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Turns Out Lab-Grown Meat Isn’t Much Better Than Conventional Meat, a Study Says

Plus, a San Jose Starbucks unionizes and more Bay Area food intel

This Lab-Grown Meat Startup Is Cutting Straight to the Steak Getty Images
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

For all its (relative) good intentions, it seems cultured meat companies aren’t quite the saviors they are meant to be. A study by the University of California, Davis, found that lab-grown meat “is probably 25 times more energy intensive than traditional beef in its current form,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The meat-making process creates cultured meat in bioreactors using animal cells, but the nutrients and ingredients used to feed the cells need to be purified at a pharmaceutical grade, the paper explains, which requires an intensive amount of energy. Already companies are trying to fix this by using food-grade materials — rather than pharmaceutical — which can use anywhere from 80 percent less to 27 percent more energy, depending on the methods of production.

Although the study has not yet been peer-reviewed or published, the authors found that in comparison to plant-based meat alternatives, cultured meat will always be more energy intensive because meat cells need more energy to grow than plants. Still, cultured meat does save animals from being slaughtered, and uses less land and water, comparatively.

San Jose Starbucks location to unionize

A Starbucks in San Jose is the latest Bay Area coffee shop to unionize, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports. With a unanimous vote on Friday, May 19, Starbucks employees at 1388 The Alameda approved becoming a union with Workers United. The move to unionize was reportedly due to safety concerns after an altercation between an unhoused person and an employee led to three workers being fired. This is the 24th Starbucks location in California to unionize.

Supreme Court says California is on its own with foie gras law

Foie gras is banned from being sold in California, but it looks like would-be challengers to the rule have reached a dead end. Canadian duck and goose farmers sued the state over the law and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, but the court declined to get involved on Monday, May 22, the Associated Press reports. What this means is that a trial court’s dismissal of the case remains in place and foie gras will continue to be banned. Technically, Californians can still purchase out-of-state foie gras for consumption, but restaurants and stores in the state are not allowed to sell or give the product away.

Besharam and Hilda and Jesse chefs collab on a one-night-only dinner

Heena Patel of Besharam and Kristina Liedags Compton of Hilda and Jesse are teaming up for a dinner on Wednesday, May 31. The vegetarian Color Dinner has both chefs creating a four-course, family-style menu together with dishes meant to “showcase their interpretations of each shade,” according to a press release. Guests will receive an artist-designed placemat that can be colored throughout the meal. Tickets are $150, and reservations and more information on the menu can be found via Resy.

Celeb sighting at Luce

The group at Luce seems happy with a dinner visit from singer-songwriter Goapele and her mother this past weekend. The team shared photos on Instagram of Goapele at the restaurant, saying it was a treat to have her in to try the new menu.