I’m all for looking for better ways of doing things. Even with all the shortcomings, technology has improved the speed at which we can communicate with each other. Homing pigeons and the pony express were replaced by the U.S. Postal Service and delivery couriers for when it absolutely positively has to get there overnight. Now, computer technology has brought “instantaneous” communication to our finger tips with email, texting, Twitter, Facebook, etc., so we don’t have to peel off stamps or risk a paper cut on the tongue by having to lick an envelope and then wait days for a response.
Technology has also made our food better and safer, with equipment to enable us to keep fresh foods that way longer, as well as being able to detect when your food may not be so safe to eat.
I’m mixed on how I feel when technology attempts to actually “make” our food. Our non-meat eating “friends” have often attempted to create meat substitutes. I remember the school-yard joke was that we had to choke down soy burgers in the school lunchroom. Not sure if those burgers really did come from a field rather than a processing plant, but I know the burgers were not real palatable. But then we thought that of all school meals, as do the youth of today.
Last week, it was announced that Memphis Meats, a San Francisco-based start-up is making real animal beef, chicken and duck from single cells. This new twist on the meat industry has been dubbed “clean” or “lab-cultured” meat, using self-reproducing muscle stem cells to make the meat without slaughtering a single animal. Memphis Meats has some heavyweights in its corner, such as billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as Cargill.
Now this one is intriguing. Taking animal cells and “creating” meat, in a laboratory; from a petri dish to your dinner plate.
With the world’s population growing at an alarming rate, we will indeed have to figure out a way to feed all of these people. A common mantra against raising livestock is the negative environmental impact the industry has, and that the resources to feed livestock to feed the world could actually go straight to feeding the world. The anti-animal agriculture crowd wants to cut out the middleman, or the middle cow, or middle pig, if you will.
As for that negative environmental impact, today’s pork producers are better than ever, producing a pound of pork while using 78% less land, 41% less water and having reduced their carbon footprint by 35% as compared to pork producers from 50 years ago, according to the National Pork Board. And they will only get better with improved genetics, improved animal care and improved herd health.
I’m sure the non-meat-eating crowd will find something wrong with the Memphis Meats’ product, because it is in a sense still animal protein. They don’t want animals being used for food regardless if it’s raised in a barn, feedlot or a laboratory.
Though I still prefer my meat to come attached to, or be pared from, a bone, I’d be willing to give Memphis Meats a shot.
One product I would need a little more coaxing to get behind is something called the Impossible Burger. This name is appropriate, because to me it is impossible because this “burger” is not made of meat. They claim to have mastered a way to recreate every aspect of the perfect burger — the sights, sounds, aromas, textures and flavors —all without the cow. That’s right; these will really have Clara Peller yelling from the grave, “Where’s the Beef?”
Again, they tout the alleged environmental degradation the livestock industry is doing to our world, in the sake of selling their “burgers.” I’m not buying it.
It’s bad enough that we have to explain to our children that there’s no ham in a hamburger, but try explaining that there may be no meat in that burger.
As long as I’m on a roll of fake foods infiltrating our grocery stores, I’ve had it up to here (wave your hand way over your head) with beverages that are labeled as “milk” even though they did not come from a cow, goat, sheep or even a pig for that matter.
Earlier this week the National Milk Producers Federation urged the Food and Drug Administration to reject a petition filed by a vegan organization that would allow plant-based beverages to use dairy industry terms, like milk.
The NMPF argues that the petition filed by the Good Food Institute would “undermine federal standards of identity for food and sanction existing misleading marketing tactics of imitation dairy products.”
“GFI’s petition flies in the face of established law and common sense,” says NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Nothing has happened in the last 20 years that makes it OK to combine plant or nut powders with water, sugar, emulsifiers, stabilizers and other chemicals, and call it ‘milk.’ This request is wrong on its merits and is designed to further mislead consumers.”
I agree with Mulhern. I’ve never understood the labeling of a beverage as “milk” if it is plant-based. Now, I realize that lactose-intolerant people cannot consume dairy products, so, by all means, drink all the soy, almond, cashew, pistachio beverage to your gullet’s content. Just don’t call it “milk.”
It cannot be “milk” if it does not come from an udder, just as it can’t be a burger if it doesn’t come from an animal.