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BILLION DOLLAR BURGER

Inside Big Tech's Race for the Future of Food

by Purdy, Chase

The trillion-dollar meat industry is one of our greatest environmental hazards; it pollutes more than all the world's fossil-fuel-powered cars. Global animal agriculture is responsible for deforestation, soil erosion, and more emissions than air travel, paper mills, and coal mining combined. It also, of course, depends on the slaughter of more than 60 billion animals per year, a number that is only increasing as the global appetite for meat swells.

But a band of doctors, scientists, activists, and entrepreneurs have been racing to end animal agriculture as we know it, hoping to fulfill a dream of creating meat without ever having to kill an animal. In the laboratories of Silicon Valley companies, Dutch universities, and Israeli startups, visionaries are growing burgers and steaks from microscopic animal cells and inventing systems to do so at scale--allowing us to feed the world without slaughter and environmental devastation.

Drawing from exclusive and unprecedented access to the main players, from polarizing activist-turned-tech CEO Josh Tetrick to lobbyists and regulators on both sides of the issue, Billion Dollar Burger follows the people fighting to upend our food system as they butt up against the entrenched interests fighting viciously to stop them.

The stakes are monumentally high: cell-cultured meat is the best hope for sustainable food production, a key to fighting climate change, a gold mine for the companies that make it happen, and an existential threat for the farmers and meatpackers that make our meat today.

Chase Purdy is a New York-based reporter at Quartz, where he covers the business and politics of food. He began reporting on food issues in 2014 at Politico in Washington, DC. While there, he covered the development and rollout of the US Dietary Guidelines, the meat industry, agricultural lobbying, food safety policy, and the effects of antibiotic use in animal agriculture. Before tackling the food beat, he worked in Virginia and Florida covering an array of topics that include the criminal justice system, immigration, and politics at the state and local levels. His work has appeared in The New York Times, as well as in newspapers across the country.

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