The development of science and food chemistry result in the ability of engineers to create not only food substitutes but actual copies of milk, wine and possibly meat with very important characteristics: these copies would not need any cows, wineyards or water and food to be sustained. They would be produced in specialised laboratories which definetely diminish the huge impact the food industry is having on our environment. What would the consequences be and is it really a positive news?
There are already several start-ups:
Ava Winery‘s founders describes the startup as “the future of wine” and on their website (https://www.avawinery.com/about-us) they claim that food will be scanned and printed as easily as photographs today, with the same nutritional values and flavors of the “actual” food. These lab-produced wines not only taste great and can reproduce aromas of sophisticated wines through the use of techniques such as cromatographies and mass spectrometry, but also drastically cut the production cost. Which means that the price is also reduced. Consequently it results in good wines being affordable for more people.
Perfect Day is an American company that from yeast and age-old fermentation techniques (the same used to brew beer and make pickles) are able to replicate milk without the need of any cow. The addition of a mix of a plant-based sugars, fats, and minerals result in an enriched diary milk without stabilizers, hormones or lactose. From that milk they are able to produce all the derivates such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. So the result is not a milk-substitute but a real milk, without cows and without the ethical and environmental issues behind it. This would make the switch to a completely plant-based diet less drastic and without changes in terms of traditional food and dishes.
Memphis Meats is another American company made by “meat lovers” for meat lovers but without the negative effects of conventional production. They produce meat from animal cells, therefore without slaughtering, feeding and breeding, this decreases emissions and consuption. Products have not been launched yet, since there are some problems with the serum needed that so far comes from unborn calves and chicks but which the CEOs are searching to substitute with some plant-based product (http://www.businessinsider.com/memphis-meats-chicken-lab-grown-2017-3?IR=T) .
The idea behind all these products is that given the world’s population increasing growth, the increase wealth and the demand for food (especially meat and diary, associated in many countries with higher social classes) expected to double, rather than try to convince everyone to change diet, it would be more efficient to provide the same products without the negative impacts. The hope is that these copies will be allowed to compete and success against the traditional “natural products”. Despite the cuts in consumption, water and feeding, the costs in the making process are still very high for milk and meat, since they require attentive qualified specialists and high quality tools.
All these startups and ideas (and there are more) are the confirmation that there are not only bad news about the fight against global change and the main industries: there are many passionate people trying to find solutions suitable for everyone.