The lab slab

Despite all the current propaganda for veganism in the lamestream media, the average American ate a record-breaking “222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018”. That’s according to haulage trade journal FreightWaves, in a brief but well-grounded op-ed on the future of lab-grown meat and its implications.

“If industries could produce readily consumable [lab-]meat, it would gradually lead to them setting up centers close to cities that consume it in large quantities – leading to a drastic reduction in the miles hauled. Also since lab-grown meat would have next-to-nothing wastage, the load being hauled would also be considerably lesser in the future. This could mean that over the next decade, the freight industry could have a face-off against two adversaries – the rise of autonomous vehicles, and the scope of lab-grown meat.”

Our stores already have tasty Quorn products made from mushroom mycelium and flavouring, and I guess some old hippies still eat its ikky predecessor Tofu. ‘Formed pseudo-fish’ is already in the stores, in terms of what appear (in the bag) to be exotic and succulent giant prawl-tails, at amazingly low prices. But which turn out, on close inspection, to be a formed mix of pulped fish-meat offcuts from Dubiouslandia with some tiger-stripes of cumin colouring sprayed across them.

But lab-grown meat is still some way off, and according to the genuine market reports is perhaps coming to regular stores circa 2022. Look for a carefully-crafted negative publicity campaign from the meat and butcher industry, around 2021. Although ‘clean meat’ leftist vegan hysteria may beat them to it, in terms of turning the public off the idea by making it a ‘political choice’ and thus triggering a backlash.

As a consequence I suspect that lab-meat will initially be pitched more like Quorn, as a premium value-added and heavily-packaged product which has its own chiller alongside the Quorn, the gluten-free items and similar ‘food-fad of the week’ chillers. I don’t see lab-meat suddenly being ‘just as good as meat’, and replacing wholesale the shrink-wrapped slabs and cuts of meat that fill today’s meat chillers and butcher counters. Unless… it’s 50% cheaper, in which case all bets are off. But I’d suspect that it will be just too tempting for stores to keep price-parity with current meat, and thus take a huge profit.

Restaurants may be a different case, and there may well be success with a chain of lab-grown burger-bars which let vegetarians and fake-burger munchers mingle without angst. Perhaps pitched around an ‘inter-generational family parties’ segment of the market, where you want oldsters mixing with millennials.


New book: Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

From a book review “Listening to jellyfish”, in the latest edition of The Atlantic, debunking the alarmist eco-narrative that “jellyfish are taking over the dying oceans”…

Do jellyfish deserve their reputation as an oceanic menace? Should we view blooms with anticipatory dread? In her memoir, Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone, Juli Berwald embarks on a mission that leads her to challenge the way blooms are popularly characterized.

We see many more jellyfish, Berwald points out, not simply because their numbers are greater but because our population is. The proliferation of coastal and subsurface infrastructure for resource extraction, maritime trade, and power generation has provided ample hardscape for jellyfish-polyp nurseries to graft onto. Human industry is in more frequent and sustained contact with many types of sea life.

There is no global jellyfish ecophagy [‘eating of entire ecosystems’ by vast jellyfish blooms]. The real bloom, Berwald argues, is in jellyfish science, where the interplay of jellyfish and their ecosystems is only now beginning to be pieced together.

Are their numbers increasing, or are contemporary scientists now capable of observing profusions that once went under the radar? Jellyfish blooms may occur at intervals that pre-date their surveillance — spreading, say, in 20-year cycles. What looks to us like an aberrance could, viewed in a longer time frame, prove natural.