Yesterday, I ate duck a l’orange in a kitchen where Julia Child once taught. But this was duck grown directly from cells – not from breeding, raising, and slaughtering animals. Next, I moved on to some fried chicken (also slaughter-free).
This was courtesy of the Bay Area startup Memphis Meats, which has just become the first company in history to produce clean poultry: a milestone for the clean meat industry.
Alongside Good Food Institute Senior Scientist Christie Lagally, the Memphis Meats team, and CEO Dr. Uma Valeti’s family (Valeti’s daughter had made a specific request for fried chicken), I was able to taste the future.
And I went back for seconds.
During the reveal of these new products, I was wondering what the team that sent Apollo 11 to the moon felt like as the rocket lifted from the launch pad – or what was going through Henry Ford’s mind just before he unveiled the first Model T.
I'm left to wonder; but Uma Valeti, M.D., knows.
He knows what it feels like to do something that has never been done – to do something with the potential to change the trajectory of human history. By producing clean meat, Memphis Meats has sounded the death knell for factory farming, along with the devastation this outdated system has wrought on our environment and public health.
“This is a significant technological leap for humanity and an incredible business opportunity—to transform a giant global industry while contributing to solving some of the most urgent sustainability issues of our time,” Dr. Valeti said to the small gathering of tasters, journalists, and Memphis Meats’ closest supporters.
In the same kitchen that has hosted culinary icons including Julia Child, James Beard, and Alice Waters, GFI advisor Chef Derek Sarno cooked the world’s first clean poultry two ways: a fried chicken dish over collard greens and mashed potatoes, and a classic duck a l'orange.
Both dishes were remarkably flavorful. I spotted a Wall Street Journal reporter going back to finish the last bite from one of the official tasting plates after it had been cleared. I was jealous that she got there first.
In the near future, this won’t be a product people have to fight over, even though chicken is the most widely consumed meat in America. Finding slaughter-free, clean chicken will be the norm in grocery stores and restaurants the world-over.
“Chicken and duck are at the center of the table in so many cultures around the world, but the way conventional poultry is raised creates huge problems for the environment, animal welfare, and human health,” Dr. Valeti told me. “We aim to produce meat in a better way, so that it is delicious, affordable and sustainable.”
Well you nailed delicious, Dr. Valeti—bravo!
Just as the Model T made traveling from state-to-state by horse and buggy a thing of the past, clean meat will soon make factory farming a relic – and certainly not one that people will look back on fondly.
To learn how GFI is working to bring clean meat to market, read up on what we do!