We now have Impossible Burgers!
Dec 17, 2019
Episode 144

We now have Impossible Burgers!

We go beyond heavy hitters like Beyond and Impossible to talk about the whole meat replacement industry. There will be bugs.

In a few short years, artificial “meat” has gone from co-op curio to heavily hyped menu item at giant chains like Dunkin’ and Burger King.

America consumes more meat than any other country — it’s a trillion-dollar market. New widespread awareness of meat eating’s heavy environmental toll has accelerated the race to find a more sustainable alternative.

The heavy hitters you’ve probably heard of are Impossible, which hit a $2 billion valuation during its latest funding round, and Beyond Meat, which went public this year at $1.5 billion. But there’s a lot more to talk about: not just plant-based protein, but new innovations in lab-grown meat and, yes, edible insects.

Here to help us sort through this exploding industry is Larisa Rudenko, a research affiliate in the Program on Emerging Technologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She walks us through what’s out there, how to sell it to mainstream America and where this is all headed.

Plus, Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood are doing an alternative protein taste test of their own.

A plate of Christmas cookies, some of them made using "cricket flour" for additional protein.
Can you tell which Christmas cookies were made with cricket flour?
That is, flour made from ground-up crickets. It’s a real good protein source!
(Steven Byeon/Marketplace)

Later in the show, we’ll answer a listener question about what’s more environmentally friendly, buying an artificial Christmas tree or cutting down a live one each year.

By the way, this is our last show before we go on break for the holidays. But don’t worry — for the next three weeks, we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite interviews of the year, tallying up just how prescient we were with our 2019 predictions and offering new ones for 2020.

We’ll also have new daily Alexa explainers and email newsletters all through the holidays. Subscribe here, and check out last week’s issue if you missed it.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.

It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.

Donate any amount to become a Marketplace Investor and help make us smarter (and make us smile!) every day.

The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer