Hacking Meat: Changing the Face of U.S. Meat Production

Staff Writer
Researchers, nutritionists, economists, and environmentalists team up to improve the standards of meat production in America

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Hacking Meat is a forward-thinking online movement that seeks to empower eaters by sparking a conversation about a more promising future for meat production.  

A little information about the American meat industry to start: currently Americans consume more than 92 billion pounds of meat per year from nine billion animals, which is more than triple the global average. In order to keep up with this tremendous demand, the industrial meat system has to produce cheap, low quality meat in mass quantities that taxes the air, water, land, and our health.

Environmentalists and nutritionists seem to agree that a systemic change is needed. When Food +Tech Connect, GRACE Communications Foundation, and Applegate teamed up to create the revolutionary Hacking Meat conversation, they envisioned a future of quality over quantity, claiming, “there has never been more interest in disrupting the way that meat is produced.”

Though having “hacking” in its name may lead you to draw connections to criminal behavior, the movement’s title refers to the desire to reconfigure current systems to function in new and better ways.

The ongoing Hacking Meat conversation explores how information and technology can be used to reimagine a more sustainable, profitable, and healthy future for meat production and consumption. The conversation’s participants range from leaders of nonprofit organizations like the Food & Water Watch and Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States to Rob Booz of the Chefs Collaborative.

The Hacking Meat movement supports that because many Americans enjoy eating meat, it is imperative that meat consumption continues in a more sustainable and healthy way. The movement's most recent event occured June 21-23 in Palo Alto, California, during which teams worked with design-thinking facilitators and industry "steakholders" to prototype innovative solutions to the way meat is produced, distributed, sold, and consumed in America. 

Some of the most recent "meaty responses" to the Hacking Meat movement include a wide range of contributors and opinions, from Naithan Jones', the CEO of Aglocal, vision to improve meat transportation and processing and increase access to sustainable meat on the market to a response from Camas Davis, the owner and instructor at the Portland Meat Collective, who hopes that we can make the current online communities and forums more accessible to the "community of meat-minded folk."

Hacking into the way we view meat in America through a continuous dialogue and tweaking meat production to be more sustainable and healthy just may be the compromise that environmentalists and the meat lovers have been searching for. 

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