367. The Future of Meat (Rebroadcast)


Josh their podcast listeners the episode. You're about to hear the future of meat was first published in february and quickly became one of our most downloaded episodes ever. Why is it because so many of you love to eat meat. Maybe or is it because so many of you don't love to eat meat. Also maybe let me explain. There is a movement happening right now a really large movement around meatless meat and meat lake food food that does not come from living animals. The california company beyond me had one of the hottest i._p._o.'s in recent memory and it's barely slowed down their market cricket calf. Now is over nine billion dollars impossible foods. The company you'll hear about in today's episode also appears to be headed for an i._p._o. And perhaps perhaps a similar success. Is it possible that fifty years from now or even twenty or even ten years most of the meat we eat won't come from animals animals. Let's check in then but for now here's our best attempt at describing the future of me <music>. Let's begin with a few basic facts fact number one a lot of people all over the world really like to eat meat especially beef pork doc chicken if you add all together. We're actually higher than we've been in recent history. Let's jason lusk. I'm a professor and head of the agricultural economics department at purdue university. I studied what we eat and why we eat it and then in terms of overall meat consumption per capita in the u._s. How do we rank worldwide worldwide. We're we're the king meters so compared to almost any other country in the world. We eat more meat per capita. Even brazil argentina. Yes yes and part of that. Difference is income-based so if you took argentina brazil and adjusted for income they would probably be consuming more than us but we happen to be richer so we eat a little more. The average american consumes roughly two hundred pounds of meat a year. That's an average so let's say your meat eater and someone in your family is vegetarian. Can you might be putting away four hundred pounds a year but in america at least there aren't that many vegetarians. I probably have the largest data set of <hes> vegetarians of any other researcher that i know really why i've been doing a survey of u._s. Food consumers every month for about five years and one of the questions i ask are you uh-huh vegan or vegetarian so over five years time and about a thousand people a month. I've got about sixty thousand observations. Wow and is this a nationwide in wide data survey. It is <hes> representative in terms of age income education. I'd say on average you're looking at about three to five percent of people will say yes to that question that say there's a very slight uptick over the last five years so again a lot of meeting in america what are some other countries that consume a lot of meat australia and new zealand israel canada russia most european countries and increasingly china one of the things we we know is that when consumers get a little more income in their pocket one of the first things they do want to add high value proteins to their diets. What is the relationship generally between g._d._p. Meat meat consumption positive <hes> although sort of diminishing returns so as you get to really high income levels it might even tell off a little bit but certainly at the lower end of that spectrum as a country grows in adds more g._d._p. Start to see some pretty rapid increases in meat consumption. Meat consumption is of course driven by social and religious factors as well by health concerns and animal welfare. Not everyone agrees that humans should be eating animals at all that said we should probably assume that the demand for me will continue to rise as more of the world keeps getting richer. How's the supply side doing with. This increased demand quite well. The meat industry is massive and complicated and often heavily subsidized but long story short if you go by the availability of meat and especially what consumers pay this is an economic success story so prices of almost oliver meat products have declined pretty considerably over the last sixty to one hundred years and and the reason is that we have become so much more productive at at producing meat if you look at most of the statistics like they might have port produced per south and we'd take out a lot of the seasonal variation that we used just to see these animals have been pride indoors and and you look at at poultry production and broiler production the amount of meat that's produced per broiler has risen dramatically almost doubled say over the last fifty to one hundred years while also consuming slightly less feed. That's due largely to selective elective reading and other technologies same goes for beef production. We get a lot more meat per animal for example on a smaller amount of land and as you can imagine people concerned with animal welfare may not celebrate these efficiency improvements and then there's the argument that that despite these efficiency improvements turning animals into food is wildly inefficient because the cow didn't evolve to be meat. That's the thing that's that's pat brown. Use a longtime stanford biomedical researcher who's done groundbreaking work in genetics. The cow evolved to be a cow and make more cows and not to be eaten by humans and it's not very good at making me meaning it takes an enormous amount of food and water and other resources to turn a a cow or a pig into dinner much more than plant based foods and is pat brown sees it that is not even the worst of it the most environmentally destructive technology on earth using animals in food production. Nothing else even comes close. Not everyone agrees that meat production is the environment's biggest enemy what's not in dispute is that global demand for me is high and rising and that the production of meat is resource intensive and at the very least environmental challenge with implications for climate climate change pat brown thinks he has a solution to these problems. You started a company. The company whose mission is to completely replace vice animals as a food production technology by twenty thirty five the meat industry as you can. Imagine has other ideas we want to keep the term meet and to what is traditionally harvested and raised <hes> in the traditional manner today on freakonomics radio everything. You always wanted to know about me about meatless. Let's meet and where meat meets future mm-hmm from from stitcher and w productions. This is freakonomics radio. The podcast explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host stephen duffner. What determines which food food you put in your mouth every day. There are plainly a lot of factors personal preference tradition geography on and on so take something like <unk> horse consumption that it's almost unheard of to even think about consuming a horse in the united states jason lusk again the <unk> agricultural economist whereas you go to belgium or france it would be a commonly consumed dish but there's another big factor that determines who eats what technology <music> technology related to how food is grown preserved transported but also technology that isn't even related to the food itself consider the case of mutton. Mutton is the meat of an adult sheep. The meat of young sheep is called lamb. I'm willing eh that you have not eaten in the last six months. Probably the last six years maybe never but if we were talking one hundred years ago oh different story that certainly the case that back in the nineteen twenties and thirties at that mutton was a much more commonly consumed product. Mutton was a staple of the american diet. One of the standard items shipped to soldiers during world war two was canned mutton but shortly after the war mutton and started to disappear what happened as she is. Not just me okay. Sheep is not just meet these are multi product product species and their valuable not just for their meat but further wall oh yeah wool and unlike leather which can be harvested only once from from an animal you can share wool from one sheep many times over many years so anything that affects the demand for wool is also going to affect the underlying market for the rest of the <hes> of the underlying animals and what might affect the demand for wool how about synthetic substitutes nylon for instance was created created by dupont in nineteen thirty five and became available to the public in nineteen forty a year later polyester was invented so anytime you had new clothing technologies come along that's going to affect the underlying demand for for sheep and make them less less valuable than they would have been otherwise so an increase increase in synthetic fabrics led to a shrinking demand for wool which meant that although sheep that had been kept around for shearing no longer needed to be kept around and also will subsidies were repealed and america's sheep flock drastically shrank from high of fifty six million in nineteen forty two. You barely five million today. It is amazing. I've worked at several <hes> agricultural universities across the u._s. Now often the largest sheep herds in those states or at the university research farms and fewer sheep meant less mutton for dinner is it possible americans would have stopped eating mutton without the rise of synthetic fabrics bricks absolutely if you ask a room full of meat eaters to name their favourite me. I doubt one of them will say mutton still this. This is just one example of how technology can have a big effect on the meat we eat and if you talk to certain people it's easy to believe that we're on the verge of a similar similar but much larger technological shift okay. My name is pat brown. I am currently the c._e._o. And founder impossible foods whose mission is to completely replace animals as a food production technology brown grew up in the suburbs of washington dc z. as well as paris and taipei father worked for the c._i._a. He studied to be a pediatrician and in fact completed his medical residency but he switched switched to biochemistry research. I had the best job in the world. <hes> at stanford my job was basically to discover and invent things and follow my curiosity. Brown did this for many years and was considered a world-class researcher. One of his breakthroughs was a new tool for genetic mapping. It's called the d._n._a. Micro ray that lets you read all the words sal is using and effectively kind of start to learn the vocabulary learn how the genome writes the life story of a cell or something like that it also has practical applications because what it's doing in sort of a deterministic way specifies the potential of that cell or if it's a cancer sal some people think the d._n._a. Micro array will win. Pat brown a nobel rebel prize when i bring this up he just shakes his head and smiles. It's clear that his research was deep passion for me. This was the dream job. It was like in the renaissance you know having the magies as <hes> patrons or something like that but after many years brown wanted a change he was in his mid fifty s. He took a sabbatical figure out his next move. It started out with <hes> stepping back from the work. I was doing and ask myself the most important thing i could do. What could i do that. We have the biggest positive impact on the world and looking at what are the biggest unsolved problems in the world. I came relatively quickly. They conclusion that the use of animals fruit production technology is by far and <unk>. I'd give you endless reasons why that's true but it is absolutely true by far the most environmentally destructive thing that humans do there is indeed a great deal of evidence for this argument coming across the entire environmental spectrum the agricultural historian james mcwilliams a book called just food are used that quote every environmental mental problems related to contemporary agriculture ends up having its deepest roots in meat production monocropping excessive applications of nitrogen fertilizer addiction fiction to insecticides rainforest depletion land degradation topsoil runoff declining water supplies even global warming all these problems mcwilliams williams writes would be considerably less severe if people ate meat rarely if ever. There's no doubt that meat production has environmental consequences focuses. Jason lusk again to suggest that it's the most damaging environmental thing we do is <hes> i think pretty extreme overstatement but what about the greenhouse gas gas emissions associated with raising me especially in the u._s. Which is the world's largest beef producer our own e._p._a. Environmental protection agency suggests that all of livestock contributes about three percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions so i mean three percent is not nothing but it's it's not the major contributor contributor that we see that that number i should say is much higher than many other parts of the world so the carbon impacts per pound produced are so much smaller. We're here than a lot of other world but when you tell people the way to reduce carbon emissions is to intensify animal production and that's not a story a lot of people like to hear because why not it sounds ah gets against animal welfare well two reasons exactly one is there are concerns about animal welfare particularly when you're talking about ruler chickens or or hogs less so about cattle the other one is there are concerns about when you concentrate all animals one place and get all this waste in in a location that you have to think about creative eight of ways to deal with that don't have some significant our mental problems so the e._p._a. Number livestock contributing three percent does that include the entire production chain go because some of the numbers that i see from environmental activists is much much higher than that the u n estimate that you often hear from iraq originally it was created in this report called livestock. Long shadow was something around nineteen percent that nineteen percent roughly number is a global number. <hes> actually there was a study that came out pointing out some flaws in that so they reduced it somewhat in any case there is is a growing concern in many quarters over the externalities of meat production over the last five to ten years. There's been a lot of negative publicity stories about environmental impacts about carbon emissions about animal welfare and if you just look at the news stories you would think boy <hes> people must be really cutting back in the sort of frightful stories that you see on the front pages of the newspapers but if you look at the data itself <hes> demand looks fairly elise stable and so that suggested either. It's it's hard to change people's preferences on this. There's something about meat consumption. Some people would argue that were evolved to like meet that it's a protein vitamin packed. You know tasty punch that we've grown to enjoy as a species there are are some people that even argue that it's one of the reasons we became a smart as we did the vitamins and nutrients during that meet allowed our brains to you develop in certain ways that it might have not otherwise pat brown saw same strong preference for me when he decided that the number one scientific scientific problem to solve was replacing animals as food and it's a problem that nobody was working on in any serious way because everybody recognize that most people in the world including most environmental scientists and people who care about this stuff a love the food that we get from animals so much that they can't imagine <hes> giving those up brown himself was a longtime vegan so i've i haven't eaten you know beat for decades gauge and that's just a personal choice that i made long before i realized the destructive impact of that industry that was a choice for other reasons and it wasn't something that i felt like you know i was in a position. Tell other people to do and i still don't feel like there's any value in doing that. Brown makes an interesting point here many of us when we feel strongly about something environmental issue or social or economic because you were inclined to put forth a moral argument amaro argument would appear to be persuasive evidence of the highest order. You should do this thing because it's the right thing to do but there is a ton of research showing that moral arguments are generally ineffective. People may smile at you and nod but they won't change their behavior. That's what brown realized about meet. The basic problem is that that people are not gonna stop wanting these foods and the only way you're gonna solve it is not by estimate you halfway and give them a substandard product. That doesn't deliver what they know. They want from meat or fish or anything like that the only way to do it. Is you have to say. We're going to do with a much harder thing. Which is we're going to figure out how to make meet. That's not just as delicious as the meat. We get from animals. It's more delicious and better nutritionally and more affordable double and so forth in other words a marginal improvement on the standard veggie burger would not do it's been tried. It just doesn't work. It's a waste of effort offered so brown's started fooling around in his lab doing some kind of micro experiments just to convince myself in a way that this was doable the early experiments were fairly encouraging. I felt like okay. There's a bunch of things i thought <hes> could be useful and then i felt like i could just go in with a little bit more confidence to talk the investors. The investors meaning venture capitalists remember brown is at stanford which is next door to the the biggest pile of venture capital in the history of the world then basically by pitch them. Was you know it was it was very naive from a fundraising standpoint in the sense and set <hes> basically i mostly just told them about how there's this absolutely critical environmental told disaster that needs to be solved and and they're probably expecting to hear something now about carbon capture. That's that's the thing. Most people still are so anyway. Blah blah blah so i told these guys look. This is an environmental disaster. No one's doing anything about it. I'm going to solve it for you. So how does the almost pediatrician who became a freewheeling biochemist build a better meet from the ground up that amazing story after the break okay bingo. This is how we're going to do. I'd freakonomics radio sponsored by kronos cronos knows that hiring in retaining a modern workforce of salaried hourly full and part-time workers can be challenging especially in today's competitive job market. That's why kronos puts h._r. <unk> payroll talent and time in one place so h._r. 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I dot google dot com switch to google fi a phone plan by google. It's estimated that more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with all animal agriculture comes comes from cows and that is due to the fact that be for ruminant animals the purdue economists jason lusk again their stomachs produce methane <hes> <hes> comes out the front end not the back end is a lot of people think and as a consequence we look at carbon consequences mainly beef that people focus on not pork birchington because <hes> they don't have the same kind of digestive systems. There has been progress in this area for instance. It turns out that adding seaweed to cattle. Oh feed drastically reduces their methane output but the scientists pat brown is looking for a much bigger change to the animal agriculture industry. If i could god snap my fingers and make that industry disappear right now which i would do i could and it'd be a great thing for the world. It is very unlikely to disappear anytime soon. It is a trillion dollar global industry supported in many places by government subsidies selling a product product that billions of people consume once twice three times a day. Pat brown's desire would seem to be an impossible one in the company. He founded is called impossible foods. It's essentially a tech startup. It's raised more than seven hundred fifty million dollars in venture capital. Oh and as of may was valued at two billion dollars so we've only been <hes> in existence for about seven years and we have a lot three eight hundred people we started basically <hes> building a team of some of the best scientists in the world to study how meat works basically and and by that i mean to really understand that a basic level the way in my previous life. When i was about medical scientist we might be studying how a normal cell of this particular kind become a cancer cell understanding the basic biochemical mechanisms in this case but we want anton just stand was what are the basic biochemical mechanisms that account for the unique flavor chemistry mystery and their flavor behavior and aromas and textures and juicy nece and all those are qualities that consumers value in meat and we spent spent about two and a half years just doing basic research trying to answer that question before we really started working on a product and then uh-huh decided for strategic reasons that our first product would be while ground beef made entirely from plants because burger's what people want or well. There's a lot of <hes> <hes> reasons why i think it was a good strategic choice the largest single category of meeting the u._s. It's probably the most iconic kind of meat in the u._s. It seemed like the ideal vehicle for communicating to consumers that delicious meat <hes> doesn't have to come from animals <hes> because it's it's sort of the uber or meat for a lot of people hooper lower case you with a lower keep not kaelin burgers and beef production is the most environmentally environmentally destructive segment of the an wider culture industry so from an impact standpoint it made sense as a choice so pat brown said about repurposing the scientific wisdom accrued over a long fruitful career in in biomedicine a career that may improve the health and wellbeing of countless millions and now he got to work on a truly earthshaking project building a better burger. A burger doesn't come from a cow impossible burger so oh how did that work. What ingredients do you put in an impossible burger. That's an interesting aspect signs. Which is that we didn't look for. What are the precisely specific choices of ingredients that would work. We studied what are the biochemical chemical properties we need from the set of ingredients and then we did a survey of things available from the plant world that match those biophysical we'll properties and so forth of which there were choices so what are the main components of this burger. I can tell you what it's made of right now. The what it's made of right now is different from how it was made two years ago and that was different from how has made two and a half years ago and the next version asian. We're going to launch his co. Quite different set of ingredients. We i interviewed brown several months ago the main ingredients at the time included a protein from wheat a protein from potato starch from potatoes but a protein from potatoes to byproduct of starch production among the other ingredients coconut oils the major fats horse and and then we have a bunch of other small molecules but they're all familiar with things acids of vitamin sugars nutrients but all these ingredients did not make pat brown's plant eh based hamburger meat taste or act or look lake hamburger meat. It was still missing a critical component. A component called him okay so he has found in essentially every living thing and he implants and human animals is the exact same molecule okay. It's it's just one of the most ubiquitous ubiquitous and fundamental molecules in life on earth period the system that burns calories to produce energy uses team as an essential component and it's what carries oxygen in your blood what and what makes your blood red and none of this we discovered this has been known for a long time and and <hes> so animals have a lot more hime than plants dance and it's that very high concentration of him that accounts for the unique flavors of meat that you would recognize something as meat. It's the overwhelmingly dominant factor in making the unique taste of meat and visit isn't involved in texture and mouth feel and all that as well he does taste just okay just taste texture and mouth feel are important and there's a whole nother set of research around that super important it kinda gets short shrift because people think of the flavor as sort of the most most dramatic thing about me but you have to get out of this stuff right to brown and his team of scientists after a couple years of research and experimentation were getting a lot lot of that stuff right but without him a lot of hime their meatless meat would never resemble meat so there is one component of a certain kind of plant that has a high concentration team and that is in plants that fix nitrogen taking nitrous from the air and turn it into fertilizer <hes> they they have a structure called the root nodule <hes> joe where nurtured and fixation takes place and for reasons that are too complicated to explain right now they they that has a high concentration of team and i just happened to know this from way back and and if you slice open the root nodules of one of these plants they have such a high concentration of him that they look like a freshly cut steak okay and and i did a calculation shen about the concentration of that stuff so chemo. Goldman is a protein which is virtually identical to the team protein in muscle tissue which is called my globe and <hes> that there was is enough leg hemoglobin in the root nodules of the u._s. Soybean crop to replace all the team in all the meat consumed in the u._s. Okay so i thought genius okay. We'll just go out and harvest all these root nodules from the u._s. Soybean crop and we'll get this stuff practically for free well so are raised money for the company and we spent like half the money trying to figure out how to harvest sees raju from soybean plant only basically the finally convince ourselves said it was a terrible idea but if you are a veteran scientists lake brown a little failure is not so offputting eating you know you're going to be doing things that are pushing the limits and trying entirely new things and a lot of we're gonna fail and if you don't have a high high tolerance for that and realize that basically the way you do really really important cool stuff is by trying a lot of things and not punishing punishing yourself for the failures but just celebrating the successes you know you're you're not going to accomplish as much in the idea of buying up all the root nodules of the u._s. With soybean crop wasn't a complete failure. I mean we got enough that we could do experiments to prove that really wasn't magic ingredient from flavor and so forth but then we had to start all over and then <hes> <hes> what we did was we said okay. We're going to have to engineer a microorganism produce gobs of this team protein okay and since now we weren't it bound by any natural source we looked at like three dozen different proteins everything from pera museum to <hes> barley to <hes> hell's gate bacteria which is like this plant back there till that lives in in deep sea vents at near new zealand. That's that survives temperatures above the boiling point of water <hes> that we mostly just looked for fun but finding about that and the reason we rejected is that that you <hes> it it's so heat stable that you can cook a burger to cooking temperature and it still says stays bright red because it doesn't unfold but anyway and then we pick the best one which turned out to be just coincidentally soiling hemoglobin which was the moment going asteroid is actually pretty good. It wasn't really a brilliant idea would <unk> accidentally turned out to be the right choice through the magic of modern plant engineering pat brown's team began creating massive stocks of him <hes> and that would help catapult the impossible burger well beyond the realm of the standard veggie burger the mostly unloved veggie burger. We should say the impossible. Burger looks like hamburger meat. When it's raw in when it's cooked it behaves like hamburger meat most important. It tastes like hamburger. I would like the american earth an impossible. Here's how would you like. Oh the media. Maybe in the middle. It's the freakonomics radio team recently eight some impossible burgers in a restaurant near times square. I actually can't tasted like it is like a good day for the impossible for economics zac lipinski housing craig o. rien kelly and greg rippin. Their meal happened to coincide with the release of impossible burger two point. Oh oh an updated recipe that uses a soy protein instead of a week protein and has a few more tweaks less salt sunflower oil to cut the coconut toil and no more is anthem gummer condom in my own tasting experience impossible burger. One point zero was really good but a little slushy eighty two point zero was burger tastic. I did not record my burger tasting but if i did it would have sounded like this <music>. These are of course are subjective observations. Here's some actual evidence impossible. Burgers are already being served served in thousands of locations primarily in the u._s. But also hong kong and macau these include very high end restaurants in new york and california as well as fast food chains sounds like you mommy burger white castle and burger king which after piloting the impossible walker in saint louis this spring has just gone nationwide impossible hospital also has plans to start selling its burger meat in grocery stores this year we've grown in terms of our sales and revenue and so forth about thirty fold in the past year and our goal is to completely replace animals food technology by twenty thirty five that means we have to approximately double in size and an impact every year for the next you know eighteen years. Are we understand that you are taking aim at pigs and chickens and fish as well yes of course so when when we first started out we were working on technology platform and sort of the know how about how meat works in general we were working on <hes> understanding dairy products and cheeses and and stuff like that and then we decide okay we have to pick one product launch with and then we have to from commercialization sandpoint just go all in on it for a while as the scientists as a scientist. Were you reluctant to kind of narrow yourself for that commercial interest or did you appreciate that this. This is the way in this world things actually happen. Both i mean let's put it this way. I would like to be able to to pursue all these things in parallel and if i had the resources sources i would but if we launched another product right now we just be competing against ourselves for resources for commercialization so just doesn't make any sense <music> we put out an episode not long ago called two totally opposite ways to save the planet it. It featured the science journalist charles man. Are we going to deal with climate change. There've been two ways that have been suggested overarching ways to represent if you like polls continuum and they've been fighting with each other for decades the two polls are represented by what man calls in his latest book the wizard and the prophet the prophet sees environmental destruction as a problem best addressed by restoring nature to its natural state the wizard. Meanwhile believes that technology analogy can address environmental dangers. This is of course a typology a shorthand. A profit doesn't necessarily fear technology any more within a wizard fears nature that said if there were ever an embodiment of the wizard profit hybrid person driven by idealism an pragmatism in equal measure. I'd say it's brown from impossible foods which means his invention has the capacity city to upset people all across the spectrum the consumers and activists who might cheer a meatless meat are often the same mm sort of people who are anti g._m._o. Genetically modified organisms in the impossible burger would not have been possible without it's genetically modified him which by the way the f._d._a. Recently declared safe after challenges from environmental groups like friends of the earth another group that might object to impossible foods the meat industry you know the ones who use actual animals to raise food. My name is kelly fogarty and i serve as the executive vice president for the united states cattlemen's association and i am a fifth generation beef cattle rancher here in oakdale california. I'm just curious as a woman. You find yourself ever wishing the u._s. Cattlemen's association would change their name or you okay with it. You know it's funny. You mentioned that there was always a little bit of a notion there in the back of my mind of a have you know of course being an industry for so long i take it as representing all of the livestock industry but definitely having a special nod to all the a female ranchers out there would be nice to have as well and what is the primary difference between the u._s. Cattlemen's association and the national cattlemen's beef association as the united states cattlemen's association. We are made up primarily of cattle producers so your family ranches. You know cow. Calf operations is run by producers and kind of four producers as what u._s._c._c._a. was built on whereas national cattlemen's beef association does include some more of packer occur influences as well as some of the processing facilities as well. Can you just talk generally for a moment. How big of a threat does the beef industry receive from alternative quote meat so from our end and looking at the quote unquote meat and appreciate you <hes> hito using those quotes around that too from our end. We're not so much seeing it as a threat to our product well we really looking at is not <hes> limit on consumer choice or trying to back one product out of the market. It's really to make sure that we're keeping the information out there accurate and that what is available consumers and what is being shown to consumers on labels is accurate to what the product actually is in two thousand eighteen forties organization filed a petition with the u._s._d._a. to prevent products from being labeled as beef or meet unless they come from cow couch. I mean does that mean that your organization thinks that consumers are confused by labeling that the primary objection so the primary deduction from from the united states cattlemen's association is that we want to keep the term meet to what is traditionally only harvested and raised in the traditional manner and so when we see the term meat being put on these products that is not derived from that that <hes> definition what our producers came to us in really wanted us to act on was what we saw happened in other industries specifically typically when you look at the dairy industry and where the term milk has now been used almond milk for instance which comes from almonds not animals which led the national milk producers federation to argue that it should not be sold as almond milk the f._d._a. Commissioner seem seem to agree pointing out that quote and almond doesn't lactate and the agency is now reviewing the labeling policy. Which is why you may soon see your grocery store. We're carrying almond beverage rather than almond milk. There are important differences between so-called milk that doesn't come from animals and so-called meet that doesn't come from animals almond milk as very different nutritional content and cow's milk the impossible burger. Meanwhile has a similar nutritional attritional profile to hamburger including the iron content which vegans can have trouble getting enough of that's another reason why kellie fogarty and the u._s. Cattlemen's association association might not want the impossible burger to be labeled me. I am just curious about the kind of i guess mental state of your industry because i was looking at your facebook page and one post the other day lead with with the following eat or be eaten <hes> be at the table or on the menu fight or be forgotten saddam that sounds it would make me believe that that the future of meat is one in which cattle ranchers feel a little bit like an endangered species or at least under assault. I think that speaks to a lot of i think misconceptions that are out there regarding the u._s. beef industry whether it be in terms of nutrition environment animal welfare. You're <hes> we've. We've really been hit from a lot of different angles over the years okay well. According to some scientific research meat production an and or cattle ranching are among the most environmentally damaging activities on on earth between the resource intensiveness land but especially the water and the extra analyses the runoff manure and chemicals into groundwater. I think one of the first points to make is that cattle cattle are are really they're defined as as what is termed as upside dealers and so- cattle today they're turning plans that have little to no nutritional value just as is into a high quality and a highly high dense protein and so so when you look at where cattle grazing in the u._s. and then also across the world a lot of the land that they are grazing on orland that is not suitable for crops or or would be a kind of looking as a highly marginal type of of land and the ability of livestock to turn what is is there into something that can feed the world is pretty remarkable. Fogarty believes her. The industry has been unfairly maligned that has come to be seen as a target for environmentalist groups and causes. I would absolutely say the livestock industry <hes> and into that matter agriculture industry as a whole i think has really been at the brunt of a lot of a lot of disinformation campaigns fogarty points to the u._n. Report claiming that the global livestock industries greenhouse gas emissions were shockingly high report that was found to be built on faulty calculations yeah so it was a really an equitable and grossly inflated percentage that really turned a conversation. The inflated percentage around eighteen percent was really around fourteen point five percent so grossly inflated. Maybe in the eye of the aggrieved fogarty already says that even though the air was acknowledged and a revised report was issued folks have not forgotten it as much as we wish shh. It's still something that it's hard to have folks kind of unreal need or know something that they initially saw the fact is the agricultural industry is massive and massively complex without question it exacts costs on the environment it also provides hides benefits that are literally the stuff of life delicious abundant affordable food as with any industry there are trade-offs trade-offs and there's friction activists tend to overstate their claims in order to encourage reform industry defenders tend to paper over legitimate intimate concerns but in the food industry especially it's clear that a revolution is underway a revolution to have our food be not just delicious wishes and abundant and affordable but sustainable too with fewer negative extra nowadays some startups like impossible foods focus on cleverly engineering plant matter to taste like the animal flesh so many people love other startups are working on what's called lab grown meat using animal stem themselves to grow food without animals. This is still quite young technology but it's very well funded. I was curious to hear kelly. Fogarty's view you of this. One of the investors in the lab meet quote company memphis meets <hes> is cargill <hes> which is is a major constituent of the big meat industry. <hes> i mean another investor for what it's worth is bill gates but i'm curious. What's what's your position on that. Because the way i think about this long-term longterm presumably affirm cargill can win the future with alternative quote meet in a way that a cattle rancher can't so oh i'm curious what the position is of ranchers on this kind of investment from a firm light cargo or other firms that are sort of hedging their bets awesome on the future of meat you know and it's a really interesting point in it's it's been a bit of a tough pill for producers to swallow <hes> the fact that some the big three some of these big processing plants that have been so obviously heavily focused and have been livestock dominant are now now kind of going into this alternative in sometimes a cell cultured lab meets alternative proteins and it really has been a point of contention among a lot of producers who are kind of <hes> confused unsure feel a little bit. <hes> you know kind of how you know trying to think of the right term here but i don't wanna say betrayed by by the industry but but a little bit so others may soon feel betrayed as well a company called modern meadows is using similar technology to grow leather in the lab without the need for cattle the israeli company super meat is focused on growing chicken impossible foods is experimenting with fish substitutes including an anchovy flavored broth roth and then there's a company called finless foods. Finless foods is taking seafood back to basics and creating real fish meat entirely early without mercury plastic without the need for antibiotics or growth hormones and also without the need for fishing or the killing of animals because we grow the fish directly from stem cells. It's mike selden the co founder and c._e._o. Of finless he's twenty seven years old. He started out as a cancer researcher. Searcher lake pat brown. You could call him a wizard prophet hybrid. He does take issue with the idea of lab grown food. The reality what is like labs are by definition experimental are not scalable see. This won't be grown in a lab at all. It's prototypes in the lab in the same way. Snacks are prototypes in a lab doritos are prototypes in a lab by material scientists looking at different dimensions of like crunch and torsion and all these other sort of mechanical properties <hes> so what are facility will look like when we're actually at production scale. It's something really a lot closer to a brewery. <hes> big steel tanks that are sort of allowing these cells space in order to divide and grow into large quantities of themselves while accessing all the nutrients that we put inside of this nutritional broth aw the fishing industry the meat industry exact its share of environmental costs but lake pat brown. Mike seldom does not want his company to win on goodwill points so the goal of finless foods is not to create something that competes on ethics or morals or environmental goals. It's something that will compete heat on taste price in nutrition. The things that people actually care about you know right now <hes> everybody really loves wales and people hate when wales are killed old what changed because we used to kill whales for their blubber in order to light lamps. It wasn't an ethical movement. It wasn't that people woke up one day and decided did oh killing whales is wrong. It was that we ended up using kerosene instead. We found another technological solution supply-side change that didn't play on people's morals laurels in order to win. We see ourselves as something like that. You know why work with an animal at all. If you don't need to indeed you could imagine in the not so distant future a scenario in which you could instantly summon any food imaginable new foods new combinations but also foods that long ago fell out of favour. How much fun would that be. I asked the agricultural economist jason lusk about this if we had a three d. printer and let's say had just we'll be conservative one hundred buttons of different foods that it could make me does anyone anyone pressed the button button on the great things about our food system is that it's a food system that yes makes food affordable but also has has a whole awful lot of choice for people who are willing to pay it and i bet there's probably at least one or two people out there that will push that button. I also asked lusk for his economic views on the future of meat especially the sort of projects that inventors like mike selden and pat brown or working on you know i. I have no problems with what you know. Dr brown's trying to do their an indeed. I think it's very exciting this technology and i think you automatically. It'll come down to whether this lab. Grown meat can compete on the merit so there's no free lunch here in fact that impossible burger. I've seen it on menus. It's almost always higher price than the traditional beefburger now as an economist look at that and say those prices to me should be signaling something about resource use. Maybe it's 'perfect. Maybe there's some extra analogies but they should reflect all the resources that were used to go into produce that product. It's one of the reasons that beef is more expensive than say chicken. It takes more time more inputs to get produce a pound of beef than a pound of chicken. So why is it that the impossible burger is more expensive the regular burger now <hes> it could be that this is just a start up and they're not working at scale once. They really scale this thing up at a really bring the price down it could be. They're also marketing to a particular. A higher income consumer is willing to pay a little more but i think you know if the claims about <hes> the impossible burger are truth overtime one would expect these <hes> <hes> products to come down significantly in price and be much less expensive than beef production and this is not gonna be friends happy but if they can do that good for him <hes> in consumers want to pay for this part of your life the way it tastes and it saves money which means it savings and resources i think in that sense it's a great technology coming coming up next time on freakonomics radio another n._f._l. Season is about to start. How is this year different mall other years. We've seen hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bets made since we launched and seems to be getting bigger every month recent supreme court ruling cleared the way for widespread sidespread legal sports betting in the u._s. Should we be worried we do know of gambling is associated with lots of bad social affects okay but if you are going to bet on sports what's the first step so a number one learn statistics for sports betting in in the u._s. It is not just fantasy anymore. It's next time on freakonomics radio. Freakonomics radio is produced by stitcher and governor productions. This episode was produced by zach lipinski. Our staff also includes alison craig low greg rippin harry huggins met hickey and korean wallace. Our intern is daphne acne chen. We had helped this week from nelly osborne or theme. Song is mr fortune hitchhikers. All the other music was composed by lee scare. 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Ooh stitcher freakonomics listeners. My name is mick turner. I'm nick batra and we are two comedians who are bad with money. We need more of it so we started this podcast to learn how to make some money every week. We try a new get rich. Quick scheme in in this gig economy to see if we can make money doing it. Some are legit others are less. We try plasma donation. We walk dogs at aren't ours. We write e books. We move the furniture back and forth. We sell drugs. We sneak things across the border. They are drugs. We bribed cops costumes in hollywood boulevard and shake people's both hands that don't want to be shaking. One of us takes a bullet and sells it at a pawn shop. We don't make much money that episode now in fact my friend unwanted bullet bag. Gingrich nick is out august twenty seven subscribe wherever you get your podcast.

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