Will 2019 be the year of clean meat?
For the laymen, “clean meat” is a term used to indicate real meat produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells, without the need to slaughter any animal.
The end of animal farming, or even its substantial reduction, would bring huge benefits to the planet, our health, and of course the lives of the 56 billion animals slaughtered annually for meat consumption.
Obviously, end-of-the-year predictions are always a game as much as a rational analysis, but that’s why we like them.
1) Kinder World: The biggest news
Paul Shapiro: Sales. There will likely be actual sales of clean meat by the end of 2019.
Actually, it might even happen before the end of 2018. There’s a company called Just that’s pretty confident it will sell at least clean meat samples by the end of the current year. Even if it will be just a symbolic, one-time event, it will still be important in that it shows there’s a government willing to authorize an actual sale today.
That may not be the “biggest” news, but I do think it’s important news.
2) The country where clean meat will be sold first
If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere in Asia. However, I have to say that the US government has been impressively proactive in this field so far, with the USDA and FDA laying out an early framework for the regulation of cultured meat. I don’t think that there are other countries in the world whose governmental agencies have done the same.
The FDA and the USDA are doing exemplary work so far to position the United States at the forefront of this cellular agriculture revolution.
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Israel further expand its leadership in clean meat. Between the meat industry’s investment in SuperMeat and the steak just produced by Aleph Farms, Israel really is in some ways a Mecca for the cultured meat world.
3) The biggest obstacle
Regulations that would be designed to protect incumbent livestock industries by stifling this type of agricultural innovation could potentially kill this industry before it’s even born.
There’s also the risk that the clean meat industry will start flourishing in certain countries while in others there will be just too many legal restrictions for companies to operate effectively.
4) Unexpected new players in the field
There are about two dozens companies trying to produce clean animal products at the moment and several of them have formed in 2018. Incumbents like Memphis Meats are doing very impressive work, and I don’t doubt that even more new, exciting companies will join the fray and form in 2019. Not all will survive. In fact, one of those founded in 2018 has already been put on ice.
But this promising field will continue to get bigger. And it will focus on a greater variety of products. For example, one of the companies I’m particularly excited about, Mission Barns, was founded in 2018 to focus just on producing clean fat, which I tried earlier in the year and loved.
5) Number of people that will have eaten clean meat by the end of 2019 (PS. I hope to be one of them)
I’d say that at the moment perhaps around 500-1000 people tried clean meat. With the actual figure being probably closer to the 500 mark, but it’s hard to tell. New Age Meats, for example, did a tasting of its (apparently delicious) sausage for 40 people this year, so the events where lay people get to try it are getting bigger.
By the end of 2019, and I’m gonna be really optimistic, I hope that maybe around 3,000 people will have sampled clean meat.
6) The type of clean meat that will be more successful
There will be a lot of focus on poultry and fish, especially fish, actually. If you look at the cost of producing clean fish with cellular agriculture - or cellular aquaculture as I should say - you see that it’s lower than the cost of producing, let’s say, clean beef.
One reason for this is that fish are cold-blooded animals. Therefore, you don’t need to keep your culture at as high a temperature like you have to do with mammals.
Moreover, some kind of fish, like the bluefin tuna, are already extremely expensive so the price tag of their clean alternatives might be quite competitive. Between Finless Foods, Wild Type, and Blue Nalu - all impressive companies that have raised millions each - there’s already a race to bring the first cultured fish to market.
7) Your own role in the clean meat movement
I’ll keep working as an advocate for this field, as an author, and an entrepreneur. I’m particularly enthusiastic about The Better Meat Co., the b2b company that I co-founded in 2018 that’s already working with clean meat start-ups. I’ll continue writing about the latest developments in this field, and will be touring in some other countries to promote my book Clean Meat in Asia and Europe as those new editions are released.
Speaking of which, over the past couple of years, there has been a big debate in the clean meat movement on how to actually call it. Eventually, the Good Food Institute concluded that “clean meat” is the expression that elicits the most positive response in potential buyers.
However, the expression doesn’t translate equally well in all languages. For example, I’m Italian and I’m pretty sure we’re never going to call it “carne pulita”. I was wondering how this aspect impacted the translation of your book’s title in different languages.
Yes, “clean meat” doesn’t work equally well in all languages, which is why in some countries the title of the book will be Cultured Meat (like in the Netherlands).
But, even in the United States, the matter isn’t settled. I’ve written a little about this but “clean meat” does seem both accurate and performs the best with consumers.
That said, there may be good reason to consider other options, and I’m certainly open to them. I now use “cultured meat” pretty often too. Some are using “cell-based meat.” “Clean meat” was never intended to be a regulatory term, of course, just as clean energy isn’t a legal term, either.
But I think the decision of what term advocates for the industry should use ought to be based on evidence of what’s both accurate and performs well with consumers. I’m not wedded to any particular term, and look forward to the research that the Good Food Institute and Mattson are doing on this important topic.
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In this time of religious tensions, a small piece of good news can go a long way in restoring your faith in humanity. This positive bit, for example, comes all the way from the United States. Northeast Ohio, to be precise.
👉 In Parma, a small city close to Cleveland, a group of Muslim doctors decided to convert some of the local mosque's spare rooms into a free health clinic where everybody is welcomed, no matter if uninsured or not Muslim.
As reported by local media outlet News5 Cleveland, The Cleveland Ibn Sina Clinic opened just a few weekends ago but more than 30 patients have already received treatment.
"We have the ability, we have the potential, we have the resources,” said Dr. Mansoor Ahmed, who is one of the 20 doctors that committed to volunteering their expertise. "Giving a little bit of your time, I think, goes a long way in making a difference in people's lives," he added.
“A lot of the doctors came here from foreign countries outside the United States looking for better opportunities. Now that they are established, some of them are practicing with hospitals, some of them have their own practice, now they want to come together and give back to the community,” commented Hala Sanyurah, who is the clinic's Communication Director.
The clinic — that will not just focus on primary health issues but also on more specific diseases like asthma, diabetes, and mental illness — is the first free medical facility in the region.
Credit header image: Stu Spivack
The mere mention of the term “polar vortex” elicits thoughts of bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills. Most people are aware that the frigid air in the Northern Hemisphere is coming directly from the Arctic region, yet they don’t know why polar vortexes happen.
Not surprisingly, this has led to some rather heated debate. One side of the argument claims that the polar vortex is a result of climate change and human activity. The other side suggests this is a natural phenomenon that proves global warming is false and that humans are not involved in altering our climate.
The truth is the former is correct. But trying to convince someone to accept this reality might be a difficult challenge. Thankfully, when it comes to the cause of the polar vortex, there is a relatively easy — and for some, relatable — explanation. Quite simply, the polar vortex gets drunk.
My research expertise is in microbiology, immunology and chemical mechanisms of molecular interaction (think antibiotics).
As a science communicator, one of my greatest hurdles is defining the intricacies of research into language with which people can understand. This means going deep into the literature and finding the mechanism behind the result. It also means having a deep level of knowledge in a variety of different science branches.
In some cases, the information can be difficult to convey to a wider audience. But when it comes to the polar vortex, it’s not difficult at all.
A close examination of the chemistry associated with the onset of these cold snaps reveals a near-perfect resemblance to a chemical shift our bodies encounter during alcohol consumption. The results reveal that both humans and the planet are similarly susceptible to unexpected and unwanted movements.
Most of us can recognize when someone has had too much to drink. Their speech is slurred and they have troubles with their balance. This latter symptom is why the walk-and-turn sobriety test is effective — an inebriated person has trouble moving in a straight line.
Maintaining posture and balance is a complicated neurological process. Research has revealed that one molecule, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), is necessary for us to achieve this goal. Our brains use this neurotransmitter to help control the signals to our muscles, particularly when we feel the effects of gravity or being pushed by another person.
When we drink alcohol, GABA helps us preserve our balance and posture. But once we end up losing the necessary levels of GABA needed to keep us upright, we sway, stagger and stumble. Only when we’ve sobered up and increased our GABA levels are we able to regain our balance.
A similar process occurs in the Arctic.
The polar vortex, officially known as the stratospheric polar vortex (SPV), is a stable air mass that tends to stay put when it’s cold sober. In the same way we feel an internal heat during alcohol consumption, the region can warm up with an infiltration of air from the south, better known as a sudden stratospheric warming. When this happens, the steadiness of the vortex is challenged.
Much like our brains have GABA to maintain stability, the SPV also has a chemical that helps to maintain stability. It’s ozone.
When levels remain high, the vortex stays in place. But should the levels drop, then the vortex starts to sway, stagger and then stumble southward, a process known as outward eddy transport. Depending on how low the ozone levels drop, the vortex can stretch well into the southern United States and Europe. Eventually, the SPV sobers up, the ozone levels recover, and the air mass stays up north. But this recovery can be slow and leave those affected freezing for weeks instead of days.
As to what causes the ozone loss, it’s a reaction with a variety of chemicals in the air. Researchers can observe the process in real time and have found that the offenders are not alcoholic in nature but happen to be compounds that contain nitrogen and chlorine. The Earth produces these chemicals in the form of volcanic output and forest fire emissions, and this can lead to a drunk polar region.
Thanks to real-time examinations of polar vortex movements over the last 20 years, we can easily finger the culprit: industrial air pollution. These commercial activities produce more than enough of the nitrogen and chlorine chemicals to reduce ozone levels and cause those drunken staggers. The data clearly shows that the blame for the rise in those cold blasts falls squarely on us.
As this winter’s supply of polar vortex events comes to an end, so should the debate over whether the polar vortex is real — it is — and whether these movements are due to human activity — they are. Until we find ways to reduce our dependence on ozone-removing chemicals, all we can do is hope for the best and brace for the worst.
Here at Kinder, we're often busy thinking about the future of philanthropy and how charitable organizations will look like 100 years from now.
However, every now and then, it's also helpful to look back at history and realize that there's a handful of charities that have been around for so long that there's certainly something we can learn from them.
One of them is the Hospital of St. Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester England, that actually prides itself to be the UK's oldest charitable institution.
Founded around the year 1132, the almshouse was initiated by Bishop Henry of Blois to support thirteen poor men who were unable to work and to feed some 100 people who showed up at the gates every day.
The thirteen men became known as the "Brothers of St. Cross". Despite the religious connotations of the term "brother", the Brothers of St. Cross were not and are not monks, therefore St. Cross is not a monastery.
The Wayfarer's Dole
The Hospital of St. Cross' most unique and famous charitable endeavor is surely the so-called "Wayfarer's dole".
According to this delightful tradition, every visitor of the almshouse can ask for a free horn of beer and a morsel of bread. As recalled by the organization's website, the custom was started by a monk from Cluny, in France, whose holy order always gave bread and wine to travelers.
After so many centuries, this tradition still continues nowadays as seen in the BBC's program Songs of Praise👇
The Hospital of St. Cross, which is hosted in a beautiful medieval building immersed in the British countryside, is regularly open for visits. Head to the organization's website for additional information.