Fake Meat’s Latest and Greatest
By M.P. Cremer
I’m a little skeptical of a new, innovative startup. I’m positive this is because I binge watched “Inventing Anna,” the story of Anna Sorokin, and “The Dropout,” the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, in the span of a week.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to give people the benefit of the doubt and arguably, I do this too often, but I am weary of the company called Air Protein.
I found Air Protein online after seeing “fake” meat – specifically air-grown meat – highlighted at the Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum. Air Protein Founder and CEO Lisa Dyson presented to the forum’s crowd alongside Beyond Meat Founder, CEO and President Ethan Brown and addressed “Alternative Protein’s Inflection Point.”
Per the Wall Street Journal, this presentation focused on the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on alternative protein.
“Driven by concerns about health and the environment, investors and consumers have poured money into alternatives to animal-based proteins in recent years. During the pandemic, though, some companies in the sector have been challenged by weaker demand. Can the alt-meat trend catch on globally?” the Wall Street Journal penned as the presentation’s overview.
First and foremost, let’s address the fact alternative proteins were a hot topic at the Wall Street Journal’s forum in the first place.
Am I surprised? No. Am I disappointed? Also no, surprisingly.
I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: If it takes fake meat to feed starving children, I’m all for it – what I am not for, is supporting companies who blatantly discredit animal agriculture and falsify research to support their “ag is evil” claims.
It doesn’t so much bother me alternative proteins were discussed at the forum, they should be, they’re technological advances in the food system. It does bother me Ethan Brown was a headline-speaker, as he is on the record saying he wants to abolish animal ag.
At the moment, I can’t find any out-of-line, animal-ag condemning quotes from Lisa Dyson online. In fact, I can barely find anything about Dyson online, which makes me suspicious.
Based on my research, Dyson has an immaculate educational pedigree: PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); master of science in physics and a Fulbright Scholar from the University of London; and also working on projects in bioengineering and physics at Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, the University of California, San Francisco, MIT and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.
Dyson wanted to “find a way to feed us sustainably” after working as a volunteer in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and seeing the devastation caused by such a natural disaster, ultimately leading her to fight for climate change, thus Air Protein was born.
According to Air Protein’s website, Air Protein is made in a simple fermentation process and is comparable to the way yogurt, cheese and wine are made. The cultures produce a protein that is harvested, purified and dried to remove water, creating a flour.
Culinary techniques are applied to said flour to create textures and flavors to mimic traditional meat. Read more about this at airprotein.com.
“We have reimagined and are redesigning how meat can be made – delicious, nutritionally advanced and guilt-free. Air Protein is creating the most sustainable meat on the planet. This is the future of meat,” their website boasts.
All of this sounds well and good; I mean, who wouldn’t want to get behind this? Feeding the world out of thin air sounds pretty great.
However, just as I can’t find much information online about Lisa Dyson, I can’t find much about air meat either – in fact, Google Scholar has zero published research papers on this subject.
Isn’t this funny? Something so groundbreaking; something so food-system changing; something so remarkable in science, and not a single shred of research turns up to support this earth-shattering discovery?
And to put the icing on the air-grown cake, Lisa Dyson sports a plain, black turtleneck in her headshot on the Air Protein website, much like infamous scammer Elizabeth Holmes.
Is this enough to deem Dyson a scammer as well? No, but in my opinion, it’s a hilarious coincidence.
I hope I’m wrong, but as of July 2022, I firmly believe Air Protein is the next big scam. I mean, if Dyson is hitching her wagon to Ethan Brown, a man notorious for referencing false ag statistics, as well as not producing solid, reliable, public research to back up Air Protein, I don’t know how it can’t be a scam.
But what do I know? I’m just a journalist who has maybe watched a little too much TV lately, dedicated her entire professional career to sharing agriculture’s truth and is more than capable of doing a simple Google search to find research to backup too-good-to-be-true claims. I guess I’ll just stick to being curious.