The future of food: from jellyfish salad to lab-grown meat


What do tomorrow’s dinners look like, and how will you adjust? Our special feature sheds light on a world of algae, cowless beef, insect lollies and even an mouthwatering recipe for jellyfish salad…

Lets look at some of the adjusted, alternative, and entirely new foods which could become the mainstays of tomorrow’s mealtimes.

Overcome with the ills of animal production, Shir Friedman has a vision. She wants to grow chicken breasts in the lab. “It is very similar to what researchers are doing to culture organs for transplants,” says the co-founder of Israeli-based charity, Modern Agricultural Foundation. Except they would be for human consumption. In January it gave a grant to a Tel Aviv University biomedical engineer for a feasibility study of the proposition. Results expected at the end of this year will be used to plan the organisation’s next steps. If successful, it would be the most ambitious project yet on the new food frontier of cultured animal products, where animal cells will eventually be grown in vats to make meat. “Production will look like a brewery,” says Sarah Sclarsic, business director at Modern Meadow, a US startup working to make meat products from cultured cow muscle cells.

But getting costs down to a level competitive with the animal version is daunting. Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, unveiled the world’s first cultured beef burger made from cow stem cells in 2013. It cost £200,000 to make, but even if it were scaled up it would still be £15 per kilo for hamburger meat. There may also be regulatory hurdles. “We are hoping the process would be fairly straightforward but that remains to seen,” says Sclarsic. 

Meanwhile, technology is also rising to the challenge of producing realistic meat analogues from plants. San Francisco startup Impossible Foods meanwhile says it has a new way to create a meat taste from plant proteins by concentrating a heme protein – which gives red meat its colour – that is naturally found in plants in small quantities. It plans to tempt meat lovers with its plant-based hamburger patties in the second half of next year The product “looks, cooks, smells and tastes like ground beef”, says Patrick Brown, company co-founder and a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University. Competition in the meat stakes, it seems, is coming from everywhere.  (More in Next Issue)

The Guardian 

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