Nerds Over Cattle: How Food Technology Will Save the World


There’s fun food technology, like meal and grocery delivery, and then there’s urgent food technology: the kind that can address the looming questions of how we’re going to feed 9.7 billion people by 2050, and how we’re going to do that without worsening the climate crisis.

This might sound like it would require radically more efficient crops—a new green revolution. Or maybe it will require a new type of fertilizer, a crazy advance in nanotechnology, or something involving interstellar farming. Paging Elon Musk!

Bruce Friedrich is executive director of The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes alternatives to animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs.

But no, in fact the solution to both of the big problems in food technology—how we’re going to feed a burgeoning population and what we’re going to do about climate change—is actually pretty simple: plant-based protein.

At least that’s what Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt claimed at the Milken Global Summit a few months ago. He calls the concept “nerds over cattle,” and it’s the reason that the Good Food Institute, which I direct, exists: to promote plant-based and “clean meat” technologies, to solve the problems of animal agriculture and improve life on earth by an order of magnitude in the near future.

Plant-based meat is obvious: It’s meat made from plants. Clean meat is less obvious; it’s meat grown through cellular agriculture in what look like meat breweries, no animal slaughter required. read more…


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