Fresh Take: Lab-Grown Meat Doesn’t Address Economic Problems Around Food

Food & Drink

Lab-grown meat doesn’t address economic problems around food. That’s one of eight points I made in my feature from earlier this week on what you need to know about lab-grown meat, and I’d like to dig into it further here.

Consider the looming hunger crisis in America—with 40 million hungry and millions more finding it difficult to access healthy foods. But when it comes to cell-based meat, some investors are acknowledging that the price to produce these foods is too high, and may never come down enough. So much so that they are investing only in the super high-end versions of cell-based meat, like no-kill ribeyes, tenderloins and lobster tails that will sell for higher prices than chicken nuggets or burgers made from cells. The vast majority of people wouldn’t spend $50 on a lab-grown burger, but might be persuaded to spend that on a ribeye. That means this technology is being funded and scaled up mainly for the wealthiest.

That’s a future that Lejjy Gafou, CEO of publicly traded Canadian company CULT Food Science Corp. who is also on the board of cell-based meat nonprofit New Harvest, doesn’t want to let happen. Gafou has worked in the emerging industry for the past decade, investing in 19 companies through CULT after cofounding his own growth serum startup, but he spent most of his early life living in poverty on a farm in Canada’s Southern Alberta region. The lasting sting of food insecurity still sticks with him.

“I had my hands in the dirt, weeks at a time without proper food. We really just had to eat what we grew,” says Gafou. “Food accessibility is a huge part about it being sustainable. This is a powerful way to make food when it is going to get harder and harder.”

That’s a crucial perspective, and I’ll be thinking about it as I nosh on, well, whatever I can find at family barbecues this weekend. Wishing you a nourishing holiday weekend!

— Chloe Sorvino, Staff Writer

Order my book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat, out now from Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.

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Field Notes

I’m back from two glorious weeks in Cape Cod with some good news to report: I have secured a new scallop source that I am very excited to share. These scallops, which I prepared for a raw crudo, come from the Wellfleet-based family-owned boat F/V Isabel and Lilee—find them at the Orleans and Bass River farmer’s markets.

Thanks for reading the 77th edition of Forbes Fresh Take! Let me know what you think. Subscribe to Forbes Fresh Take here.

Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture as a staff writer on the enterprise team at Forbes. Her book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat, published on December 6, 2022, with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. Her nearly nine years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in northern France.

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