Free Range Free Chat

YUM. Fake Meat. Sustainable Meat. Our Holiday Feasts just got weirder. . . .

Happy Monday all, and welcome to Free Range, today’s Free Chat with an environmental bent. Here we talk about any and all going on with the ground above and below us, the people beside us, the animals and plants among us.

In other words, no topics and all topics at the same time; today I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and what to have; soon we’ll be at the the point of eating turkey that was never a bird, beef that was never a cow and lobster that never saw an ocean. Great for climate change? Yes, but this will take some getting used to. . . .

Tech grown turkey? Beef, lamb and chicken? The idea is to remove animals from meat production and it’s done in a lab. Why? Reducing the impact of meat farming on the planet and growing only the parts of an animal we eat.

While traditional agriculture accounts for 14.5 to 16.5 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions globally, cellular agriculture’s carbon footprint is far lower as it does not rely on feeding, maintaining, transporting, slaughtering, and processing billions of animals every year. 

The fast-expanding array of meat mimics — plant-based, cultured, and fungi-based — are quickly evolving as producers push to match the nutrition, taste, look, feel, smell, and cost of conventional meat.
(Eddie Guy / For the Times)

Worldwide demand for protein is growing rapidly, with meat sales at an all-time high, Tomazoni says, citing a United Nations forecast that predicts global demand for all proteins will increase 70% by 2050 as economies improve across Asia and Africa.

“Cutting emissions from food production is crucial to limiting climate change, and alternative proteins are the sleeper solution to creating the rapid change we need to meet this moment. Alternative proteins are the one food-based climate solution that scales and, with government support, can decarbonize global food production,” GFI Founder and President Bruce Friedrich said in a statement.

Beyond Meat’s beyond sausage bratwurst in a bun.
(Beyond Meat)

“Cultivated-meat production is emerging as an alternative source of sustainable protein to help address nutrition and food safety for consumer choices. Kaplan, who is a Distinguished Professor at Tufts and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and his team have led some of the early work in the field.

“He says that this new industry could provide nutritious and safe foods while reducing environmental impact and resource usage—with a target of significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use than traditional meat production.

Tacos with alternative protein from Air Protein.
(Air Protein)

The fast-expanding array of meat mimics — plant-based, cultured and fungi-based — are quickly evolving as producers push to match the nutrition, taste, look, feel, smell and cost of conventional meat. In no time, consumers will have “alternatives that will be flat-out identical products to those from animals,” says Eric Toone, technical advisor to Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund investing in carbon reduction technologies, including alt-proteins.

Prime Roots’ koji hickory bacon.
(Prime Roots)

3D Printing of Meat. . . .

Scientists in Japan successfully 3-D printed a cut of Wagyu beef that looks just like the real thing. The team at Osaka University in Japan used three dimenstional bioprinting to replicate the cut’s specific arrangement of muscle, fat and blood vessels. They hope lab-grown meats could provide a more sustainable—and delicious—alternative to traditionally-raised beef.

Scientists recreated the famous beef, which is prized for its fat marbling, or sashi. H. Alexander Talbot via Wikimedia Commons under [CC BY 2.0]

Alternative sources of plant based “meat”. . . . .

  • Algae: combining their carbon-negative profile with sustainable sourcing, algae have the potential to change the food system for the better while being good for your health, thanks to their essential fatty acids and high vitamin and antioxidants content. Although may not appeal to the most squeamish consumers, algae actually possess a meat-like, umami flavour that makes them an ideal replacement for meat. They can also be dried and minced to obtain healthy salt-like condiments and dressings.
  • Cacti: many varieties of cacti are edible and contain high amounts of vitamins C and E, carotenoids, fibre and amino acids. Cacti stems have long been part of the Mexican culinary tradition and are now starting to enter the international market through new, delicious concepts.
  • Uncommon grains: if you don’t feel like revolutionizing your diet with unusual ingredients, you can opt for a more gradual change by diversifying your sources of carbohydrates. Despite the existence of 21 different families of grains, at the moment rice, wheat and maize make up more than 50% of global cereal consumption. Opting for diverse grain varieties (like amaranth, fonio or buckwheat) will not only provide you with more nutritional value, but also help improve soil health and preserve biodiversity.

WeForum and LA Times and Beef Magazine and Smithsonian Magazine

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