Aleph Farms, an Israeli startup, is shaping the future of food by producing cell-grown, slaughter-free meat identical to traditional free-range meat.
Problems with Traditional Meat
Traditional meat poses a giant threat to the environment. A single cow can drink 50-100 gallons of water each day depending on the heat, and it takes 683 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk. Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce about 500 million tons of manure each year, which is many times more excrement than the entire country’s population. Because there are no animal sewage processing plants, it is most often stored in waste lagoons or gets sprayed over fields. Runoff from factory farms is one of the leading causes of pollution in our rivers and lakes, and bacteria or viruses can be carried by the runoff to contaminate groundwater causing inflammatory, immune, irritation, and neurochemical problems in humans.
On top of that, using land to grow crops for animals is very inefficient. It takes almost 20 times more land to feed animals than it does to feed humans. According to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, it takes up to 10 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and in the United States alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow animal feed, while only 4 million acres are producing plants for humans to eat.
How is it made?
Cell-grown meat, also known as clean meat, is animal meat grown in a clean, controlled setting and involves taking a sample of animal cells to cultivate them outside the body. 4 main types of cells form meat: support cells, fat cells, blood vessel cells, and muscle cells. Usually, clean meat’s applications are limited to ground meat because it’s only grown with one or two types of cell tissue. However, Aleph Farms uses all 4 types and places them on a complex proprietary 3D “scaffolding” platform in order for them to grow together into a finished product that mimics traditional meat in taste, smell, texture, and structure. The entire process only takes 3 weeks to complete, whereas traditional meat production takes up to 2 years and must go through multiple steps, breeding – feedlot – transportation – slaughter – processing, and use tons of resources in order to get the final product.
At the moment, the size of Aleph Farms steaks are limited to a length and width of a few inches and thickness of a few centimeters, but attempts are being made to create bigger and better cuts of meat using vacant cell walls of plants as scaffolding. Still, commercially available steaks are at least a couple years away.
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