The Meat Update
There is a lot of things going on with meat these days. Previously I wrote about meatless Mondays to help reduce the greenhouse effect. Now, I have some other ideas and thoughts about different meats. 80% of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce livestock. The industry produces more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry does. One biochemist from Stanford decided to try something new and he created a product that is vegan made with a plant-based meat substitute called HEME. HEME is an iron-rich component of an oxygen-carrying molecule which is also present in blood, and this replicates the delicious characteristics of beef. His company, Impossible Foods, is taking off. Last year his hamburger substitute was available in 40 locations in the United States; now it is available at over 3,000 worldwide locations.
Another cutting-edge invention is lab/petri dish-grown meats. There are many companies trying to create a market for lab-grown meat including fish, chicken and beef and many of them are trying to hit the shelves in the supermarket by the end of 2018. I don’t believe that’s going to happen because there are still a lot of questions and regulations that need to be created. There is no current information about the vitamins and nutrients that this meat would have.
As I mentioned in the sustainable farming article, this measure will be very good for the planet by avoiding the greenhouse gases and you can’t control what products are being produced, you have to produce the whole animal. Negative to this is the amount of energy that will be required to produce these meats. In this scenario you would be able to just grow chicken breast instead of a whole chicken and of course there’s no waste that comes from this product. It will also open up land that is currently used for farming.
There is some hesitation among consumers: In studies two out of three people were willing to try lab-grown meat but only one out of three said that they would eat it regularly and that also depends on the price point that it comes out at.
The question now is how do you make meat in a lab. First, a tiny amount of muscle tissue is taken from the animal and then the cells are isolated from the tissue sample. The cells are then put in a liquid that gives the nutrients they need to grow and in 7 to 8 weeks you can discern the muscle. The cells are fused together into a strand and they continue growing for three more weeks. After the meat has fully grown it takes about 10,000 strands to make a 3-ounce hamburger.
The next meat to talk about is veal, which is a baby cow. It usually has to be around six months old and weigh 500 pounds before they go to the market. In the 1960s Americans were eating four pounds of veal per person and then the boycott came due to the inhumane treatment of the calves. Last year on average 1/5 of a pound of veal was consumed per person but they are marketing it as a more humane treatment of veal or five times older and twice the market weight of calves from 30 years ago. Calves are more nutritious now than they were 30 years ago due to the larger diet and exercise that they now get. They also have a deeper flavor being raised in a mix of milk formula in grain.
The last meat I’m going to talk about is pork. Pork production can be traced back to 5,000 BCE and is very popular in parts of Asia. Exports are one of the items that is now in the news due to the tariffs added by China. Pork is the number one consumed meat in the Asian Peninsula. Consumption in China is over 2 1/2 times the consumption in the European Union and five times as much as the pork consumption in the United States. Pork can be eaten both freshly cooked and preserved, as curing the meat extends the shelf life.
If you’ve lived in Vegas for any length of time you know that there was a big farm in the center of North Las Vegas that just recently moved up to Apex. The farm was there before any houses were built but the neighbors complained about the smell from the farm. This is a common problem. Pennsylvania and Virginia have the same problem with their pig farms and they’re one of the biggest producers of pork products. A good thing about having the pig farm in our community is the fact that they take food waste from seven casinos on the Strip and cook it and feed it to the pigs which saves a lot of space in the Apex landfill, which is the largest landfill in the country.