Silicon Valley’s still trying to ‘solve’ dinner 

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If laboratory-grown meat, eggs made from mung beans, and crickets are shattered into a powdery sound that will appeal to you, you will love the next 20 years. If not, well, you have time to come around.

Food technology starters in Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco are trying to take advantage of the popularity of meal replacement liquids like meatless burgers like Soylent and Impossible Foods.

Everything promises healthy and vegetarian sustainable nutrition. The potential prizes are enormous. Fitch estimates that the global meat industry, which accounts for about one-third of the calories people burn, is valuable. Over $ 1.3 trillion..

Destroying meat means finding the right plant-based protein. Some start-ups use algae. The algae are abundant, but the taste is not very good. Prime Roots makes “bacon” and “chicken” using a fungus called Jiuqu. Insect protein bars are already on sale. Peas protein is also popular and is made of yellow peas rather than the green muddy variety. Of the more than 400,000 plants on the planet, up to 30,000 are edible, so the experiment should be praised. Only about 200 It is the staple food of the human diet.

The real hurdle is to persuade consumers to change their diet. When I drank pea milk at a vegan Los Angeles cafe, I was able to confirm that it had an acquired taste. However, algae and pea are certainly less unpleasant than slaughterhouses and factory livestock.

Larissa Zimberoff, author Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley’s mission to change what we eatHe points out that converting foods that are not consumed on a regular basis into packaged foods is not new.Quorn made of fungus Mycelium, Has been around for decades. Also note the success of the plant-based “milk” currently sold at Starbucks and Pret a Manger.

However, the modern obsession with alternative foods can be traced back to 2014, when engineers served as engineers. Rob Reinhardt Launched Meal Replacement Powder Soylent in Los Angeles. That same year, Huel and Mana created their own nutritional powders in the UK and Europe.

Soylent and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz Google Ventures Pitch was a liquid fuel for technicians who were too busy to sit at lunch. For a few dollars, each serving provides about 400 calories and 26 vitamins and minerals, as well as recommended fat and fiber tolerances. When I joined FT’s San Francisco office, the Soylent bottle in the fridge was as close to the tech industry as virtual reality headsets were piled up on a desk. was.

Novelty is often accompanied by contempt. Magazines are asking writers to “survive” on a nutritional powder diet.The tech blog The Verge is called Soylent “Nutrition sludge”. Compared to SlimFast, the sway of weight loss in the 1990s.

The name is certainly strange. Soylent, the portmanteau of soybeans and lentils, is the name of the futuristic food in science fiction novels of the 1960s.With movie adaptation Soylent Green, This substance was made from humans. (Huel, which stands for human fuel, doesn’t sound very good.) Still, the implications of skepticism and dystopia do not do much harm to the company. Soylent quickly became popular and had a 10-week waiting list. And the bottles are now on Walgreens and CVS shelves alongside Gatorade and Dr. Pepper. In England Huel plans to publish..

When FT interviewed Soylent founder Reinhardt in 2016, he said he wasn’t trying to eliminate eating for joy. He wanted to replace the unconscious dinner of junk food and the night when people skipped meals altogether and were too tired to cook. Under its new boss, Demir Wangerov, Soylent is more inclined to this idea. It is now advertised as an energy drink, not as a way to cut food. It’s more like a protein shake than a meal.

Still, highly processed foods are not suitable for everyone. For those who don’t want to eat mold or cultured meat Startup SquareEat There is a solution. The Florida-based company is raising money to sell thick squares that vacuum-pack mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other foods to deliver to the door. The future of food may be crickets and cubes.

Elaine Moore is FT’s Deputy Lex Editor.

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