Ever since Robert Malthus published his essay on the Principle of Population, humanity has worried that our population would eventually outstrip our resources.
Written during George Washington’s Presidency when less than a billion people existed on Earth, Malthusianism postulates that population growth is exponential while the growth of the food supply and other resources is linear, making a future crisis inescapable.
So it’s no wonder that science fiction became rife with examples of high-tech fixes for our future food supplies, creating supplies that would never run out.
From the everlasting meal-in-a-pill theme, that actually began at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, to vats of modified soy flavored and formed into every possible food product, to shelves of genetically-modified organisms designed for a changing environment and long shelf lives, to the horrible secret of Soylent Green, we have struggled with the inevitability of not being able to feed everyone on Earth.
My favorite was Larry Niven’s Bandersnatchi, the brontosaurus-sized single-celled organisms genetically-designed to feed the civilizations of Known Space by scooping and eating mutated yeast out of shallow ocean-like yeast colonies on thousands of planets. With chromosomes as thick as a human finger, Bandersnatchi could never mutate away from being food.
But futuristic food is closer, and will be better, than any of these fictions. It’s called Cultivated Meat, and circumvents the actual raising of land animals and fish to go right to making the meat directly – from stem cells grown in vats. Yes, we do have to have the vats.
Avant Meats out of Hong Kong is pushing fast on this method to produce fish protein using new technologies that allow large scale cultivation of animal cells, in their entirety, in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. No pollutants but having the same nutritional value as ordinary meat.
In cultivated meat production, animal stem cells are combined with nutrients, salts, pH buffers, and growth factor and left to multiply in the containers.
Cultivated meats solve numerous problems. We know how harsh grazing animals are on the environment. We know how much water it takes to make a single steak – 2,400 gallons per pound. A pound of meat emits over 20 lbs of CO2 in its creation. Forests are still being razed to make way for grazing cattle.
Cultivated meat requires only a precent of the water and emits a percent of the CO2 of ordinary meat. And if non-fossil fuels, like nuclear, hydro and renewables, are used to power this process, it becomes as green as we can get it.
Also, many people no longer like the idea of slaughtering living beings, regardless of them being bred…
Read more:: Feeding The Planet Isn’t Science Fiction