or the lab-produced meats are just fleeting fads, think again. They may seem far-fetched, but I’ve seen more articles and information on cultured meats in the past six months than any other food-based fad I’ve witnessed.
Farmers, meet your new competitors.
As for me, they may try to sell me clean meat, but all I really want is a juicy burger or steak. From the farm, not the flask. That’s my political choice.
(Next week: Silicon Valley’s interest in agriculture and the big bucks being invested.)