Sunday, December 11, 2016 by D. Samuelson
Instead of focusing on stopping the overuse of animal antibiotics, or the mistreatment of animals squeezed into filthy conditions and piles of fecal matter in an animal feeding operation (CAFO), the Silicon Valley technocrats would rather have you not eat meat at all. It’s just too carbon intensive and not good for the environment, they say. So they’re raising and investing hundreds of millions of dollars to rethink food, according to the Financial Times. The money is on creating something that tastes like meat, alternative proteins without meat or putting a new tech twist on meat as food.
One Los Angeles start up – The Soylent Company – claims their food is “intelligently designed, while offering affordable, complete nutrition.” FT.com describes it as “tasteless goop.” Soylent had some difficulties at first. Their bars and their powders were taken off the market after two months when consumers had episodes of “violent vomiting” after consumption. Testing found no toxins, pathogens or outside contaminations, but an ingredient derived from algae could have turned people’s stomach. But perhaps it was more than that. When you read the Soylent.com website, they are quite proud to use GMOs in all their concoctions. The defining ingredient in Soylent’s product line is GMO soy. Glyphosate for lunch, anyone?
Ambronite is another tech foodie company offering a “drinkable superfood” to be used for meal replacements. There haven’t been any incidents of turned stomachs, like their competitor Soylent. Perhaps that’s because Ambronite is organic and Non-GMO. Financial Times points out that Ambronite raised $600,000 when starting up, compared to Soylent’s $20 million.
Impossible Foods is the moniker of the tech food startup that has a vision to make plants taste like meat. After five years and many reformulations, the companies plant based burgers are finally being offered in upscale restaurants. Founder Pat Brown believes that the cows are a “mature technology,” and, unlike cows, Impossible Foods has the advantage of being able to improve “every aspect of [meatless meat.]”
San Francisco based Memphis Meats uses another technology for meat making. This tech foodie business grows their meat in a lab, “cultivating them from real animal cells.” Memphis Meats call themselves cell farmers, seeking cells that have the capacity to reproduce, and then using those for breeding. Eventually, says Uma Valeti, the co-founder and current Memphis Meat chief executive, “[I hope] to remove animals from the equation altogether.”