Scientists will grow giant slabs of meat from mushrooms

Photo: Betka82, vvmich (iStock)

The frontiers of fake meat are expanding so quickly, we can barely keep up: In the past month alone, we’ve had Impossible Whoppers, 3D-printed beef, and Incogmeato. Now scientists from the Atlast Food Co in upstate New York say they have figured out a way to build entire cuts of fake meat—steaks, chicken breasts, bacon!—from “meaty scaffolds” made from fungi.

Fake-meat companies have so far produced only burgers and nuggets from extruded wheat, soy, or peas. Atlast is a division of Ecovative, a company that has until now has produced only packaging, clothing, and skincare from mycelium, the threads that make up the “root” of a mushroom. Atlast is looking for a plant-based meat company to partner with. Together they hope take over the meat world!

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Atlast’s executive director of marketing, Andy Bass, described the technology to the site Food Navigator as “programmable mushrooms.” It’s possible to grow “gourmet sheets” of meat in a variety of flavors and textures; each one takes about nine days. The mycelia Atlast uses come from edible mushrooms; after the sheet of meat is grown, manufacturers can slice it into different shapes and add flavor, fat, and extra protein. The material is versatile: it can also be used for snacks, and Atlast is experimenting with crispy pizza dough. In a letter posted to Atlast’s website, the company’s CEO promises new foods produced by its “mycelium foundry.” Mushrooms have never before sounded so metal.

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Aimee Levitt

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.