字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream. Get access to my streaming video service, Nebula, when you sign up for CuriosityStream using the link in the description. The future of meat is split into two very different paths. One that begins in the windy flats of Kansas, within the manure laden pens of cows fattened on excessive amounts of corn, and another that starts on the squeaky clean dishes of a lab, grown from yeast and modified to mirror the taste of its rival. Each has its environmental impact, but they both reveal certain unpleasant realities in our food system. Industrial factory farming and plant-based meats in many ways have co-evolved in a world that seeks cheap and easy silver-bullet solutions to nuanced food system problems. Ultimately, these two meats are intertwined. And to understand this new wave of plant-based meats, we need to understand the current state of beef farming. So today, I'm going to ask three important questions: what are plant-based meats replacing? What are its impacts? And what does it mean that we are placing our trust in these tech-based meats to fix our food system? So first, the tale of the hamburger. Trace your way back to its humble beginnings, and you'll find yourself in Garden City, Kansas. A town that the author of Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollen, calls Cattle Metropolis. An apt name considering that the city is the birthplace of one of the first CAFOs or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, and now hosts a variety of these CAFOs in and outside its city limits. These feeding operations are part of the reason why the price of hamburger beef can stay so low. They pack a ton of cows in a small area to maximize the profit from the land. To put it simply, the way cows are raised for slaughter on these feedlots is more akin to a factory than a farm, and thus the often-used moniker “factory farm.” After they've met the requisite “entry weight” calves are brought to these feedlots and are forced to subsist on a concoction of corn, protein supplements, and antibiotics until they are around 1,100 pounds or 14-16 months old. Then, they are sent to slaughter. Alongside the variety of animal cruelty concerns directed at concentrated feedlots, several environmental issues arise from stuffing cows in tight quarters, and then, in turn, stuffing their bodies full of vegetation that their stomachs aren't equipped for. One of the major issues for these types of feeding operations is, to put it bluntly, poop. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “large farms can produce more waste than some U.S. cities” claiming that “a feeding operation with 800,000 pigs could produce over 1.6 million tons of waste a year.” For open-air feedlots, often this waste just piles up underneath cattle, and when it rains, runs off into waterways, ultimately causing downstream drinking water pollution in the form of antibiotics and higher levels of nitrates. For indoor factory farms, manure often has to be scooped out, but because it tends to be too antibiotic laden or the specter of diseases like E. Coli persist, farmers refuse to put it on their fields. As a result, operators dump the manure in holding ponds that can overflow if it rains, or pile it high and wait. In addition, the surrounding air quality is greatly affected through an excess of particulate matter, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide, which can cause damage to the lungs and eyes among other symptoms. But the most infamous gas that finds its way into the atmosphere from these corn-fed cows is methane. Cows, quite literally, aren't able to stomach corn. As a result, belching and the decomposition of their manure happens at a much higher level, releasing methane that has caused livestock to account for between 14.5 percent and 18 percent of the world's total yearly emissions. So when we look towards replacing a meat-based system with plant-based alternatives, this is what we're trying to replace. A factory system that churns through cows and externalizes waste onto the surrounding communities and environment. As a response, plant-based retailers have stepped in. They seek to replace beef with what they say is something better. This meat is not born out of the manure-laden feedlots, but instead from the test-kitchens of fancy start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. But what exactly are these beef-like alternatives? And are their impacts actually less than beef? Once again, let's go back to the beginning. In the case of the Impossible Burger, which you can now buy at fast-food chains like Burger King, that beginning centers around engineers, scientists, and huge machines like a mass-spectrometer. This seems like a far cry from the confines of a feedlot. The secret to the Impossible Burgers success is years of research figuring out what makes a hamburger taste like a hamburger and then translating those components into plant-based alternatives. Chief among those is a compound called heme. Essentially this is what makes the Impossible Burger “bleed” and gives it that meaty flavor. Instead of coming from a cow however, the heme Impossible Burgers use originates from the root nodules of a soy plant. Now, to incorporate that heme protein into their burgers on a mass scale they genetically modified a yeast cell to produce the heme at high levels. So, unlike the bean burgers you might make at home, these new vanguards of the plant-based meat world are much less farm-based as they are lab-based. But the results speak for themselves. Impossible Burgers are struggling to keep up with the massive demand and Beyond Meat is currently valued at $7.5 billion with its product available in over 35,000 locations. But, does this growing transition to plant-centric meat have a serious impact on the environment? According to a Beyond Meat sponsored study, it definitely does. The research claims that a Beyond Meat Burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, requires 46% less energy, 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use. These are significant differences. However, it's worth noting that this study is backed by Beyond Meat, and independent studies on the environmental impact of various plant-based meat corporations are needed for true accountability . As these two types of meat continue to butt heads on the public stage, here's what we know. Demand for cheap beef has given rise to an industrial farming system that pollutes the air, water, and earth via the factory-like structure of its corn-fed beef operations. Globally it has also led to significant swaths of deforestation in old-growth forests like the Amazon, clearing the way for more and more cattle operations. In response to this destruction, food-tech startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are proposing a cleaner, more ethical option. But we should be wary of relying on techno-fixes, especially in the food world, to clean up our messes. In many ways, these alternative meats are another example of seeking an easy solution to the complicated problem of climate change. So, in addition to changing how much beef we eat, we also need to change the way we approach our food system and farms. In fact, there are ways to raise cattle that might actually heal the land and sequester carbon dioxide. But they require hard work and planning. Joel Salatin's rotational grazing operation at Polyface farm is a perfect example of this. They continuously move livestock from one field to another to allow for a varied diet, healthy animals, and carbon-absorbing pasture. At the end of the day, alternative solutions like Polyface Farms are not necessarily an indictment of these new food-tech companies, they merely highlight the fact that silver-bullet business solutions don't exist when it comes to climate change. A market-based solution will never single-handedly solve a market-created problem. The only thing that will truly turn this around is doing everything all at once. So yes, that means eating more Beyond Burgers or veggie burgers, but it also means employing other solutions like subsidizing farmers during their transition away from feedlots and towards more environmentally and humanely aligned farming practices. If you're exhausted of hearing my voice and are looking for some really great nature-related documentaries, I'd highly recommend checking out this video's sponsor CuriosityStream. With thousands of documentaries and non-fiction titles spanning topics from artificial intelligence to plastic bag waste, it's hard not to get lost in their library. And If you're interested about learning more about the future of our food system, I'd highly recommend the documentary Farming of the Future. It looks at farming systems like aquaponics and robotic AI that are trying to address a growing demand for food. It's definitely worth a watch if you have the time. 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