You call it “cell-cultured meat” and not “lab-grown meat” or “fake meat” or other names that sometimes come up.
The weirdest name I heard someone use was “motherless meat.” Gross. The name game can be a bizarre rabbit hole. Because of that, I stuck to a term that’s scientifically accurate and not aphoristic.
Were there any misconceptions you had about the industry going into it?
It turned out to be a more dramatic story than I anticipated. At one point, through pure happenstance, I watched firsthand the dramatic collapse of one startup’s attempt to serve up cell-cultured meat in the Netherlands. That was the moment I really understood that there’s an edible space race going on among cultured meat companies, and the winner will get the first shot at capturing public imagination — and tons of investment.
Who are the key players?
In the short term, in the U.S. folks in business are going to gravitate toward Memphis Meats, which has a regulatory edge; JUST, an already-functioning food company; and Finless Foods, which is ahead of the curve in seafood. Mosa Meat in the Netherlands has a great shot at getting E.U. approval first. In the long term, though, I’m most drawn to what’s happening in Israel, at Aleph Farms and Future Meat Technologies.
What’s the strangest thing you ate during your reporting?
The first thing I was served was foie gras. On its surface that seemed pretty ho-hum, but then I realized it was basically just cultured meat paste that’d been scraped out of a bioreactor. It was fine, but mentally took a minute to process.
What do you hope readers take away from the book?
There’s enough money and influence behind cell-cultured meat that, even if it inspires squeamishness, it simply can’t be ignored. There are a ton of upsides, especially in light of how the coronavirus has pummeled the U.S. meat industry. It may be the most optimistic and realistic shot we’ve got at addressing animal agriculture’s massive environmental footprint.
The speed read
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