Discussions of healthy, sustainable eating are becoming more and more frequent in current times. The consumption of meat is a big part of that, and it’s not all that surprising when you release just how much animal product, we consume each and every year. The average American consumes a huge 7,000 animals in their lifetime, and the equivalent of 800 hamburgers per year. There are campaigns and programs in place to try to reduce this, of course. Meat-free Mondaysare increasingly popular, and the number of people identifying as vegan in the US has risen by a massive 600% in the last three years. But what if there was another way? Companies such as Memphis Meats and Just say that there is another way. A better, cleaner way, but a way that still allows us to enjoy meat products. How? By growing meat in the laboratory.
A spokesman from Memphis Meats explained that “Americans spend roughly $90 billion per year – just on chicken. But while poultry products are delicious and satisfying, the process by which they are made is not. It involves environmental degradation, animal welfare concerns, and public health risks”. Lab grown meat aims to overcome those fewer appealing characters of meat eating. The meat itself is grown from animal cells rather than the actual animal. The cells can even be taken from feathers, so the animal is not harmed in any way, and the meat is not grown into a whole animal, but merely pieces of meat. This process makes use of technology that, while not new, is only now beginning to be used for the production of meat, and it aims to take away the negatives of traditional meat farming. Californian based company Just aims for its products to be cheaper, healthier, and more popular than traditional meat, but there are some things standing in their way at the moment.
Whether fish is farmed or caught free, the process of
getting delicious seafood onto the plates of consumers is rife with problems.
Open sea fishing has severely depleted wild fish stocks, and as a result,
roughly half of the seafood sold in the United States is farm raised, rather
than caught in the open waters, according to NPR.
But like most commercial agriculture, the aquaculture (fish farming) industry
struggles with problems of inefficiency and environmental impact. The practice
of confining thousands of fish to relatively small pens makes it necessary to
use pesticides and antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. Since
aquaculture facilities are usually located in the ocean, discharges of fish
waste, cage materials, and pesticide chemicals can damage surrounding
ecosystems and threaten wild fish populations. Escapement is also a problem, as
escaped fish from these facilities compete with native populations for food.
Furthermore, fish need to be fed, and the question of how to
feed farm-raised fish presents yet another challenge, particularly when it
comes to carnivorous species such as salmon and tuna. As Food & Water watch
out, farmed fish are often fed with wild species such as krill, with the
effect of further threatening wild fish populations by depleting vital elements
of our oceans' ecosystems. It's a system that's woefully inefficient: to raise
one pound of farmed tuna, for example, 15 pounds of wild fish are converted to
feed, according to chef Dan Barber -- wild fish, some argue, that could be used
to feed humans instead.
Over the last decade, unprecedented spikes in oil prices
have made it clear that our current dependence on polluting, non-renewable
fossil fuels is no longer a viable solution to meeting our energy needs. But in
the search for energy alternatives, it is sometimes difficult to get a balanced
perspective on how practical, clean, or sustainable our energy alternatives
really are. Many sources of information are propagated by the industries they
support; other sources are promoted by those determined to nay-say every
alternative energy option by blowing the drawbacks out or proportion and
ignoring the advantages of these options relative to our current fossil fuel
dependence. Amid all the noise and competing agendas, it can be difficult to
discern the true, scientific facts in their proper context.