A new California-based food technology company called Wild Type recently raised $3.5 million in investment capital to develop lab-grown salmon! The brand was founded by Justin Kolbeck, who formerly worked as a United States diplomat in Afghanistan, and Cardiologist Aryé Elfenbein, MD, PhD.
The $3.5 million investment round, led by Spark Capital, will go towards developing lab-grown salmon that can be used for sushi, as well as lox. Funding will also go towards building new technologies to grow meat across species, not just salmon, by multiplying basic animal cells in a lab and culturing the meat. To ensure the viability of their product, chefs regularly test Wild Type. “We wanted to make sure we were building something that people would love, so from day one we reached out to friends in the food business,” said Kolbeck.
With the world’s population set to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, we simply won’t be able to sustain more people eating a diet high in animal products. Clean meat, such as Wild Type, can provide a viable alternative to factory farming.
This is fantastic news considering salmon are one of the most vulnerable species on the planet. The average American consumes two pounds of salmon a year, with around two-thirds coming from farmed sources in China, Norway, and Canada. Around 40 percent of all fish consumed annually are raised on aquafarms, land or ocean-based equivalents to factory farms where fish are raised in a highly intensive manner.
When these farms are put in the ocean, it can create horrible environmental outcomes. Farms concentrate thousands of fish in an enclosed space and a ton of waste is produced and emitted into the marine ecosystem. This waste breeds bacteria that consume oxygen, creating low-oxygen zones that can lead to dead zones. Aquaculture fish are also treated with pesticides and antibiotics, which are then also directly put into the marine environment, causing harm.
While fish farming may solve the problem of scarcity for human consumption purposes, the decline in salmon populations also impacts other species, such as orcas, who rely on salmon as their food source. Over-fishing, habitat degradation, and diseases spreading from salmon farms are leading to a decline in fish stocks in the Pacific Northwest. This is a serious concern for the Pacific Northwest resident orcas who specialize in foraging for salmon species. Without enough food to eat, orcas have been found washed up on the shore as a result of starvation.
According to a study conducted and published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 80 percent of global fish stocks are “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” Knowing this, companies like Wild Type couldn’t come a moment sooner as we desperately need to shift our broken food system to one that is sustainable. For more information on Wild Type, check out their website.
For more impactful stats like these and to learn how you can help the environment with your food choices, check out the new #EatForThePlanet book.
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