I generally try to avoid most Sunday morning news programs. It’s typically when big wigs in either political party are trotted out to give the latest talking points. And things can get rather heated. Who honestly needs that on a Sunday morning?
I usually have CBS’s Sunday Morning on in the background while I’m doing chores, playing with Mischa, or engaging some mindless app on my phone. It’s more of a feel-good program sans politics. And, honestly, not all that relevant.
But this week was different. It featured this segment about the Impossible Burger. IB is a plant-based burger (not cell-based) that mimics the taste of real meat. How? It uses heme, an iron-rich molecule that gives raw meat a bloody taste. IB combines heme from soybean plants with other plant proteins to create a burger patty that tastes and smells like the real thing. And, yes, it even bleeds.
In a relatively short period of time, IB has gone mainstream. Highly-rated restaurants are now serving it. And even Burger King offers an Impossible Burger whopper. The appeal is easy to appreciate: an allegedly smaller environmental footprint, no actual animals involved, plant-based, and it tastes like meat.
And in a perfect world I think IB has a role to play. The demand for meat continues to grow, especially as China develops a middle class that can afford it. IB could work in tandem with conventional and cell-based meat production to increase supplies without contributing to deforestation and requiring an increase in feed. It could be another option in the grocery store and at restaurants to help us feed the world’s growing population.
But that’s not what Pat Brown wants at all. Brown is the scientist and creator of IB. And he’s pretty blunt about what he hopes to accomplish with his fake meat. In the interview with Sunday Morning, he said this:
CBS: So do you think you’re going to be putting the conventional meat business out of business?
Brown: That’s the whole purpose of Impossible food.
CBS: You want them gone?
Brown: The purpose of Impossible foods is…this industry and this technology is the greatest threat to the future of our planet. Period.
At least he’s totally honest?
I mean, he’s totally wrong about meat being the greatest threat to the future of our planet. Also meat is actually an important part of our diet. And while we need options, real options mean having more than one choice. I don’t want Brown or anyone else to dictate the food I eat.
Brown’s callousness for meat producers is also a huge turn off. Family farms comprise 97% of all farms in the United States, according to the USDA. So Brown essentially wants to end a bunch of family farms in favor of his fake-bleeding burgers. I understand the thirst for money, but that seems over the top.
So Brown’s comments have totally turned me off to IB. I’m going to vote with my dollars and not try one. And I’m going to tell everyone I can that Brown’s real objective is to end thousands of family farms around the country. Because that’s what it means if the “conventional” meat producers are put out of business: family farms shut down. And I’m not going to support a person, company, or product that wants to see that happen.