Top | Newsletter 2013

Culinate Newsletter August 8

(mailing, James Berry)

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 h1. Dear readers,

 Many of us are trying to cut our own meat consumption, but a few business people are serious about finding large-scale alternatives to meat. You may have heard the news that in Britain this week, food critics tasted the world's first lab-grown hamburger. My impression is that they weren't bowled over by the $330,000 creation — funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin — although they admitted it wasn't bad: "It's close to meat, but it's not that juicy," said one. "The general bite feels like a hamburger," said the other. 

 Often I look to Tom Philpott for analysis of big food-related news items, and about this one he is lukewarm. For one thing, such a product takes huge amounts of energy to produce: "I just hope the effort doesn't distract from the necessary, difficult task of convincing people to eat much less meat — and when we do eat meat, to relying on meat from animals that feed on stuff we can't eat directly, like cows that live and munch on well-managed grasslands."

 Recently, I learned about a new California-based company called Beyond Meat. Unlike the bionic burger, its vegan product, billed as a meat substitute, is relatively affordable — $5.29 for 12 ounces — and is widely available (at most Whole Foods markets). The item I tasted, Grilled Chicken-Free Strips, looks and tastes like, yep, chicken, but not the plump hen you buy at a good butcher; more like the grilled chicken strips from a fast food restaurant. It's made of soy protein, pea protein, amaranth, and a lot of other ingredients, including "chicken flavor"; six strips contain 350 mg of sodium, a-not-insignificant amount. 

 Many people, a lot of them children, will be thrilled to eat this item, although I'm not sure I'm one of them.

 But maybe I'll get used to the idea. It's a Brave New World out there for those of us changing how much meat we eat. How quickly we adapt and adjust is still in the cards.
 Kim Carlson
 Editorial Director

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story1text: "How did the Bay Area hatch its progressive food culture? Alice McLean reviews a new book."
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story2text: "How two sisters from Bohemia forged a new life in Florida, based on what they'd learned in the kitchen."

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recipe2text: "Throw a steak on the barbie, and then embellish it with chimichurri for Churrasco Nicaraguense." 

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