Counting One's Fake Chickens



A recent Time Magazine article details an eggciting beak-through in fake-meat science. For more than a decade, scientists at the University of Missouri have been scratching their heads over how to make a fake chicken product that not only tastes like chicken, but also has “that ineffable chew of real flesh.”

“What has confounded fake-meat producers for years is the texture problem. Before an animal is killed, its flesh essentially marinates, for all the years that the animal lives, in the rich biological stew that we call blood: a fecund bath of oxygen, hormones, sugars and plasma.”

Yak. But while trying to simulate the sinewy tear of flesh might sound fowl to vegetarians, scientists have high hopes that the new “meat analog” discovered by University of Missouri biological engineering professor Fu-Hung Hsieh—a dry mixture of soy-protein powder, wheat flour, oil and water dumped into an industrial extruder and then quickly heated and cooled—could solve many of the environmental issues associated with raising animals for human consumption.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock activities currently contribute to 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. And if nothing is done to change meat consumption patterns, annual global meat production is projected to increase to 465 million tons by 2050, up from 229 million tons in 2000.

Could this fake chicken discovery turn out to be, ahem, a cash cow for the fake meat industry?