Get with the (cultured meat) times by evolving in vitro with Yuval Yancovitch
With 7.9 billion people and counting, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations predicts that by 2050, food supply needs to grow by 70% in order to accommodate the global population. In a climate challenged world, it seems impossible to meet this demand while maintaining sustainability standards; the global meat industry alone accounts for 14.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. An environment and animal-friendly alternative to this conundrum has presented itself in the form of in-vitro, lab-grown meat — but how do we begin to accept it? Yuval Yancovitch, a recent industrial design graduate from the Holon Institute of Technology, Israel, sought to answer just this.
Currently working in the food technology industry, cultured meat piqued her interest. Evolving In Vitro is a project centered around the consumption of cultured meat. Yuval widens the scope of cultured meat from its focus on the final product and stretches it across the process of creating and consuming meat, from the lab to the plate. “Cultured meat is created by taking stem cells from farming and just growing them in the right environment which supports them and then they become muscle tissues until they become the traditional meat that we are all familiar with. But unlike the traditional animal farming that we know, this process takes out the harm and the damage that current meat production is causing. My project actually presents this technology by showing four different meat products, each one of them providing a different eating experience with different scenarios.” For this project, she’s specifically concentrated on creating “meat products” from shrimp, bone marrow, ribs and fish.
Her project started with creating 3D printed scaffolds with the vision of producing a deliverable for scientists to make it easier to integrate cultured meat into society. “I think it has a more functional purpose because the scaffold is something that we have to use while producing cultured meat. It is one of the more interesting things in cultured meat production and I think lots of companies now are trying to explore and seek alternatives to this scaffold, or to make it from other materials.” She developed guidelines for the scaffolds by consulting with scientists in Tel Aviv, a city that is a pioneer in the field of food technology. “I was trying to understand scaffold production. One of the main structures I needed was the broad structure that has holes in it, very tiny holes that you actually cannot see. So in 3D printing, we can make the holes in such a way in order for the meat to grow inside the cells, to grow to be a tissue. The scaffold actually determines the 3D shape that the outcome will tend to be. The meat will grow in it, and the scaffold also integrates itself inside the experience.”
Despite being speculative, the strength of Yuval’s project lies in the fact that it focuses on the transition from farm-grown meat to lab-grown meat. Instead of presenting a futuristic product, she’s focused on creating meat products that are familiar, making it less alien to transition into a sustainable future. “I was fascinated by the opportunities, just to speculate about future food systems. As a designer, we can create innovative food products that are not only healthy but create a positive experience for consumers.” From a sociological perspective, she believes that taking away the aspects of environmental and ethical damage from the process of producing meat will in itself make it a lot more appealing for people to adopt.
“The biggest challenge for us today is to feed 10s of billions of people by 2050. It is impossible to do that using the traditional meat production that we have. I think that the potential benefit of cultured meat is not only to protect animals but also to slow down one of the most polluted industries we created as human beings. It’s important to accelerate and develop this technology towards eco-friendly and sustainable meat production”— Yuval Yancovitch
Read the whole article written by Ruben Baart from Next Nature Network here. And come visit the Supermarket of the Future in the Embassy of Food during Dutch Design Week 2021, where Yuval’s prototypes and stories are on show.
This interview came about as part of the Embassy of Food 2021, one of the World Design Embassies. Curators Annelies Hermsen and Chloé Rutzerveld researched seven projects within seven themes and interviewed designers about technology, food waste, health, education, protein transition, non-food and packaging. Ruben Baart of Next Nature Network turned the interviews into articles.
The Embassy of Food is made possible in part by the DOEN Foundation, Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Albert Heijn and the Dutch Design Foundation.