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Scientists Just Turned Electricity Into Food To Fight World Hunger

Photo courtesy of the Lappeenranta University of Technology.

Apparently, we can now create food out of electricity.

A team of researchers from the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have teamed up to create a bioreactor that a batch of “single-cell proteins” that can later be converted into food and animal feed.

According to VTT Principal Scientist Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, the raw materials needed for this conversion (water, microbes, and carbon dioxide) to occur are available from the air, meaning that as this technology continues to develop, we could one day be sustaining ourselves using the air we breathe.

The bioreactors utilize electricity to develop the protein, which can then be either converted into fodder used for crop production or animal field, or further zapped into a mix of protein, carbs, fats, and nucleic acids that can be a potential food source for regions of the world that suffer from famines. It’s 10 times as efficient in energy usage as the natural process of photosynthesis, meaning that LUT and VTT’s protein-zap method uses energy better than plants do.

Unfortunately, the technology will take time to become commercialized and more feasible, with some estimates saying it could take at least a decade before this hunger-saving technology is possible. But when it is ready to be unleashed onto the world, we could potentially end every single famine on the planet. What a great step forward for the future of food.

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Barack Obama Just Gave 2017’s Most Important Speech On The Future Of Food

“Now is the time for us to act.”

The 2050 benchmark of us losing the capacity to produce food the way we currently do is growing closer and closer. And while it’s hard to enact policies to change the future of food, former United States President Barack Obama just delivered a powerful message on how we can all shape the future of food, and what that future needs to look like.

At the Seeds and Chips Conference in Milan, Italy, President Obama emphasized a dire need to begin acting to create a better future for food, declaring that “now is the time for us to act.”

His 90-minute speech and discussion with former White House food policy advisor Sam Kass highlighted the need to associate climate change with our food systems, since its impact is already beginning to be felt around the world.

For all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century, more dramatically perhaps than any other. No nation […] will be immune from the impacts of climate change.”

Obama also looks to technology and more traditional agricultural practices combining with science and entrepreneurship to shape the future of food in big ways. To him, the future of food is this:

“The path to a sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs, backed by public investment and private investment to deploy new innovations and climate-smart agriculture. Better seeds, better storage. Crops that grow with less water. Crops that grow in harsher climates. Mobile technologies that put more agriculture data […] into the hands of farmers so they know what to plant and where to plant, how to plant and how it will sell.”

That future ensures that we can produce the food needed to feed the billions on this planet along with those to come without trashing our environment beyond repair.

Along with that innovation, Obama called for the creation of a “food culture that introduces a demand for more healthier, more sustainable food,” since healthier food can lead to healthier lives and reductions in healthcare costs — a major issue of concern for the United States right now. 

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Can This Piece Of Fried Chicken Save The World? [The Katchup Podcast]

This past week, Memphis Meats broke the internet by introducing a piece of fried chicken made without killing a single animal. Their “clean” cultured meat that’s been grown in a lab is the company’s latest in a string of successes around lab-grown meat. Memphis Meats’ hope is to become a significant part of the world’s meat supply as livestock becomes unsustainable to raise in factory-farmed, mass-scale settings over the next couple of decades.

With that story buzzing around, one has to pop the question: is lab-grown meat truly necessary to save the world’s food supply?

That’s what was discussed in this week’s episode of The Katchup, Foodbeast’s podcast that covers the hottest stories in food from the past week. Foodbeast Editor-in-Chief Elie Ayrouth moderated a fiery discussion between UPROXX’s Steve Bramucci and The Ecology Center’s Founder and President Evan Marks on lab-grown meat and the future of food.

Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats.

While both Steve and Evan are supportive of a future of food that doesn’t rely on factory farming, they represent opposite stances about the usage of lab-grown meat to make that future possible, with Steve supporting and Evan against it. However, both clearly agree that there is a problem with our current food system.

Evan Marks claimed that in our current food system:

“The earth, farm labor, and us are typically the losers.”

Steve Bramucci agreed, and targeted his blame at humanity for getting us into this mess in the first place.

I don’t feel sorry for us if we have to use tech to solve everything we’ve fucked up.”

This led to some deep conversations and intense debates about our farm and livestock systems, sustainable agriculture, the relationship between technology and agriculture, and what the future of food should be.

How does that future look? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to answer that question for yourself.

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Tyson Foods’ CEO Thinks The Future Of Food Could Be Meatless

Excited to share our team’s vision of how Tyson Foods will shape the future of food. #GrowDeliverSustain

A post shared by Tom Hayes (@tomhayes_tysonfoods) on

Tyson Foods’ CEO Tom Hayes just made a bold proclamation that we should definitely all pay attention to.

In an interview with FOX Business, the head of one of the world’s largest chicken manufacturers claimed that plant-based protein is going to become a significant part of the future of food.

“If you take a look at the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) stats, protein consumption is growing around the world—and it continues to grow. It’s not just hot in the U.S.; it’s hot everywhere, people want protein, so whether it’s animal-based protein or plant-based protein, they have an appetite for it. Plant-based protein is growing almost, at this point, a little faster than animal-based, so I think the migration may continue in that direction.”

With our world’s food supply projected to run out by 2050 on its current trajectory, many alternatives to foods – including protein – have been heavily discussed and researched by the food industry. It’s led to the development of many key alternative protein products, such as utilizing bugs in items like pasta and turning plants into meaty products like Impossible Foods’ famous bleeding plant-based burger.

Hayes has apparently caught onto that trend, and is leading Tyson in a direction to be a part of the plant-based category of meats. The company has already acquired 5% of plant-based meat company Beyond Meat and has a $150 million venture capital fund to help startups who are attempting to make their own meat alternatives.

With the plant-based meat market value being well over $500 million and plant-based products to have a $5 billion market by 2020, things are only looking up for the plant-based meat industry. Especially now that one of the biggest names in meat production has thrown their support behind this movement.

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UC Berkeley is Giving $10K to Students That Develop Novel Plant-Based Meats and Seafood


Photo: Abby Dernburg

Whether you’re a fan of it or appalled by the idea, it’s become clear that plant-based meats are one of the key food trends for 2017 and for years to come. Highly innovative food tech companies have created plenty of plant-based meat products that are now beginning to mimic their real counterparts, like Impossible Foods’ plant-based bleeding burger, or New Wave Foods’ revolutionary vegan shrimp.

As the industry moves to developing new plant-based meats, they’re turning to a new, interested, and growing source of talent to make it possible: college students. Specifically, UC Berkeley students.

The Good Food Institute, a major advocate of plant-based and alternative meat products for the betterment of the world, has teamed up with UC Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) to develop a Challenge Lab course and a competition centered around the development of plant-based proteins.

The Challenge Lab course is entitled “Innovative and Sustainable Plant-Based Protein: How to Produce More and Better Plant-based Meat,” and lasts all semester. It’s designed for teams of students of any educational background to create the next wave of plant-based foods in a delicious, affordable, and sustainable capacity.

Third-year nutrition student Hailey Zhou, who is in the course, told Foodbeast that teams in class aim to “develop a product (line) and a business model to accelerate the growth and innovation of this market segment, and hopefully create some impactful product to consumer choices taking a different look at plant protein sourcing and the production process.”

Throughout the semester, the class meets in four hours of lecture and eight hours of group work each week to develop their plant-based concepts, leading up to a massive pitch competition in front of plant-based meat experts with a $5,000 cash prize.


Photo: VegNews

Additionally, a special competition course dedicated to the development of new plant-based seafood products will also be run by the same team of the Good Food Institute and SCET will begin March 10th. This “Innovation Collider” course specifically focuses on using proteins beyond pea or soy protein to develop new plant-based seafoods, and can be taken for a couple of semester credits.  Undergrad and graduate students are invited to apply to compete by March 1st, and are also eligible for another $5,000 cash prize.

Students in the course and competition are both educated on current meat analogs in the industry, but challenged to use innovative protein sources and raw materials that aren’t heavily used to develop the latest plant-based meats and seafood. Zhou’s team, for example, is exploring the potential of underused plant like microalgae, kelp, or ancient grains such as millet to develop their products. Zhou made it clear though that plant proteins weren’t the only source for their innovation:

“Not only can we contribute to a more balanced agriculture and cultivation through sourcing, we can also look into upcycling food/ag waste or by products, and look at processes from fermentation to extrusion to explore potential to unlock nutrients and revive the discarded food.”

These ideas and many more will be necessary to develop the solutions expected out of these courses, but the students are up to the challenge. They want to not just create the next plant-based burger, but have an idea on how to create everything from vegan “scallops” to vegan “chicken.”

It will definitely be interesting to see what amazing plant-based products come out of these Berkeley courses — and who comes away with the cash prizes.

Those prizewinners could be the next big CEOs or trendsetters in the future of plant-based meat — and of sustainable food.

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This ‘Clean Meat’ Company Wants YOU to Help It Save Meat For the Planet

You probably clicked on this article because you had no idea what is meant by the term “clean meat.” It’s something you should definitely get to know, because it is spreading and trying to go global right now.

Before we explain how that’s happening, let’s talk about what exactly clean meat is. It has nothing to do with how animals are raised, antibiotic usage in livestock, the physical contamination of meat by feces or pathogens, or any of the common issues from raising animals.

Clean meat doesn’t even come from butchering live stock. Simply put, it’s lab-grown meat.


Photo: Newsweek

By growing meat from stem cells in culture, companies like Memphis Meats are able to produce meat that doesn’t factor in the environmental, social, or labor costs of growing, raising, and slaughtering livestock – hence, the “clean” terminology that they use to describe their cultured meat.

The company has estimated that they can use 90 percent less water and land while producing 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions by raising cultured meat rather than actual livestock – making clean, cultured meat products much better for the environment and reducing the need to raise more livestock.

Environmentally, it’s become clear that the consumption of meat – especially at the levels that it’s consumed at in America – will have significant impacts and is not sustainable for the future of food. In that future where cattle and other animals are difficult to raise because the environmental supply is gone, companies like Memphis Meats aim to deliver meat to a world that isn’t able to raise it anymore.

Additionally, the company has been able to show that their meat isn’t just more environmentally-friendly – it’s also safer and healthier. Cultured meat means that less pathogens can get into the meat supply and contaminate it – leading to less food-borne illnesses.

Memphis Meats has spent a while researching to develop their meat, and revealed their first clean meat product – a meatball – to the world earlier this year. While it will take some time to scale up and have the meatballs ready to sell to the world, everyone was very excited to see the meatball’s success.


Photo: Memphis Meats

Now, Memphis Meats wants to get their products and vision for clean meat spread to the rest of the world. By slanging their meat globally, they can develop worldwide scales of beef or other meats without ever having to kill a single animal.

To reach this goal, Memphis Meats recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make this possible – and with a month left to go, they’re already almost halfway to their goal.

If this article has made you interested at all in clean meat, or has left you wanting to taste it, then head on over and help Memphis Meats out. What they’re doing is revolutionary, tasty, and could potentially save meat for the planet.


(UPDATE: Looks like Memphis Meats isn’t just making meatballs anymore – check out this new footage of a slice of cultured beef fajitas! The footage was just released by Techcrunch.)