The New York Times calls it the $325,000 burger.
National Geographic calls it the petri-dish burger.
Impossible Foods calls their lab-grown “meat” the Impossible Burger.
On this very special episode of the OPP, I chat with Chris Davis, Director of Research and Development at Impossible Foods to discuss their lab-grown meat – the Impossible Burger and it’s impact (or lack thereof) on feeding the world, fixing the broken factory farming industry, and decreasing our massive food waste problem.
As the Impossible Foods website states: “The world loves meat. But relying on cows to make meat is land-hungry, water-thirsty, and pollution-heavy. That’s why we set out to do the impossible: make delicious meats that are good for people and the planet.”
It’s a great marketing message for the general public. It that all it is? Just an empty marketing message?
To the discerning Optimizer, or anyone who has given thought to the issue of feeding the world, there are gaps in the Impossible Foods mission (as you’ll hear).
I’m grateful for Rosie and Chris’s willingness to set this up and allow me to press them deeper on this conversation about the future of the world’s food supply.
It’s clear to me that I’m at a different point on the purist-pragmatist spectrum than Chris and Impossible Foods.
I’d like to think I’m not a naive idealist…you be your own judge.
A taste of what we uncovered:
- What’s actually IN the “burger”? (Just your standard genetically engineered soy protein, factory-farmed wheat and corn, and added sugars “so people will like the taste”)
- Are the plants used produced by the same government subsidized, industrial agricultural complex that we’re trying to change? (I found out the answer is…wait for it, YES!)
- Does it contain any of the healthy fats or proteins that we get from grass-fed animals like CLA, omega-3’s, and collagen? (No, but it is “cholesterol-free”…HAH, did we transport back in time to 1985?)
- Production of the impossible burger requires 1/20 of the land resources that a cow requires…what is being done with the other 19/20th of lands? (“Nothing, not our responsibility.”)
- Is this lab grown meat making a positive impact on the lives of food insecure people in impoverished nations? (No – it’s being sold at 33 hipster burger joints in LA and Austin for $14/burger)
Chris and I do agree on a few key points:
- We waste too much food. Globally, as much as 50% of edible food is wasted. See blog post for statistics and a great video from John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight.
- The factory farming model for animals is seriously flawed, inefficient and harmful to the environment.
- We need to have this conversation about course-correcting and exploring alternatives sooner rather than later.