What Is the Future of Meat?
Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail email@example.com.
For many years, meat's been the star attraction of the American plate. But with the world's population increasing, the demand for sustainably raised meat booming, and with an industry in need of serious change, can meat continue to play the same role it always has 20 to 50 years from now?
Phil and Pam Gradwell, Flickr Creative Commons
I picked the brains of Valley chefs and restaurateurs and asked them to do some crystal-ball gazing on the future of meat. Here's what they had to say.
I grow more concerned over our meat supply every day. The feed these animals are eating coupled with the hormones and antibiotics have got to be impacting us. It's also more expensive to source responsibly raised meat, which a lot of customers don't really want to pay extra for at the end of the day.
Meat prices will continue to climb and production will not be able to keep up with demand. In vitro meat (meat grown in a lab) is not fully viable right now, but looks like it could be in the future. There will always be a market for the real thing, though. Once in vitro is viable and economical, it will change how we eat forever.
We are carnivores. Always have been and always will be. Meat will continue to be the focus of every menu.
Meat is here to stay, but I think customers are more interested in how it's produced. We already see leaders like Chipotle emphasizing the sourcing of their meat. At Joe's Farm Grill, we use local natural beef, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken, and wild-caught salmon. These items cost up to twice as much as the commodity versions, yet we must compete with others in the "common food" arena. We are able to do this through system efficiency and the fact that people do care and are willing to pay for it.