The Future of Fake Meat
While texturally appealing fake chicken alternatives haven't seemed to crop up just yet in the marketplace, researchers at the University of Mississippi believe they have discovered just the right mix of soy products and chemicals after many years of research. The compounds are able to mimic both the mild flavor of chicken as well as the the way it texturally breaks apart in the mouth. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?
While this development doesn't mean that products will be hitting the market anytime soon, this meat alternative has tremendous market potential. Eating just one pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV 40 miles1. Environmentalists and the conscientious consumer are already privy to the environmental benefits of eating less meat. Some other interesting statistics:
- The Live Earth Concerts Handbook says that "refusing meat is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint."
- According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads.
But is a soy compound the environmentally friendly answer to global warming?
... Versus Market Monopolization?
Just a few companies control the soy and corn markets in the U.S., and considering the amount of products derived from these two foods (everything from toothpaste to salad dressing to soda to cereal) it means that they play a role at the very base of our food supply. With one agricultural giant, Monsanto, genetically modifying 95% of soy grown (and 80% of corn!), would stepping in the direction of fake meats really be the best option for our food supply?
The technology for fake meat may alter the landscape of agriculture, quite literally, toward greater soy products and less meat and dairy farms. It seems there is no right answer in this debate, but it will be interesting to see what happens as food technology advances and what role, if any, nutrition plays into the equation.
Hope I at least got you thinking a little bit!