Silicon Valley, 2016. Fortune releases an article about cardiologist turned innovator, Uma Valeti. He's able to make a meatball with new technology, fully grown from real cow and pig cells, without slaughtering a living creature. The cells take about 14 to 21 days to mature in a bioreactor and the price for just a pound of beef comes to $18,000. Groundbreaking is an understatement.
Valeti could've been a successful cardiologist and save about 2,000 lives in the next 30 years, but wanted to do more for the world his children have to grow up in. After several failed attempts in getting his project approved, he finally succeeds and passionately start building his company, Memphis Meats, with a gender-diverse team of environmentalist, bio-medical engineers and tissue-engineers. Business Insider, Huffpost and several podcasts report on his fascinating technological innovation, explaining what impact this all could have on reversing the damage animal agriculture and the meat-industry have caused to the environment.
Let's make one thing clear, this is NOT lab-grown meat. Life tissue samples have millions of cells, this is where Cultivations Systems Engineer, Matthew Leung, explains how they try to understand and use the different components of this tissue to build their product. It's also very important to keep the cells safe from bacteria, without reaching for antibiotics, which has been a problem for decades in the US meat-industry. Canadian filmmaker Liz Marshall's 'Meat The Future' has a lot to say, and does it in a way everyone can understand the importance of this global change in the way we look at meat, while making sure the planet doesn't suffer even more than she already does.
What works so well in this documentary, is the quality and tempo of everything going on on screen. Sure, the overload of informative PowerPoint-slides are there mostly to split up important events in Memphis Meats progress, but the flawless editing helps with taking a bit of a breather from all the information coming at you. There is so much info that keeps building up, but delivers its message loud and clear. As we can see in the film (and surely some of you already know) is that the demand for meat will double by the year 2050, which will make it impossible for the meat-industry to satisfy that hunger.
Unlike other food-documentaries, such as 'Food, Inc.', 'Meat The Future' isn't here to shock you, but predominantly to educate and open your eyes for what's already happening out there. Or as TIME wrote in 2013: "You may think you live on a planet, but really you live on a gigantic farm, occasionally broken up by cities, forests and the oceans." It's when milestones such as the world's first "clean poultry" get announced, billionaire Bill Gates and the largest chicken supplier in the US, Tyson, start to invest in the project, well knowing this is the direction we need to move in.
Some hurdles aside, when US-ranchers want to use the federal government as a proxy to fight high-tech meat companies, the film isn't here to push back against the meat-industry as we know it. The film and its interviewees raise questions around consumer right issues and explores the ethical concerns and the history around "clean meat". Clean, as in cleaner production development and benefits in terms of energy savings. The standpoints raised during a USDA and FDA Joint Public Meeting are interestingly beneficial coming from both sides of the table, covering mostly the pros of this innovative new way of producing cruelty-free meat, which is exciting to see unravel.
Meat The Future is a revolutionary eye-opener that could easily change the way consumers look at food forever, without losing their appetite.
Screened for Doc Edge Festival 2020