In the 1960's, mercurial baseball player Richie Allen said about artificial grass, "if a cow can't eat it, I don't want to play on it".
Fast forward to today and Allen's comment might be "if a cow didn't make it, I don't want to eat it".
I'm referring to Impossible Foods, a startup which makes meat and cheese out of biomass. They're one of the food startups covered in the The Financial Times article Food 2.0: the future of what we eat.
Key quote on how Impossible Foods makes meat:
“We are not trying to make a meat alternative,” says Pat Brown, founder and chief executive of Impossible Foods. “We are making meat a better way.” ... That involves transforming “cheap, abundant biomass” into meat in the same way that a cow does – only without the cow.
This makes perfectly good sense.
We've traditionally used cows as our technology for converting plants into meat. Impossible Foods is replicating this process in a lab, eliminating the need for cows.
Not only is this potentially cheaper, but much better for the environment. Raising cows requires a lot of energy and water. Lab made meat would greatly reduce the use of both of these as well as eliminating the need for land for grazing.
Bugs are another potential food of the future. Canada's Next Millennium Farms is producing flour made out of crickets.
Key quote on the advantages of bug flour from The Verge's article I ate crickets because they're the future of food:
It’s chock-full of protein, has more iron than spinach, as much calcium as milk, all the amino acids, tons of omega 3, and tons of B12," he says. "So not only does it taste good, it’s also unbelievably healthy.
The U.N. agrees that it makes sense to use bugs as food. According to NPR's Maybe it's time to sway burgers for bugs, says the U.N., bugs are already regularly on the diet in many parts of the world. Key quote:
2 billion people worldwide already enjoy insects with gusto — in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia.
Like making meat in a lab, using bugs for food would also be environmentally friendlier than current food production methods.
And for those of you who think eating is simply too time consuming and too much effort, Soylent sells a gooey drink that provides all the nutrients without the hassle of producing, preparing and eating a traditional meal.
The name is play on the 1970's movie Soylent Green, which was about a future world where food was scarce so an evil corporation creates a protein powder - called Soylent Green - made out of dead humans.
From a marketing perspective I'm not sure linking your food product to dead humans is such a great move. But they got a lot of press when they launched.
Given the central role food plays and its massive environmental impact, it's no surprise there's lot of innovation occurring in this industry. We cover much of this in our Small Farms category.
**Update** An alert reader pointed me to Fast Company's Inside the Edible Insect Industrial Complex, which covers the growing insect food industry.