Illustration for article titled 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!

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.


Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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