New Food Economy: Silicon Valley wants to give us eggs without chickens, and meat without animals. Do we want that?
What the alt-protein revolution tells us about the future of eating.
by Joe Fassler | March 1st, 2018
Last year, at a home kitchen in San Francisco, Chef Thomas Bowman prepared a radically new kind of meal: chicken nuggets made from a chicken that was still alive.
Bowman’s employer, the “alternative protein” company Just—formerly known as Hampton Creek, maker of the much-discussed eggless mayonnaise Just Mayo—found its bird at Fogline Farm, a small, pastured poultry operation in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. Someone named the bird Ian. The company took a handful of cells from the bony inner shaft of one of Ian’s feathers, and cultivated them further in a proprietary nutritional broth at its San Francisco headquarters. As Ian’s cells fed on plant proteins in a beaker, they began to divide and double, eventually congealing into indeterminate chicken muscle, something not quite breast, thigh, or wing.
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