‘Fake meat’ approved for school lunches
Washington schools to serve Impossible Burgers next year
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved Child Nutrition Labels for the Impossible Foods company, which produces alternative meat products made of soy and other products, according to Impossible Foods.
The Impossible Foods company provided samples of their artificial “hamburger” patties and artificial “ground beef” products to several schools, including one in Washington State and two in Oklahoma.
Jamie Madisons, the food service director at Aberdeen Schools, Washington, which provides lunches to about 2,000 students per day, said they used the Impossible Foods items for a taste test with their students, and plan to include them as a vegetarian option on their menu for the 2021-2022 school year.
“We used the ground product and burger patty. Impossible Foods donated it,” she said. Madisons said they asked the students afterward whether they enjoyed the product and about half of them said they did.
“Some said it tasted like vegetables, but some said they couldn’t tell the difference,” she said.
Madisons said some of their students are vegetarians and appreciate having a meatless option. They plan to offer the Impossible Burger as an option on the days that the school serves regular hamburgers, and they might use Impossible ground product to provide a meatless option on the days that the school serves ground beef meals like tacos or spaghetti. The Impossible Foods’ meatless alternative will cost about 15 cents more per serving than beef, she thinks. A serving of beef is usually about 2.5 ounces.
The school system is located on the coast of Washington, about an hour from Olympia and two hours from Seattle. Madisons said that they do not have ranchers in their community, although there are some small operators who might raise a few head of cattle or other livestock.
Typically that school system (which includes several schools) serves a beef hamburger once or twice per week and another beef item such as tacos once per week. So they typically serve beef about twice per week. She expects that about a third of the students will choose the meatless option instead of real beef.
An Impossible Foods spokesperson said that the company “exists to address climate change that is the result of the way we make meat today.”
The Impossible Foods website has many pages dedicated to teaching children about artificial meat and to convince them that real meat is destroying the environment by causing climate change. There are pages on their website dedicated to helping children “teach” their parents why fake meat is better for the environment than real meat.
Their website claims “Every time you eat Impossible Burger (instead of beef from a cow), you use: 96 percent less land, 87 percent less water and 89 percent less GHG emissions.”
Their website claims red meat increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer (they claim a meat-eating person is 0.4% more likely to be diagnosed than a non-meat eater). The Impossible Burger contains 19 grams of protein, according to their website.
In a study of rats (they agonized over conducting animal research but… alas, it is an industry standard) they concluded that consumption of the genetically modified heme (a molecule containing iron naturally found in beef, blood, etc) they use to produce Impossible Foods artificial meat does not contribute to cancer.
To clarify, the Impossible Foods items are not lab-grown meat, but are composed of soybeans, binders and other ingredients.
News outlets reported this spring that Bill Gates was an investor in Impossible Foods and other alternative meat companies.
Dr. Patrick O. Brown is the CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods, and a former pediatrician.
The spokesperson said that the company does not intend to “donate” product to schools, but rather to make it available to purchase. She did not know what the price would be, but said they will work with schools on a case by case basis.
Ingredients in Impossible Burger:
soy protein concentrate
additives, including vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin B6, thiamin (B1) and niacin.
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