I recently ordered a fast food meal. To most, this probably isn't a big deal, but to me, it was surreal. It had been well over a decade.
I literally didn't know how to order, I felt like a fool.
Here is the story of how I got to this point and what an impossible journey it was.
Like a lot of things in life, the intersection of two fairly minor things caused a major thing to occur:
I was asked to be part of the annual conference of the Sustainable Farmers Association in Minnesota on February 8th (come watch!). The topic of the panel is scheduled to be "Keeping Meat on the Menu" - specifically talking about the pros/cons of meat alternatives. This forced me to really think about the Impossible Burger that was gaining so much media attention.
Before I was a TC Farmer, my job was a consultant for heavy industry. I worked at power plants or refineries all over North America to help make them safer, more efficient and generally support the growth of our economy.
My last client before I semi-retired to start up TC Farm asked if I'd come back for a short project this winter. Since I'd get to basically live in California for a few months during a cold MN winter, I was all ears!
Here I am working at a Geothermal Power Plant before starting TC Farm
I decided that on my drive to California, I would stop at a Burger King and try the Impossible Whopper, a plant based burger being sold by the fast food chain.
Did it really taste like "meat"? Was it good?
First the good things:
It tasted fine. I doubt I would have noticed the difference from a regular Whopper. If you or someone you know is eating regular fast food burgers, I'd highly recommend eating the Impossible Whopper instead. In comparison to even the best hamburger you can find at pretty much any restaurant or grocery, the Impossible Whopper is going to be WAY better for the environment. Hands down.
For clarity, the conventionally grown and massively processed Impossible or Beyond Meat burgers are NOT good for the environment. It is just less 'bad'.
I still will agree with them that the vast majority of "local'"and "happy" beef is significantly worse. Most of that marketing you see at natural food stores? It is just greenwashing.
If those "local farms" don't publicly share their full standards, it is probably safe to assume that the modern veggie burgers are notably better for the environment - no matter how fancy the store is that sells it.
Now the not so good:
While I understand that TC Farm hamburger can be sometimes be inconsistent in flavor, I usually find myself happy to eat plain browned hamburger with a bit of salt and maybe some thyme. Even eating parts of the Impossible Whopper by itself to avoid all of the excessive bread felt really 'flat' to me.
It was food.
I was hungry.
Thanks to the 1700 calories, I didn't have to eat for many hours on my drive. But that's about it.
I didn't feel nourished.
I didn't feel connected to nature.
I was simply full.
Walking by the cooling towers over a decade ago....