Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Factory food?

 From a thread by George Monbiot

People object to precision fermentation on the grounds that it would take production of protein-rich foods out of the countryside and into factories. It would. But please remember that almost all the meat you eat has already been taken out of the countryside and into factories.


So-called free range chickens

The horror of factory pigs

These factories are places of horror, both astonishingly cruel and highly polluting. We are in massive denial about them. We like to imagine that our meat and eggs are produced in fields. Only a tiny proportion is.

And this tiny proportion tends to be even more damaging than factory farming, which, for all its horrors, is more efficient in its use of land and other resources. Never forget those two great neglected issues: ecological opportunity cost and carbon opportunity cost.

Anyway, even “pasture-fed” and “free range” animals end up in the factory: the slaughterhouse and the packing plant. In life, they are seldom detached from the factory, requiring equipment, materials and often supplementary feed produced there.

I want us to recognise the reality of where our food comes from, and the huge burden of cruelty, destruction and brutalisation required to produce and eat it. I want us to see past the bucolic myths and comforting falsehoods that surround this industry.

The factory is the logical outcome of any drive towards efficiency. Labour efficiency, land efficiency, resource efficiency. No form of efficiency is in all respects good, but the same goes for inefficiencies, which tend to be particularly problematic in environmental terms.

We can harness the efficiencies of the factory while shedding the cruelty and destruction, by *brewing* protein-rich foods instead of raising them in the form of animal flesh and animal secretions.

The potential savings in terms of land, water and nutrients of the switch from farming animals to farming microbes are so enormous that they could make the difference between the collapse of our life support systems and their perpetuation.

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