Photo: Farm from a Box

What a month! This January I’ve been hopping around from event to event, stopping briefly at home to pack fresh socks and water my plants. First up was CES, the gigantic, robot-filled wonderland (check out The Spoon and our YouTube page for exclusive video content and interviews). Next, I flew south to San Francisco for the Winter Fancy Food show.

Though strolling up and down the rows of vendors armed with samples of everything from pickle juices to CBD chocolates was certainly a dream, my favorite area of the show was the “What’s Next in Food?” exhibit. That’s where I got to meet companies who are trying to find new ways to feed the world in an ethical, environmentally sustainable way. Like Clara Foods, which is using cellular agriculture to make cultured egg whites, or Farm from a Box, which is, well, a company that lets communities grow a 2-acre farm from a single box. It’s nice to leave a conference not only tired and full of cheese samples, but also feeling inspired.

Before heading back to Seattle, I stopped by the inaugural Alternative Protein Show in San Francisco to see what sort of products and manufacturing technologies are going to change the way we eat animal products. One thing that wasn’t on the menu was cell-based (or cultured) meat, which has yet to come to market. At the conference I met Dr. Sandhya Sriram, whose startup Shiok Meats is not only making cell-based shellfish, like lobster, shrimp, and crab — they’re also the first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia. Period. Since the majority of cellular agriculture companies are based in the U.S., Israel, or the U.K., it was really exciting to see this technology expanding to not only new types of meat, but also new areas of the globe.

I left the show for a few minutes to pop by the Creator restaurant and watch their robot make a cheeseburger from start to finish. Here’s a sped-up video if you want to see the burger bot do its thing — it’s pretty amazing.

With burgers on my mind, I went by Carl’s Jr. in downtown SF to take a taste the new Beyond Burger 2.0. While I found that the patty itself was more of a supporting player (like many fast-food burgers are), the new formula is pretty good — my one qualm was the texture, which was a little too chewy for my liking. But the Carl’s Jr. staff told me that the burger was one of their favorite items on the menu, so it’s still a win for alterna-meats.

I’m not the only one smitten with plant-based foods. Chris took a look at his shopping list this week and realized that he is slowly turning vegan(ish), thanks to food tech. It made all of us check our own shopping lists and realize that, huh, we’re all eating more plant-based foods, too. And not just for ethical or environmental reasons, but because they genuinely just taste really good — and are (sometimes) healthier, too.

In other news this week: Delivery continued to expand (we called it), with DoorDash now serving all 50 states and UberEats expanding its Starbucks pilot to more cities. And who better to facilitate all this new food delivery than Starship’s new robotic delivery fleet or Robomart’s new self-driving mobile commerce vehicles?

Speaking of robots, did you hear about Articulate, our food robotics and automation summit in San Francisco on April 16th? We’ll have speakers from Google Brain, Sony, Cafe X, Chowbotics, and much more — Early Bird tickets are on sale now, so get ‘em while they’re hot!

Finally, if you’re in the Seattle area, we’re having our next meetup on January 29th all about The Future of Beer. Join us! Bonus: All attendees get a free beer.

Until Friday,
Catherine

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