business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Really interesting piece in Fast Company about a new "53,000-square-foot food production facility in Emeryville, California that makes cultivated meat - real meat grown from animal cells, without the animal."  According to the story, :large glass windows offer a view into a warehouse filled with rows of metal tanks and tubes. Welcome to the anti-slaughterhouse: Upside Foods, the company that designed the center as it first commercial facility, will produce chicken, beef, duck, and other meat from cells grown inside bioreactors … The machines inside the building will be able to produce multiple types of meat, cultivating muscle tissue, for example, by feeding muscle cells so that they grow and multiply."

The value proposition,  Fast Company writes, is that "the flavor of the food is exactly like traditionally produced meat, but without the same environmental impacts, animal cruelty, or the risk of pandemics born in factory farms (or bacteria that can no longer be treated with antibiotics because those antibiotics have been overused on farms)."

But here's the really intriguing part of the story:  "Unlike a slaughterhouse, the facility, called EPIC (Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center) is designed to welcome visitors. Tours will begin in January, likely long before U.S. regulatory agencies give approval for the new meat to be sold on the market."

I think that the transparency being offered by EPIC could be one of the things that could make this technology both more acceptable and accessible to consumers - it moves from the mysterious and scary to being something that science is offering to make our world a better place.  I, for one, hope I get the opportunity to visit - I've been to a slaughterhouse, which was not an experience I'd like to repeat, but I'd really like to see this.

Also … the Emeryville location, it seems to me, carries metaphorical meaning as well as physical - it also is the community where Pixar, which revolutionized the movie animation business, is based.

In other words, a place where Eye-Openers happen.