The future of our food could include less meat if technology has its way. In a three-day Meat Hackathon event in New York City last week, entrepreneurs, technology enthusiasts, farmers, software developers, butchers and other food industry notables gathered together to brainstorm ideas on how to answer the issue of meat supply and consumption in the future.

According to Gigaom there are reasons beyond animal welfare to find meat alternatives. Americans alone consumed 92.3 billion pounds of animals in 2011 and if the rest of the world follows suit, we’ll have a big problem on our hands in finding animals to butcher.

“There are also big environmental and health concerns in industrial meat production, from the run-off and greenhouse gases emanating from toxic manure to the antibiotics used to keep livestock upright,” writes Kevin Fitchard.

Solutions from Food+Tech Connect suggest offering less meat and more flavor with the following potential opportunities:

  1. Foodpairing – Foodpairing is a source of inspiration that allows chefs, bartenders, and others in the food industry to create new combinations of ingredients for dishes or drinks. Foodpairing is not based on intuition or existing recipes, but on science, providing an objective overview of possible pairings.
  2. Add ingredients that support the flavor of the aged meat
  3. Replace meat by combining ingredients covering the same flavor profile – The flavor molecules of an ingredient are not unique to that specific ingredient which means that there are a variety of flavor molecules that can mimic key flavor molecules found in meat.

As we strive to find a healthier and more sustainable way to feed the world’s need for meat, science is continuing to seek solutions. This may also lead to artificial meat creation which may not sit well with already concerned consumers.

Testing these solutions on the mass market may prove to be a challenge. How many die-hard carnivores will be willing to forgo their evening steak or morning bacon and eggs in favor of an alternative that focuses on flavor instead of meat itself?


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