Today’s focus of ire is this piece originally published in NY Times but thankfully republished on elsewhere (so no paywall.) The author is arguing that we need fully automated…luxury communism?
This is my review of Council Brewing Beattitude Guava Tart Saison
He starts in an odd place and seems to forget how economies of scale are a tenet of capitalism:
It starts with a burger.
In 2008 a Dutch professor named Mark Post presented the proof of concept for what he called “cultured meat.” Five years later, in a London TV studio, Mr. Post and his colleagues ate a burger they had grown from animal cells in a laboratory. Secretly funded by Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, the journey from petri dish to plate had cost $325,000 — making theirs the most expensive meal in history. Fortunately, the results were promising: Hanni Rützler, a nutrition scientist, concluded that the patty was “close to meat but not as juicy.” The next question was whether this breakthrough could be made cheaper. Much cheaper.
The first “cultured beef” burgers are likely to enter the market next year, at approximately $50 each. But that won’t last long. Within a decade they will probably be more affordable than even the cheapest barbecue staples of today — all for a product that uses fewer resources, produces negligible greenhouse gases and, remarkably, requires no animals to die.
It’s not just barbecues and burgers. Last year Just, a leader in cellular agriculture, cut a deal to start producing one of the world’s tastiest steaks, Wagyu. A company called Endless West, which also makes grapeless wine, has started to produce Glyph, the world’s first “molecular whiskey.” Luxury could be coming to all.
The case of cultured food and drink, far from a curiosity, is a template for a better, freer and more affluent world, a world where we provide for the needs of everyone — in style.
But how do we get there?
Thus far, each example he gave was capitalism. Somebody identified a need or a niche in the market that was currently missing: meat products for people that for whatever reason cannot eat meat (personal ethics, religion, medical issues). Whether or not other examples such as “molecular whiskey” may or may not have market demand, remains to be seen. There is however, demand for lab grown meat, give the existence of Beyond Burgers, and the Impossible Burger, but both of these are plant based, therefore not really meat. One thing to point out, these alternatives were also developed for the same reasons, a market niche was unfilled, so each company produced a product to fill it. Beyond in particular uses pea protein but is put through a few processes that mimic the protein structures of meat. It is an elegant solution really, because most meatless meats fail at tasting like meat. More on this later.
The problem of course, is even if they do manage to make something to replace meat, there is still going to be markets for actual meat. Unless of course this guy somehow gets elected dictator and forces his worldview on everyone, which is thankfully unlikely.
Later in the article he goes on to say that resource scarcity and how it will become a thing of the past once we are able to mine all the resources we would ever need from the heavens. Of course, he goes on to describe his misunderstanding of thermodynamics:
What’s more, renewable energy, which has been experiencing steep annual falls in cost for half a century, could meet global energy needs and make possible the vital shift away from fossil fuels. More speculatively, asteroid mining — whose technical barriers are presently being surmounted — could provide us with not only more energy than we can ever imagine but also more iron, gold, platinum and nickel. Resource scarcity would be a thing of the past.
The consequences are far-reaching and potentially transformative. For the crises that confront our world today — technological unemployment, global poverty, societal aging, climate change, resource scarcity — we can already glimpse the remedy.
But there’s a catch. It’s called capitalism. It has created the newly emerging abundance, but it is unable to share round the fruits of technological development. A system where things are produced only for profit, capitalism seeks to ration resources to ensure returns. Just like today’s, companies of the future will form monopolies and seek rents. The result will be imposed scarcity — where there’s not enough food, health care or energy to go around.
Well, I guess that’s one point of view. I kind of doubt we can run our spaceships on wind turbines, and last I checked rationing for healthcare occurs in socialized systems. I would know, I used to work for one of them. You know what, screw it. I’m hungry and I am not paid enough to argue against crazy. I’m getting a burger…
I have tried Beyond products before, due to weird religious rules that I still follow and really don’t care what others here think of that regard. I also considered investing when they went public but instead thought a robotics ETF was a better long term investment (thus far I am wrong…so very wrong). I am unaware of anybody discussing this here, so I am going to find out if somebody else can make a better fake burger than I. But where to find one?
Upfront, I will say it doesn’t really look or smell any different. The one time I tried it at home, it smelled awful out of the package, but that goes away immediately after cooking. I am definitely not happy with how it was prepared, they seem to have burned one side of it, but its fast food. They added mayo, which I am okay with. Just a basic burger thus far.
The fries suck.
My overall opinion is it works well as a hamburger patty. A feature of hamburgers are the toppings you put on it, as such it works in combination with everything on it. Other Beyond products I find have the texture right, but don’t quite taste like chicken. This made perfect sense to me, as it is processed legumes and not chicken. About an hour or two later, I was hungry again. The sausage is slightly better and all of these products are expensive; Carl’s Jr. charged $2 extra for it. But then again, economies of scale will likely drop the price down in the next few years, and it will only come down to personal preference whether or not people will want to eat meat. For now, I will take that over waxing poetic over a show better described as “communists in space” (TW TOS).
This beer is terrible due to the use of guava. Depending on the type of guava you have it can be sweet or sour. This is sour, much more than a garden variety saison. If you are into sour you will probably like this. I however did not, but will give them points for trying. Council Brewing Beattitude Guava Tart Saison 2.0/5