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Meat the Food of the Future 705

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-your-plate dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that rising food prices, the growing population, and environmental concerns are just a few issues that have food futurologists thinking about what we will eat in the future and how we will eat it. In the UK, meat prices are anticipated to have a huge impact on our diets as some in the food industry prognosticate meat prices could double in the next five to seven years, making meat a luxury item. 'In the West many of us have grown up with cheap, abundant meat,' says Morgaine Gaye. 'Rising prices mean we are now starting to see the return of meat as a luxury. As a result we are looking for new ways to fill the meat gap.' Insects will become a staple of our diet. They cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint. Plus, there are an estimated 1,400 species that are edible to man. 'Things like crickets and grasshoppers will be ground down and used as an ingredient in things like burgers.' But insects will need an image overhaul if they are to become more palatable to the squeamish Europeans and North Americans, says Gaye. 'They will become popular when we get away from the word insects and use something like mini-livestock (PDF).' Another alternative would be lab grown meat as a recent study by Oxford University found growing meat in a lab rather than slaughtering animals would significantly reduce greenhouse gases, energy consumption and water use. Prof Mark Post, who led the Dutch team of scientists at Maastricht University that grew strips of muscle tissue using stem cells taken from cows, says he wants to make lab meat "indistinguishable" from the real stuff, but it could potentially look very different. Finally algae could provide a solution to some the world's most complex problems, including food shortages as some in the sustainable food industry predict algae farming could become the world's biggest cropping industry. Like insects, algae could be worked into our diet without us really knowing by using seaweed granules to replace salt in bread and processed foods. 'The great thing about seaweed is it grows at a phenomenal rate,' says Dr Craig Rose, executive director of the Seaweed Health Foundation. 'It's the fastest growing plant on earth.'"
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Meat the Food of the Future

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  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Sunday August 05, 2012 @01:26PM (#40887149) Homepage

    The EU has a deliberate policy of remaining self sufficient for food. Euro haters love to rage about the huge grain mountains and heavy farm animal subsidies, but the whole point of them is to make sure the EU will always have enough farming capacity to feed itself should the need arise.

    We will never allow ourselves to get to the stage where we don't have enough meat. Yeah, India's population will keep on increasing, but it won't matter much to us. The population of Europe is stabilising and even falling in some places. The third world will carry on starving until they have enough education to limit the number of children they have, but the EU will just keep transferring money from the rich to subsidy for farm animal meat for the rest of us.

  • Re:Meat gap? (Score:4, Informative)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @01:46PM (#40887339)

    "The human body does not require meat."

    Yes it does. At most I could accept that due to our technology we can (hardly) substitute meat with something else.

    "For example, we could just be eating more carrots."

    If you thing you can exchange the protein needs of a growing human being out of carrots, you are beyond salvation.

    "If less meat gets consumed, there will be more food available to humans overall"

    Fat American standard is not "humans overall". About 90% of human population eats meat in quite a reasonable proportion.

  • Re:Meat gap? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:08PM (#40887517)

    It's not bullshit. If you ate nothing but salad every day, you're not going to get the same nutrition that you would from eating a lot of meats.

    The vegetarian/vegan forums are all full of people who go on a fad vegan diet and end up not feeling well or having other issues because they did not adjust their diet properly.

    While most people eat terribly, meat is a very easy source of calories and protein. To get the same from veggies you need to pick out the right stuff. A lot of people don't understand that.

  • That's Chapulines (Score:4, Informative)

    by TarPitt (217247) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:22PM (#40887605)

    A delicacy among Oaxacans:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapulines [wikipedia.org]

    Though I would note the following:

    Chapulines must be very well cooked prior to consumption, because, as with other grasshoppers, they may carry nematodes that can infest human hosts.

    In 2007, several American media reported concerns over lead contamination in products imported from Zimatlán, a municipality in Oaxaca, including chapulines[3]. In California, an investigation among community residents in Monterey County showed a larger risk for lead poisoning on people who either were from or reported eating food imported from Zimatlán.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:26PM (#40887635)

    Um, yeah, you just go on thinking thats a "future tense" activity. Maybe not intentionally, maybe a lower percentage...

    Perhaps you are under the mistaken impression that Westerners are the majority on this planet?

    In Africa, of course we Westerners expect this sort of thing, here in America, we have almost all seen Andrew Zimmern go the these exotic Third World locals and dish himself up a big plate of bugs.

    But in many Asian counties such as the Korean Peninsula, certainly China, and probably Japan, bugs are not just the diet of poor people.

    I've eaten many a bag full of butter fried grasshoppers (or some similar insect) from street stalls and shops right in downtown Seoul. And given some of the "exotic" (disgusting?) sea life that Japanese eat, bugs are surely in their diet as well.

    Maybe MAYBE sometime in the future, insect protein will be added to ground meat products and baked goods for consumption by Westerners, be we are a VERY squeamish society in the United States, and I'll bet Western Europeans are much the same way.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:44PM (#40887789) Journal

    Who apparently weren't too happy about it:
    http://traveltips.usatoday.com/history-maine-lobster-21560.html [usatoday.com]

    During colonial times, lobster was food for the poverty stricken, prisoners and indentured servants. In the Massachusetts colony that encompassed the land that became known as Maine, indentured servants protested and had instructions written in to their seven-year contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

  • Re:Easier solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:45PM (#40887793) Homepage

    That said, my parents raise grass-fed cattle so I could get beef for cheap if I cared to.

    So what? That doesn't (and couldn't) apply to most people on the planet, so adds nothing to the discussion beyond "Cool story, bro" pointlessness.

  • Re:Meat gap? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @02:51PM (#40887841)

    > "The human body does not require meat."

    > Yes it does.

    I guess the 1.5 billion Indians are not humans then, right? Seem to be able to survive just fine without meat!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:03PM (#40887945)

    Good luck eating anything with non-artificial colourings in then. Lots of those are derived from crushed up beetle shells.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:32PM (#40888191)

    Non-militant vegetarians that I know say otherwise. They occasionally eat meat when their bodies feel a little "off", they expect a nutritional imbalance. A steak every month or two gets them feeling "right". As others have pointed out a vegetarian lifestyle requires a very carefully researched and planned diet. This is because it is not the lifestyle we evolved under.

  • Re:Meat gap? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:54PM (#40888359) Journal

    It's not bullshit. If you ate nothing but salad every day, you're not going to get the same nutrition that you would from eating a lot of meats.

    False dichotomy. If you ate nothing but steak every day then you'd also be dead in short order. If you eat a moderately balanced diet then you'll be fine. For a vegetarian, the big issue is making sure that you get the full set of amino acids. If you eat cheese, that's done. If you're a vegan it's a bit harder, but eating both rice and lentils will give you them all, as will several other well-known pairs. You have to have a pretty monotonous diet as a vegetarian to avoid getting all of the nutrients that you need.

    Mind you, the same is true for omnivores, and in the USA a lot of them seem to manage to suffer from malnutrition (and obesity at the same time), so perhaps it is too much to expect...

  • Re:I, Caveman (Score:4, Informative)

    by data2 (1382587) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:07PM (#40889271)

    Most serious vegetarians (I consider myself to be one), know full well that only modern methods of science are able to extract needed amounts of protein from plant sources, be it through tofu, seitan, tempeh or else. Humans are not made to be fueled solely by salad and grass.

    Bio-availability of plant protein is lower when it is only from one source, and while most people eat a diverse enough mix, one can get problems with it quite easily. But by mixing, this can be greatly improved (as can be witnessed by the protein shakes for body builders that are purely plant based).

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:14PM (#40889303) Homepage

    Slaves hated Lobster for much the same reasons that people today prefer things like beef or "rabbit starvation" is named after rabbits.

    Lobsters, like rabbits, have very low fat content. If your meat does not have fat, you are going to have to figure out how you're going to get fat into your diet.

    Substituting starches for fats is not going to help you long-term. Your body will convert those starches into fat, yes - but the body will store it and not use it directly. You'll end up being hungry shortly after eating. You'll also end up suffering mental disorders due to fat nutrient deficiency over time.

    But yeah. Lobster's great and all, but there's a damn good reason people dip it in butter sauce.

    Eating a diet of bugs will suffer the same problem. They have zero fat.

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:30PM (#40889401)

    I have to disagree. The only way to get hungry in US is to blow all your food stamps on liquer and dope. It's actually hard to stay fit with all cheap junk peddled on every corner. If you think a dude on a street with a cardboard sign "Just hungry" is really do not have anything to eath try to give him a sandwich.

    In the face of your experience and wisdom, I can only ask if you read the lowly and uneducated, not to mention no doubt poorly researched NY Times article I referenced? No doubt it can't be compared to your omnipotence but still, I'll quote it to you:
    "...the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed last winter, raised the average monthly food stamp benefit per person by about 17 percent, to $133."

    Calculate that out, it comes to 4.43 USD per day, per person, for food. Can you live healthily on that? No, I didn't think so.

    If you and your family haven't been on food stamps then you don't know what you're talking about. You should hope that you never end up living that firsthand because you'd find out real fast that most people on food stamps (like my parents when I was a child) spend it on food and not a single fucking other thing.

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Monday August 06, 2012 @07:13AM (#40893157) Homepage

    Slaves hated Lobster for much the same reasons that people today prefer things like beef or "rabbit starvation" is named after rabbits.

    Lobsters, like rabbits, have very low fat content. If your meat does not have fat, you are going to have to figure out how you're going to get fat into your diet.

    Substituting starches for fats is not going to help you long-term. Your body will convert those starches into fat, yes - but the body will store it and not use it directly. You'll end up being hungry shortly after eating. You'll also end up suffering mental disorders due to fat nutrient deficiency over time.

    But yeah. Lobster's great and all, but there's a damn good reason people dip it in butter sauce.

    Eating a diet of bugs will suffer the same problem. They have zero fat.

    That is absolutely not true. But let's skip that for a second, and address it as if it were true.

    Those problems can be solved by efficiently and economicallyenriching the food with fats. Notice the words "efficiently and economically". This is a problem we can solve much better than our predecessors. There are quite a few sources of fat that are relatively cheap to mass produce - flax seeds, jojoba, algae, fruit seeds (from which oil is currently extracted for addition to pet food/animal fodder), palm kernels, grasses seeds, hemp seeds, plant roots. Many vegetable things that are not considered edible can be processed to extract edible oils.

    Also, there is algae and krill that could be economically harvested and mixed with insect food.

    But going back to your original claim, the claim that insects have zero fat is unsubstantiated. Grubs and pupae are known for their enormous fats and protein content, with the iconic Australian Wichetty grub leading the - moth larvae, rhino beetle worm, silk worm, termites, agave worm, ant and bee pupae and many others to name a few. Insect eggs could also be exploited that way.

    You sir, are wrong-o.

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