Food & Technology 2019: From Plant-based to Lab-grown explores the tensions at the cutting edge of food technology from the consumer point of view. As more consumers than ever question the health, ethical, and environmental implications of animal products, innovative plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are taking the packaged food world by storm.
Along with up-and-coming technologies like lab-grown meat and cellular dairy, this growing sector is having a moment in the limelight. However, the glare of the spotlight often hides the fact that many of these products and technologies ask consumers to confront a significant cultural tension between their desire to retain some of the experience of eating meat and dairy and their desire to eat foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
The best replacements are often the result of the most sophisticated scientific and technological innovation in food production — hardly consumers’ definition of “natural.” In this report, we explore this tension and its implications for the future of the American plate.