Meatless Meat

There’s a rising tide of on the shore of the food scene called “fake meat”.  According to the primary sources of information—which, so far, originates from the manufacturers (and the news media, of course) it sounds very positive—and hip. But I question the credibility of those information sources.

Fake meat is coming from two directions. The only one being very widely marketed at this point is plant based, and is derived from field pea proteins, canola, and in some versions, soy. The two leaders in the industry are Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, with recent public sentiment and media attention providing fuel in the two companies struggle for market monopoly.

The other fake meat is lab cultured, and is derived from live animal cells that are cultured and grown in laboratories to resemble ground meat, steaks, and roasts. Try as I might, I find it difficult to suppress the “Yuck!” wanting to rise from within. As of now, between 20 some manufacturers worldwide, the price per pound for lab-cultured meat is way out of the ballpark at about $50.00/lb.

Twenty five years ago modern science learned to extract and insert genes from food and feed products and marketed the products before having figured out how to tame the pollen that drifts in the wind and infects non-GMO crops for miles around, as well as disturbs the human gut, essentially drawing an F- in the vast experiment. Will we repeat the mistake and allow it to grow a trustworthy “meat” product based—again—on scientific evidence of what humans think other humans should eat. Maybe I’m being paranoid and anti-progress, but I am very skeptical.

Why alternative meat? In my opinion, any consumer demand for alternative so-called meat is a direct outgrowth of the atrocities that take place in indutrial real meat production such as beef feedlots, chicken “factories” (i.e. status quo chicken production to the tune of tens of thousands of birds confined to a single building). The manufacturers and marketers of meatless “meat” (I say it shouldn’t be called “meat” because it really isn’t) leverage the animal welfare issue as well as play on consumer emotion about acceptability or morality of consuming real meat due to the cruel production models implemented by status quo agriculture. However, what if the meats we eat were raised ethically and morally? What if the slaughter process were approached with utmost respect for the sacrifice of the animal and meticulous attention was paid to minimalize stress upon it? The truth remains, ethically raised meat raised with due respect for the creature is still the most nutritious food found anywhere. When animals are raised outdoors in their natural habitat, treated with care, and well stewarded in the landscape, the end result is a product we as consumers can feel good about, as well as feel good on. And that’s the View from the Country.