A San Francisco biotech company is about eight months away from unleashing lab-grown popcorn shrimp into the marketplace with the modest goal of ending slavery and saving the planet, the Atlantic reports.
According to Popular Science, Americans eat 4 billion pounds of seafood annually; a full quarter of that is shrimp. And while shrimp are nutritious and delicious, farmed shrimp that hail from cleared Southeast Asian mangrove forests come with a carbon footprint 10 times larger than that of beef, Tech Insider reports, citing a 2012 study.
Not to mention the fact that the AP recently found shrimp sold everywhere from Whole Foods to Red Lobster to Walmart had been peeled by migrant slaves kept in warehouses in Thailand and prevented from leaving.
That's where marine conservationist Dominique Barnes and materials scientist Michelle Wolf of New Wave Foods come in. The fake shrimp being grown in the New Wave labs are no mere Tofurky.
"We analyzed shrimp on a molecular level to figure out the components," Barnes tells Tech Insider. They broke down red algae—the algae that shrimp eat that give them their flavor and color—and combined that with protein powder from plants.
Barnes tells the Atlantic the process is "similar to baking a loaf of bread." Tech Insider's Ariel Schwartz, an avowed shrimp-lover, tasted New Wave's breaded variety in February and found it "had that springiness and mixture of crunch and chew that you'd expect from the real thing." It also has a similar nutritional value.
Google has already ordered 200 pounds of New Wave's fake shrimp for its cafeterias, and a kosher sushi company is interested. (Want to live longer? Eat like the Japanese.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Lab-Grown Shrimp Are Here to Save the World
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