Meat industry embraces protein alternatives
Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest meat processor, announced Monday that they have invested an undisclosed amount for a five percent stake in Beyond Meat, a company that makes meat alternatives from plant protein (The New York Times, “Tyson Foods, a Meat Leader, Invests in Protein Alternatives,” 10.10.2016). Despite selling part of their stake to the meat giant, Beyond Meat will continue to be an independent company (Nasdaq, “Beyond Meat and Tyson Foods Announce Investment Agreement,” 10.10.2016).
Based in El Segundo, CA, Beyond Meat seeks to alter the modern diet by advancing the market in Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), varying the vegetables used and attempting to better emulate the texture of meat (MIT Technology Review, “The Problem with Fake Meat,” 03.31.2015). Just this past year, the company began selling their “Beyond Burger,” a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and GMO free patty that they claim “[l]ooks, cooks and tastes like fresh ground beef” (Beyond Meat).
Other companies have indicated interest in Beyond Meat’s products, including General Mills and Whole Foods Market, which has been selling the burgers alongside animal meats in-store. Beyond Meat raised $17 million last year from private and public investors, including The Humane Society of the United States and Bill Gates (Nasdaq).
Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat Ethan Brown sees his company as a forerunner in answering global health and sustainability, but he insists they remain committed to animal welfare. In response to the decision to sell some stake to Tyson, Brown said, “This investment by Tyson Foods underscores the growing market for plant protein. I’m pleased to welcome Tyson as an investor and look forward to leveraging this support to broaden availability of plant protein choices to consumers” (Nasdaq).
Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association Michele Simon qualified that there is much to learn about this agreement. She explained, “The most positive view is that this means the meat industry is shifting away from animal meat to plant-based meat, but I don’t think we know that’s the case yet—it could also be a way of distracting attention from their industrial meat business” (The New York Times).
—Zander Bashaw, Senior Editor
Hurricane Matthew desolates Caribbean, U.S.
Although Hurricane Matthew has long dissipated, its devastating aftermath is being felt across the Southeastern United States and Caribbean islands. At least 36 people have been killed as a result of the storm, including 17 in North Carolina alone (The Weather Channel, “Hurricane Matthew Kills at Least 36 in US; Deadly Flooding Continues in North Carolina,” 10.11.2016). It was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in October 2015.
The hurricane originated off the coast of Africa on Sept. 22. It intensified into a hurricane on Sept. 29 and swept across the Caribbean Sea, towards the southeastern United States (The Weather Channel, “Where Hurricane Matthew Came From and How Long We’ve Been Tracking the Monster Storm,” 10.07.2016).
Governmental entities across North America took proactive measures. In Jamaica, schools and government offices were preemptively closed, while all fishermen on the country’s cays were ordered to evacuate back to the island’s interior. By early October, Florida and North Carolina declared states of emergency, while South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley recommended residential evacuation for citizens living within 100 miles of the state’s coastline. 13 counties in Georgia also declared a state of emergency.
In the United States, towns from central Florida to Virginia are struggling with population displacement, power outages and widespread property damage. For example, in Florida, around one million people lost power. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, around 900 people had to be rescued by boat crews on the morning of Oct. 9. Aid organizations and government agencies continue to work on repairing infrastructure and promoting public health and safety (The Weather Channel, “Hurricane Matthew Recap: Destruction From the Caribbean to the United States,” 10.10.2016).
Hurricane Matthew ravaged Caribbean nations as well. Before the hurricane began it was projected that, in Haiti alone, 55,107 internally displaced persons were at risk of having to stay in camps or other housing settlements without proper protection from the hurricane. The results thereafter were devastating. As a result of the hurricane, around 50,000 Haitian people were left without access to clean water or proper shelter. (ActionAid, “Hurricane Matthew in Haiti: ActionAid’s Response,” 10.07.2016).
—Nick Barone, Opinions Editor