Food Ink 10

Gift Ideas, Carnivore Clinical Trial, Apprenticeship, Avocados, 3D Printing Meat...

Hello friends and farmers,

First, a quick PSA: If you know any Georgia residents, please remind them to vote in the Georgia runoff elections! They can register to vote here - deadline is tomorrow! Early voting begins December 14 - request a mail-in ballot here.

And if you're looking for some holiday gift ideas, here's a list of regeneratively sourced products curated by the Savory Institute. There's more to regenerative than just food - big names like Eileen Fisher and Timberland are sourcing regenerative wool and leather for some of their apparel. Even Kering, owner of luxury brands Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga among others, is looking into making their supply chain more regenerative (though I don't see any of their stuff on the list yet).

One other gift idea I want to note is the Vanguard boots from Thursday Boot Co. The Indigo colorway is made with regenerative leather sourced from White Oak Pastures (where I work). I plan to snag a pair of these myself.


🔬 If you were at all intrigued by my last (beast of an) essay on my carnivore diet experiment, there's a GoFundMe campaign for a carnivore diet clinical trial. The campaign is being led by Dr. Shawn Baker, a carnivore advocate, and while confirmation bias may be a concern, if done right, this could bring some amazing new data to the conversation around diet and health. Whether you're pro-plant and want to see the hypothesis proved wrong, or you're pro-meat or just meat-curious, you can donate to the GoFundMe here.

🤠 There's a great ranch in California that's hiring. If you know anyone who might be interested, please forward along! TomKat Ranch is a regenerative ranch in the Bay Area that's also heavily involved in research and policy. They are hiring for their Regenerative Ranching Apprenticeship. Apply here.

🥑 Mission Produce, self-described as "the world's most advanced avocado network," IPO'd at the end of last quarter. The hosts of the Snacks Daily podcast call it a "pure-play avocado stock" and it's interesting to hear them break it down as "basically Exxon Mobil, but for avocados, not oil."

These guys laugh about it, but this is an apt and striking comparison that should help put the plant-based environmental hype into context: Plant foods have become commoditized like oil. Meat is no exception, but plant foods do not live up to the halo of innocence and righteousness that they wear. They are shipped across the globe, exported out of exploited parts of the world into fancy grocery stores and onto our plates. Even before that journey begins, the cultivation of cash crops the world over happens in monocultures, which deplete the soil and necessitate the use of nitrogen fertilizers, a fossil fuel product.

Vegan or not, buying into the illusion that eating plants saves the planet ironically deepens our dependence on the fossil fuel-fueled global food supply chain. This is the extractive ethos endemic to globalist consumerist capitalism, spurred on by seemingly innocuous mantras like "eat the rainbow."

🖨 In a fantastic example of reductionist thinking, we are now trying to 3D print plant-based steaks to "recreate the taste and texture of the real thing." The plant-based trend continues to have people focusing on the wrong things. When you understand the carbon sequestering potential of real meat from real grazing livestock, you realize how misguided these efforts are and how sad it is that we continue to invest money, time, and talent in these red herrings. Imagine the progress we could make if we instead allocated these resources into developing resilient, regionalized, community-based agricultural systems that produce real food and real, tangible improvements to our health, our environments, and our communities. I can't believe I have to say this, but 3D printing soy, pea protein, coconut fat, and sunflower oil into the shape of a steak is not the answer.

Let's take it a little further and look at each of the raw ingredients. Soy is one of the most heavily monocropped commodities. It is also one of the most heavily sprayed (with glyphosate), which also means it is mostly GMO. 77% of global soybean production comes from glyphosate tolerant soybean.

Glyphosate, aka Roundup, has also been in the top selling organic pea protein supplements. Organic produce can pick up glyphosate residue from wind erosion from neighboring non-organic farms. And before you wag a finger at Big Ag, many public parks spray glyphosate, too.

Coconut fat presents a different kind of industrial horror. Namely, demand pressure on coconut products has led to worker exploitation and the destruction of rainforests.

And last, the now almost ubiquitous sunflower oil can be high in omega-6 fatty acids (depending on the type of sunflower oil), possibly contributing to inflammation, and while it has a high smoke point, it is not stable at high temperatures where it oxidizes and releases aldehydes. Not ideal when you want to sear a steak on a hot cast iron or grill to get that nice caramelization from the Maillard reaction.

I may do a more complete write up on plant-based meat ingredients, glyphosate, and cooking oils, so let me know if that's something you'd want to see.

📺 Closing out here with a TV recommendation this time: the South Park episode Let Them Eat Goo is hilarious, and very relevant to the above story of 3D printing plant-based meat. Even if you're not a fan of South Park, they do such a great job satirizing the silly logic behind plant-based burgers, it's definitely worth watching.



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Betting the farm,