The cover of last week’s Memphis Flyer had startup written all over it. Literally. The cover story was about Memphis Meats, a biotech startup that has figured out how to grow real, actual meat in a lab versus on a farm. On paper, the case for cultured meat is strong: It takes fewer resources to make than, you know, raising and then butchering animals, and it’s cleaner, too—since the meat is created in a sterile environment, there’s no risk for cross-contamination. Of course, meat grown in a lab could be a turnoff to meat-eaters.
But as one of the founders, Uma Valeti, pointed out: “There’s nothing natural about chickens being grown six to seven times larger and faster than in nature. There’s nothing natural about packing 1,000 pigs in a feces-filled barn and pumping them with antibiotics. There’s nothing natural about growing turkeys to be so top-heavy they cannot stand up to breed. We need to rethink what is considered natural and not natural.”
It was a very interesting article, and I hope they succeed, but I couldn’t help but think one thing while reading the article: Why did they pack up and go to Silicon Valley? Did they ever consider Memphis? If not, why? And if so, why did San Francisco win? Here’s a tip to the city of Memphis—find out the answers to these questions.
In this same issue of the Flyer, an editorial talks about the vibrancy of Memphis’ entrepreneurial ecosystem and large population of Millenials who are loving the Bluff City. That’s great news and all, but there seems to be a disconnect between what we say is happening and what is actually happening when there’s a company called Memphis Meats doing really big things in San Francisco right now.