Vegetable Eggs

by on May 12, 2014 at 10:08 am in Economics, Food and Drink, Religion | Permalink

Technology Review: Hampton Creek’s CEO, Josh Tetrick, wants to do to the $60 billion egg industry what Apple did to the CD business. “If we were starting from scratch, would we get eggs from birds crammed into cages so small they can’t flap their wings, shitting all over each other, eating antibiotic-laden soy and corn to get them to lay 283 eggs per year?” asks the strapping former West Virginia University linebacker. While an egg farm uses large amounts of water and burns 39 calories of energy for every calorie of food produced, Tetrick says he can make plant-based versions on a fraction of the water and only two calories of energy per calorie of food — free of cholesterol, saturated fat, allergens, avian flu, and cruelty to animals. For half the price of an egg.

At present, Hampton Creek is focusing on finding vegetable proteins than can substitute for eggs in cakes, salad dressings, mayo and so forth rather than replacing the over-easy at the diner. As with in-vitro meat, however, vegetable eggs pursued for economic reasons will end up greatly supporting the 21st movement for vegetarianism.

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

So, since when did any vegetarian (apart from adherents of strict versions of Jainism and Buddhism) have any problem with eggs? Or will we be reading (maybe in six months from Prof. Cowen) about how improved versions of margarine are also part of this upcoming wave of change?

The benefits of replacing eggs with vegetable substitutes has nothing to do with vegetarianism or eating meat, per se.

Alex Tabarrok May 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

The problem is not with eating eggs but with making them, as the quote indicates.

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

Quite true – I read the in-vitro meat comment, recommended as a complement to the coming wave ‘greatly supporting the 21st movement for vegetarianism’

Except eggs have nothing to with vegetarianism – and less expensive subsitutes and their effect on eating habits is not exactly new. Cheaper chicken supporting a wave of less hamburger eating as people turn to chicken nuggets might even be true, for example, drawn from the past generation in American mass eating habits.

However, the idea of ‘vegetable eggs pursued for economic reasons’ is worth highlighting.

Especially when wondering if you actually know many vegetarians. But it appears fairly certain you do not often go shopping for current ‘cheaper’ vegetarian substitutes, the ones that require considerably less energy and resources to produce than feeding cattle, pigs, or poultry (being generally made from the same things those animals are fed in greater quantities).

Or at least do any shopping in the UK (which is a paradise for vegetarians, including accurate and strict labelling) or in Germany, where those cheaper substitutes are not to be found. As for France – simply finding vegetarian substitues for meat is the first challenge, unless you shop at Asian stores (which tend to be a bit thin in the Alsace).

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:05 am

Eggs have NOTHING to do with vegetarianism?

Well, now you are just being disagreeable.

John Thacker May 12, 2014 at 11:10 am

I think you are still missing Alex’s point that the welfare of chickens in egg production is a concern to those vegetarians who are not vegan but are vegetarian for animal welfare reasons. (I also think that there may be more vegans than you think.)

There are cruelty free eggs and the like, but generally those are more expensive, heightening the potential cost savings for a egg substitute for people for whom animal welfare is a concern.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

Spoken like a man who has genetically modified chickens to poop chicken salad!

Dave Anthony May 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

Cost reduction is a fair point, especially considering industrial food production, but if it is just animal welfare concerns, you can buy local free range eggs for $4.00 a dozen, or 33 cents an egg.

If you care about eating more natural food instead of processed food, it really isn’t that expensive. In more rural areas you can almost find someone in the office who has some chickens laying more eggs than they know what to do with that will sell you a dozen for even less.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:55 am

That is a lot of time spent beating the bushes for marginally better food. It’s not like we all live to 82.3 years.

chuck martel May 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

“If you care about eating more natural food instead of processed food, it really isn’t that expensive.”

What’s the expense got to do with it? If you care, you wouldn’t even consider options that you find disagreeable but cheaper. By accepting the bad but cheap eggs, you’re putting a price on your caring.

John Thacker May 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Cost reduction is a fair point, especially considering industrial food production, but if it is just animal welfare concerns, you can buy local free range eggs for $4.00 a dozen, or 33 cents an egg.

The point is that it’s a combination. Let’s say free range eggs are double the price of factory farmed eggs. In that case, it’s easier to convince the person who is concerned about animal welfare to try the vegetarian eggs than someone who doesn’t care. The potential cost savings compared to $4/dozen eggs is greater than $2/dozen eggs.

Therefore, even though people concerned with animal cruelty can still choose free range eggs, they’re still a natural target market for the vegetarian eggs.

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm

‘I think you are still missing Alex’s point that the welfare of chickens in egg production is a concern to those vegetarians who are not vegan but are vegetarian for animal welfare reasons.’

Interesting point – but then, that sort of industrial egg production is no longer allowed in the EU (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Council_Directive_1999/74/EC), and many people buy free range eggs – using egg marking, which was implemented in 2005. They cost maybe 15% more at a store like Edeka, though since I just forgot to buy eggs after walking to the local Edeka, one may question that 15% figure (and prices do fluctuate on a very regular basis, where the difference between the putatively same 10 eggs from the same producer can easily vary 50 cents – and where free range eggs can be cheaper than ‘Bodenhaltung’ or poultry barn laid eggs on a given day). True organic eggs (which are also decidely free range) cost in the range of 75% more (which gets confused because at the local Edeka, eggs come in both M and L – using the same packaging, except for ‘M’ or ‘L’ on the carton. So it is quite possible to buy L organic eggs and M normal eggs, which changes the price ratio – and reversed, of course). For German egg sales, even at Aldi or Lidl, it would appear looking at the shelves, that a sixth or more of the eggs sold are from ‘freilaufend’ chickens. A process helped by how the eggs themselves are marked, with a code on the egg – ‘Eierkennzeichnung’ being almost a decade old at this point.

Such precise labelling makes it harder (not impossible, of course) to sell eggs which do not meet the standards expected of the producer. Part of a process of increased regulation and oversight that has played a significant role in increasing chicken welfare in the EU.

‘I also think that there may be more vegans than you think’

Probably not – two of my best friends are vegans (one is a decidely excellent cook), I live with a vegetarian who is also a good cook of the couple of vegan meals we eat each week, and a number of the British women I’ve known in Germany have also been vegan. Which isn’t surprising, as ‘veganism’ is a British idea stemming from the mid-1940s. What may be more suprising is how many Buddhist vegetarians in countries like Taiwan supplying the American market have no idea why vegans care about yoghurt or honey.

‘As Watson grew up, he did not smoke, consume alcohol, or make contact with foods or substances which he regarded as ‘toxins’. In the 1940s, after learning about milk production, he became a vegan.[1] He explained his motivation as ethical concern for sentient animals:
“We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals’ bodies”[6] ”

In November 1944 in Leicester, he and his wife, Dorothy, and four friends founded the Vegan Society.[3] Someone in the group would have come up with a word to describe their way of life, he believed, but he suggested ‘vegan’ – “the beginning and end of ‘vegetarian’” – “because veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion.”[3] Watson and the group launched the first edition of the Society’s quarterly newsletter, The Vegan News, in the same year.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Watson

(I also think that there may be more vegans than you think.)

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Scratch that last vegan line in parentheses, by the way.

John Thacker May 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm

prior_approval, if you know so many vegans, then why did you say, “since when did any vegetarian (apart from adherents of strict versions of Jainism and Buddhism) have any problem with eggs?” Most people I know view vegan as a stricter subset of vegetarian.

And again, by pointing out that various free range and organic eggs are more expensive than conventional factory farm eggs, you’re only reinforcing the point that the vegetarian eggs would have an easier time appealing to people who choose free range and organic eggs than people who don’t bother. The potential cost savings are greater.

prior_approval May 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

‘prior_approval, if you know so many vegans, then why did you say, “since when did any vegetarian (apart from adherents of strict versions of Jainism and Buddhism) have any problem with eggs?” Most people I know view vegan as a stricter subset of vegetarian.’

I consider vegans to be very much their own group in terms of their beliefs. A framework shared by all the vegetarians I’ve known (both religious and ethical – I’ve never known any strict Jains, admittedly). That a number of vegans (not my friends or acquaintances, though such writing is all over the Internet) tend to think that any vegetarian that eats joghurt to be someone who hasn’t seen the true light yet is not relevant to how vegetarians generally see themselves. (Of course there is overlap – leather being one of those areas, where a number of vegetarians agree with vegans that leather is simply beyond the pale, without reservation.)

And veganism is utterly unsuited for young human children – again, a major distinction between the vegetarian mothers I’ve known, and the vegan writings one tends to find on the web. (Yes, the vegans I’ve known have tended to be single women, or paired women – anecdata shouldn’t be confused with stereotype, but there it is anyways.)

It is a broad subject, obviously.

‘that various free range and organic eggs are more expensive than conventional factory farm eggs’

Conventional factory farm eggs are no longer available in the EU. The price of eggs has gone up for everyone in that regard.

‘you’re only reinforcing the point that the vegetarian eggs would have an easier time appealing to people who choose free range and organic eggs than people who don’t bother’

Actually, and just as an opinion, I would tend to think exactly the reverse. People who are already buying more expensive eggs due to concern about animal welfare are not being primarily motivated by economic concerns. Whether they would buy a substitute would be more dependent on the quality of the substitute than the average buyer’s lack of concern about animal welfare.

Jeff May 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

“Li Ka-shing, the wealthiest person in Asia…”

Ka-ching!

Z May 12, 2014 at 10:28 am

More nuts afraid of their food. I wouldn’t care, except they always end up demanding the rest of us join their cult, eventually pointing the gun of government at our heads. I wish him and his fellow cultists nothing but the worst.

Thor May 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

Please, Z, you are better than this. This is sophomoric, ad hominem and insulting to the rest of us. Your grasp of science and nutrition also leaves a lot to be desired.

Z May 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

No, I’m not “better than this.” I’m also tired of these wackos imposing their morality on the rest of us. I hope his farm burns down.

Rahul May 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Well even if he was successful like crazy (which I don’t think he will be) this business idea of his is hardly going to make a dent in the traditional egg market.

So, he might be wacko, but I really don’t see any attempt at sabotaging your egg-devouring habits, @Z.

cheesetrader May 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Yet…and after they took away my eggs, they came for my bacon and there was hell to pay

msgkings May 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm

“No, I’m not “better than this.” ”

Most truthful thing Z has posted in a while

Axa May 13, 2014 at 7:14 am

It’s not morality, it’s marketing. If they use morality for marketing purposes……that’s another story.

Brenton May 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

cult-like behavior = applying modern science and reasoning to come to the conclusion that factory farming is unethical.

Z May 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The jokes write themselves with you guys. You start with the science-y pose and end with an emotional tantrum. The best part is even when it is pointed out to you blockheads, you still don’t get it.

dan1111 May 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Your parody writes itself. This is an article about some dude coming up with an innovative product funded by private money (i.e. free market capitalism at work), and you are ranting about imagined government coercion, just because it sounds kind of like something people you don’t like are in favor of.

Z May 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm

You are a humorless dullard and no one likes you.

msgkings May 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

dan1111 just put a huge beatdown on Z

Max Factor May 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Z is getting rocked. It’s okay – when you’re right 42 percent of the time you’re wrong 58 percent of the time .

joshua May 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

But the latest nutritional science says the cholesterol and saturated fat in eggs is good for us, and the next nutritional science will doubtless discover other benefts to the interactions of the complex properties of real eggs. Humans are not yet smart enough or skilled enough to make better food than God, just smart enough and skilled enough to think we can. (Of course, whether or not vegetable eggs are better than factory chicken eggs, neither being “real” eggs, is an open question…)

Z May 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

The science is clear at this point. Vegetarianism is unhealthy. But, it never was about health with these people. Food based cults are nothing new and food is often a part of religious rituals. Vegetarianism is a religion, nothing more. It is why they always find some way to tell you they are a vegetarian within five minutes of meeting them.

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

‘Vegetarianism is unhealthy.’

Yeah, that American diet kicks the Meditarrean one all over the place in terms of healthiness.

‘The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain, Italy and Morocco.[1] The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.

———————————

Although it was first publicized in 1945 by the American scientist Ancel Keys stationed in Pioppi, Italy, the Mediterranean diet failed to gain widespread recognition until the 1990s. Objective data showing that Mediterranean diet is healthy, first originated from the Seven Countries Study.

Mediterranean diet is based on what from the point of view of mainstream nutrition is considered a paradox: that although the people living in Mediterranean countries tend to consume relatively high amounts of fat, they have far lower rates of cardiovascular disease than in countries like the United States, where similar levels of fat consumption are found. A parallel phenomenon is known as the French Paradox.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_diet

As for that study? – ‘The Seven Countries Study is an epidemiological longitudinal study that was the first study to systematically examine the relationships between lifestyle, diet, coronary heart disease and stroke in different populations from different regions of the world. It directed attention to the causes of coronary heart disease and stroke, but also showed that an individual’s risk can be changed.

——————————————

Objective data on CVD health in relation to the Mediterranean diet originated from the Seven Countries Study. Coronary deaths in the United States and Northern Europe greatly exceeded those in Southern Europe, even when controlled for age, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, smoking, physical activity, and weight. When investigated further, the importance of the eating pattern characterized as the Mediterranean diet became clear.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Countries_Study

But please, don’t ever change what you eat, especially if there is empirical data concerning lifespan and eating less meat.

Jeff May 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

That seven countries study has come under a lot of fire, p_a. Did you read the criticism part?

prior_approval May 12, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Yes – there is a quite detailed part of the first link explaining the differences in diet between various countries in that region, also.

Strangely enough, there has yet to be a study extolling the virtues of the current American diet. Though a surprising amount of effort has been expended by some in the U.S. in preventing Americans from actually knowing what they are eating.

Axa May 13, 2014 at 7:18 am

If Mediterranean diet is that awesome, why Japan has the best life expectancy?

Anonymous May 12, 2014 at 11:18 am

Is it just me or has the quality of comments in this blog really gone down a lot lately?

I have no idea whether vegetarianism is healthy or not (I’m not a vegetarian myself) and a quick look at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism#Health_effects) reveals that there is no consensus on the subject. If something, I get the feeling from the article that well-planned vegetarian diet might have slight health benefits. Yet here we have someone boldly declaring that “the science is clear” and “vegetarianism is a religion”.

Z May 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

It’s you.

Rahul May 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

The key problem is that the experts most qualified to comment on a topic are usually the ones most careful not to sound certain about anything. Expertise is usually inversely correlated to certainty.

Z May 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

@Rahul: The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. – Bertrand Russell

As a trouble maker, I’ve always found this to be an inspiration.

msgkings May 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

In other words, Z is saying “please ignore my trolling”.

I do respect the honesty.

Justin Millar May 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm

MR has always had lousy comments (lots of partisan bickering, low insight). But I agree it has been getting even worse.

Nyongesa May 13, 2014 at 12:31 am

I’ll second that. when I first started lurking in these halls close to a decade ago, you could find comment sections with lengthy entries or discussions that could change your established opinions or understanding of a subject. I had dust of my trusty dictionary on many occasions. My measly observation is that with the advent of the financial crisis more ideologues wandered in looking for a safe haven to reinforce the priors.

Rusty Synapses May 12, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Agree. I used to come to this site because it was full of interesting posts by people smarter than me who knew a lot more about econ than I do. I guess I’d like to think I’m getting smarter, but sadly, it’s the posts that are getting dumber. These trolls need to get a new hobby.

Nyongesa May 13, 2014 at 12:32 am

+ 1 zillion

MD2 May 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Amen. There’s a reason there’s cholesterol and saturated fat in eggs. Evolution works – don’t fight it.

mpowell May 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

I’m hopeful that the next several decades will actually show a reasonable advance in our understanding of nutrition. Now that we are finally getting passed the enormous detour the health community took (starting in the 50s!) that dietary fat is bad for you. It was always bad science, but it’s really hard for a community to shake something like that once it becomes conventional wisdom.

Erik May 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

Amen again! Biology is incredibly complex. Engineers will always try to build a better mousetrap but what they build will wind up missing a substantial amount of the benefits or introducing unexpected new risks because of the complexity of how our bodies co-evolved with nature for nutrient uptake.

Always remember margarine. From miracle product to dangerous substitute.

Rahul May 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Is that an argument against making any changes?

Erik May 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Not at all. It’s an argument about expectations. Let them invent and sell these eggs. Just buyer beware, and for goodness sake don’t REPLACE traditional food with this. That is my problem with GMO. They aren’t known to be harmful. There are also a lot of unknowns regarding long-term effects (decades-long). However the wind and pollination cannot be controlled, so one day when enough of a GM product is cultivated there will be a tipping point where it all becomes GM. I just want choice.

There will be plenty of people that view real eggs as better. There will be science making that claim. There will be plenty of people who refute that science and argue for the silver bullet of the fake eggs. There will be plenty of people who believe that real eggs are better but would rather save some money rather than get that extra benefit. There will be plenty of people who simply don’t have that choice. Such is life.

By the way the benefits of being vegetarian are that you have to largely avoid processed foods. It has little to do with avoiding eating meat. It’s a correlation. Vegetarians on average DO eat more healthily, but it’s not BECAUSE they don’t eat meat. I’m not a vegetarian but I have garnered those benefits.

Rahul May 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Sounds reasonable. I don’t think we are in any danger of these fake eggs replacing real ones anytime soon. :)

John Thacker May 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

However the wind and pollination cannot be controlled, so one day when enough of a GM product is cultivated there will be a tipping point where it all becomes GM. I just want choice.

I think you’re essentially claiming here that choice is impossible. Certainly long-term effects are possible, as we’ve seen bad long-term effects from conventional plant breeding programs. GMO, if anything, seems more reliable and well-understood than what happened with the Gros Michel banana and Panama disease, or blackcurrant carrying disease and being banned in the US for decades, or dutch elm disease, or kudzu and the American South. So far GMO seems, if anything, tame in comparison to the results of conventional, less carefully controlled breeding programs. (Such as those that gave us modern dog breeds and their congenital diseases.)

Finch May 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

It’s an argument for waiting a long time before adapting dietary recommendations. Or more generally accepting expert recommendations in a field you know has a really marginal understanding of its subject matter.

Macroeconomics, I’m looking at you.

The state of nutrition science seems pretty poor. I do think other commentors are right to identify the pull-back from low-fat high-carb recommendations (that were reasonably compatible with vegetarianism) as a major sign that nutrition science is not to be trusted yet.

Finch May 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Sorry, “adopting,” not “adapting.”

Chris Hansen May 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I can’t wait to see how big the fine is that the FDA will whack Kellogg’s with for saying Corn Flakes are “Heart Healthy”.

C

Dylan May 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

Ughh I wish people would stop using the “X is a religion” statements. It is almost always a stupid statement.

Z May 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

Perhaps you should try putting your fingers in your ears and chanting “la-la-la-la” until the bad men go away.

John Thacker May 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

It is a based on a deeply held moral belief. And one day it may even be enforced at gunpoint, like many other things, including the prohibition of slavery. Hard to say how morality may evolve. (Similarly, our descendants might well view natural childbirth and abortion as twin horrors, or immigration restrictions as vile.)

J May 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

But liberalism is a cult, don’t you know that? Believing in global warming is THE SAME THING as believing in biblical stories, and supporting food stamps is actually supporting a death cult because it’s one step removed from communism which kills people, or something. .

I am reminded of the “red pill” movement, of which I have only recently become aware. Wait a minute, women are attracted to guys who are good-looking and have money and status? I’M LIKE NEO IN THE MATRIX FOR DISCOVERING THIS. http://mindblowngifs.tumblr.com/post/32712441400

J May 12, 2014 at 11:18 am

I wrote “/sarcasm” in brackets at the end of the 1st paragraph but apparently the blog robot thought I was actually trying to make an HTML code. Fail.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:41 am

When some people observe that global warming hysterics are like a religion, they aren’t referring to the part that some religions read a book called The Bible. It is the other parts.

In the first comment, note references to Jainism and Buddhism. Disregard the erroneous nature of the comment, just feel the vibe.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

1. There are priests with a direct-line to the truth
2. If you don’t believe the priests, you are a “denier”
3. The worst deniers are apostates
4. There are behavioral rules that the believers enforce
5. If you break these rules you will burn

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

etc.

See, totally different.

J May 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Is there some way of confirming or denying the existence of global warming that you know of that doesn’t involve asking scientists about it, other than waiting around for 100 years and seeing how everything turns out? We accept their views, beliefs, and opinions in all sorts of other ways. Heck I only know how light bulbs work because I read it in a book, not because I replicated hundreds of years’ worth of scientific experiments on the matter. Scientists have turned out to be very important in testing drugs for approval, lowering NOx and SO2 emissions, removing lead from gasoline, proving that smoking is harmful, and more. And all along the way each time you had people (often bought and paid for) arguing against those eggheaded scientists. The global warming controversy simply provides an outlet for certain brands of conservative to a) reject an environmental movement, and b) reject the left-wing academic hivemind, at the same time.

I get the impression that you think you’ve stumbled upon some clever wisdom with the whole “liberalism is a religion” thing, but it’s just in the nature of people to form little in-groups and irrationally hate the out-group. Liberals do it, conservatives do it, everyone except Robin Hanson basically does it. I could just as easily point fingers at conservatives who don’t believe in evolution, anti-vaxxers who don’t vax, libertarians who believe that our national security situation would be improved by becoming isolationist and just having a bunch of citizen militias running around, etc. etc.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I rest my case.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Point being, there seems to be no way I could have a discussion.

Was it scientists who gave us the second-hand smoke risk before they took it away? I don’t know, but I am pretty sure that peopled used “science” as the reason for banning smoking almost everywhere. Now scientists tell us that it is bad, but not that bad.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm

“libertarians who believe that our national security situation would be improved by becoming isolationist ”

How can anyone possibly not believe this?

Wait, are you the guy I used to argue with about torture? I seriously don’t remember.

You think we are safer because of our foreign policy over the last 13 years, up to and including sabre-rattling with Russia?

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm

And why do you bring it up, anyway?

I thought we were talking about eggs.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

For example:

Do you believe that 9/11 happened because of “isolationism?”
AND
Do you believe 9/11 is a good proxy for the consequences of our Intervetion vs Isolationism spectrum?

If so, do you disbelieve almost every (if not EVERY) facet of this:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_the_September_11_attacks

Their stated motivation for aggression are examples of our intervention aka non-isolation.

Or, do you believe that the aggressive intervention (e.g. killing terrorists faster than they are created) is offsetting?

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

It took you all of 3 seconds to lump me into “anti scientist.”

Just one irony is that I personally made a contribution, such as it was, to SOx and NOx abatement.

J May 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm

By all means let’s have a discussion, but it really ought to be of the “based on what we know about how carbon behaves…” variety and not of the “those hippie scientists are just being dramatic” variety.

No I don’t think that US (or world) security would be improved by pulling out of NATO, the Rio Pact, and our various Pacific treaties. I don’t know about any torture argument so must’ve been someone else. Iraq was dumb but not because Pax Americana is fundamentally flawed. In any case I didn’t vote for Bush so take it up with the Republicans.

Yeah I suppose it all started with Z’s rather extreme assertion that vegetarianism is a religion rather than a fad or a somewhat unusual lifestyle choice. Fake eggs, gun control, global warming, all part of the secularist religion and its evil plot to police my thoughts down the barrel of a gun.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I’m not sure those aren’t still strawmen.

We can’t really pull out of NATO considering we are NATO.

Do you think we are safer, or any legitimate interests are served, by using CIA-style tactics to expand NATO right up to the border of Russia?

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

You chose the verbiage of “isolation”-ism and the paradigm of either more or less intervention.

Additionally, I’m not sure you can cherry-pick the interventions you like rhetorically, politically, or practically.

Bush pushed through his interventions on the basis that “isolationism” had failed. Of course, it hadn’t been tried, we just weren’t paying close attention. But the salient point is we are stuck with the more or less intervention options.

J May 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

We’re really getting far afield here. At the end of the day, while arguably all political factions have a certain element of groupthink to them, liberals are no more guilty of this than pretty much everyone else. Your and Z’s insistence that liberals are part of a religion or a death cult or whatever adds nothing to the discussion. Some people just disagree with you. There’s no need to be so dramatic about it.

Thomas May 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

J, you don’t have to admit it here, and I don’t expect it to but:

“Is there some way of confirming or denying the existence of global warming that you know of that doesn’t involve asking scientists about it”

perhaps not for you, but for many Global Warming adherents (I read the term “warm-mongers” the other day, excellence), it’s about much more than what Scientists* say.

*On a related note, 9/10 military officers support military expenditures.

J May 13, 2014 at 9:51 am

Yes, yes, and dentists think oral health is really important, and so on. This is why you have to be careful about giving specialists the keys to the safe.

But I’m not really sure what broader point you’re trying to make. Should we all stop flossing because of dentist exaggeration and end all defense spending on that account? Of course not. With global warming the scientific consensus is overwhelming and justifies policies like a moderate carbon tax and alternative R&D subsidies. We don’t have to listen to the “back to the land” people, we just need to floss our teeth.

8 May 12, 2014 at 11:13 am

There are strange forces afoot in the world of food. On the one hand, rising costs means great demand for GMO and veggie eggs. This teams up animal rights activists with capitalists. On the other side are the paleodieters and the anti-factory farmers who want to get back to a more natural diet and more natural food production. If you are at a party and there is some Left-Right political battle erupting, try to steer the conversation to food and watch the battle lines reform.

Dan Weber May 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Are eggs expensive now? Around 2 bucks for a dozen.

chuck martel May 13, 2014 at 10:11 am

They were a lot cheaper just a short time ago, having more than doubled in price in less than ten years.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 11:58 am

I was in an alley trying to score some free range chicken when I saw Tyler Cowen with his unmistakable spice rack bandolier making a deal at the back door of a Szechuan restaurant.

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm

But seriously, I used to get a burrito once per week with beans. I also had horrible heart burn every single day and night, all day long. It was going to kill me, I’m pretty sure, quite literally. Then I stopped the burritos and now VERY rarely get heartburn. Why do people think anything is easy? “It’s no problem, just triple your food bill and spend all your time beating the bushes for super labor intensive and/or not very tasty foods. Nevermind that your kids will NEVER touch most of the stuff.”

What’s my point? Sure, I try to eat more plants and less meat. It’s a pain in the…gut.

y81 May 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Wouldn’t this same logic also require the substitution of margarine for butter? (Except that in this case, science has already done its work.) Many people consider the life of diary cattle to be cruel, in the same way that the life of egg-laying chickens is. Margarine is cheaper than butter, and it is vegetable-based. So why isn’t everyone rushing to eat more margarine and less butter?

Steve-O May 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

It’s not an issue I devote a lot of attention to, but I haven’t heard much about the plight of dairy cattle compared to egg-laying chickens or animals we eat.

cheesetrader May 12, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I live in a dairy state – the Plight Of The Dairy Cow is a cause celebre with “certain parties” (nannystatist health zealots) who love stuff like this: http://www.veganoutreach.org/dairy/

Andrew' May 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

If we took a survey of chickens and cows and asked “would you like to be able to have more offspring in exchange for a life of providing milk and eggs” the results would be 58%+/-4% “Moooo” and 36%+/-4% “bock bock bock BACKOCK!”

cheesetrader May 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Those results would be nothing to crow about….udderly misleading stats

andrew' May 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Speaking of bullheaded cocksureness…this smacks of pure moo affilation.!

JWatts May 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I laughed.

Ray Lopez May 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Apropos of nothing, and sadly, some people in Korea think beating a dog before you kill it will make the meat taste better.

8 May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

It probably does taste better to them. Why else would they do it?

Sam May 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

In most hunting situations you try to kill it as quickly as possible. Beating it to death will probably fill the meat with stress hormones and make the meat tougher.

Todd Fletcher May 12, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Anybody who just blithely assumes that these “eggs” are in any way equivalent to the real thing deserves to eat them.

Seriously, how foolish do you have to be today to accept the claims of food scientists? If there’s really a problem with the production of chicken eggs we can fix it directly.

Dave Nelson May 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm

This is where blind taste testing comes in. Right now you’ll probably be able to tell the difference between a plain scrambled chicken egg and a scrambled Hampton Creek “egg”. But if egg is 1 out of 15 ingredients in a cookie, can you tell the difference between the two? Or can you tell the difference between mayo and vegan mayo? Many people already can’t tell the difference (including Bill Gates, which is why he is excited about this).

If more and more vegan products are able to mimic the taste of their animal counterparts without people telling the difference, and are cheaper and healthier, it’s going to be a stronger case for more people using them regardless of how they feel about animal welfare.

Todd Fletcher May 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

“This is where blind taste testing comes in.” No it doesn’t. I’m not talking about tasting good enough to fool people, I’m talking about the two being nutritionally equivalent, which rests on the notion that nutritionist understand nutrition. They do not, nor do doctors. In fact the science to determine if the two are equivalent does not currently exist, so this acceptance that this product really is a valid, equivalent substitute for an egg is wholly unwarranted.

Dave Nelson May 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Ah, I didn’t get there from your first post. Do you think most Americans are really spending their food budgets based on the best available nutrition information? Have many Americans read up on the pros and cons of the health benefits of chicken eggs (from any source), and afterwards chosen to include chicken eggs in their diets? Companies frequently substitute cheaper ingredients in products without customers caring or noticing.

I think the nutrition question will interest some people, just like the animal welfare will interest some people, but I’d say most Americans will care about taste, cost, and convenience. Whether Hampton Creeks succeeds probably won’t depend a lot on nutrition but on those factors. Can they expand beyond Whole Foods and get into Krogers and other mainstream stores?

y81 May 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Well, mimicking the taste of butter with trans-fat laden margarine turned out to be a very bad thing for the people who were fooled into eating it, no? Despite the fact that scientists assured everyone that it was healthier. Why do zealots like Alex and Todd think it’s okay to poison gullible consumers? Why should I believe people who deceived me in the past, even if their motives were good? (Incidentally, Tetrick is trying to make money with fake eggs, so I have no reason at all to trust him.)

Todd Fletcher May 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Nothing I said indicates zealotry, I think you misunderstood me completely. I agree with you.

Dave Nelson May 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

But wouldn’t you say margarine without trans-fat is a healthier substitute than butter? The Mayo Clinic seems to think so: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/butter-vs-margarine/faq-20058152

You seem to consider trans-fat poison from what you said- so did you support Bloomberg’s banning of it in NYC and the FDA’s proposal to ban it nationwide?

Also, I agree you shouldn’t believe people who tricked you into buying trans-fat laden food. However, Tetrick and Hampton Creeks were never that person. Tetrick is trying to make money, but so is everyone else in the food business.

andrew' May 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Certainly, if this guy’s lab experiments blow up he is going to end up with egg on his face.

Andrew McDowell May 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Anybody know what their definition of replace is, and how much chemistry they are prepared to do? A purely vegetarian diet would miss some chemical constituents of food that we can supposedly do without and/or synthesize (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurine). Is the argument “you don’t really need this stuff – we offer functional equivalence” or “we’re going to synthesize the stuff that wouldn’t otherwise be present from purely vegetarian ingredients”?

Axa May 13, 2014 at 7:20 am

One word: Redbull

LarryM May 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

There’s a lot of mood affiliation going on here. As such, trying to make a substantive point may be useless. But one point to keep in mind is that there’s a huge difference between “we’ve learned a lot about nutrition, and have a somewhat different understanding of what a proper diet should consist of,” and “hey, it turns out that the high fat, high calorie, low vegetable, high simple carb U.S. diet was good after all!!”

Cliff May 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Is anyone saying the latter?

More apropos, eggs are good for you. Really good for you.

LarryM May 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

To talk about fat a little bit … yeah, OT, but not as much so as (e.g.) talking about non-interventionism:

(1) It does look like some of the extreme low fat diets advocated by some were a mistake. But
(2) The typical American diet is still too high in fat, because:
(a) It’s calorically dense (i.e., twice as much fat per gram as carbs and protein), making it harder to maintain a healthy weight if you over indulge. Now, people who don’t tend to put on extra weight, that’s a not a huge deal. But most Americans these days don’t seem to be so lucky, and
(b) Trans fat is still properly regarded as highly problematic. Saturated fats aren’t quite the bogyman as previously thought, but you’re probably still better off with replacing some saturated fat with unsaturated fats.

andrew' May 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Synthetic proteins will be fine eventually. They won’t have a lot of stuff we don’t even know is good (or bad).

I am fine with it as it had nothing to do with vegetarianism or less health-based versions of anti-meat.

There are basically no properly controlled evidence for any of it, and none seem to show more than modest health effects, after nealy a full minute of Google searching. But I am not drawing conclusions from the absence of evidence.

andrew' May 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Not in direct reference to 23andme, but I’ve posted previously on an fda warning letter to my creamer company who just wanted to advertise their trans fat free coffee creamer.

Again absence of evidence blah blah blah

andrew' May 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Oh, byw They aren’t exactly the same guys who allow conventional creamer companies to market 0.5 grams of trans fat as zero but close enough for government work. F these guys.

Philipides May 13, 2014 at 4:20 am

The description made of egg production shows a deep lack of knowledge and a deeper lack of respect for egg producers.
Farmers love animals and they know that to have high yields they have to provide welfare to them. On top of that, there are very strict regulations about welfare -particularly in Europe.
Nothing wrong to look for novel ways of producing food, but please, be informed that farms are those places where animals get food, water, have a nice temperature, receive medication when sick and are free of predators. All this allows all of us to have affordable, safe, abundant food. Our generation lives longer than that of our parents and granparents and quality of food has a lot to do with it. Eggs are very nutritious, provide half the protein a child needs per day and all the iron, they are really cheap. We should compliment egg producers, who devote their lives to their animals and not critizice them from urban, distant places

Dave Nelson May 13, 2014 at 9:46 am

On the animal welfare issue- the egg industry requires many millions of female hens to lay eggs. What happens to male chicks, since they don’t provide eggs? Aren’t millions suffocated in garbage bags or tossed in high-velocity grinders each year?

You say eggs are cheap, but it costs a lot of money to provide the generous conditions you describe for animals. If Hampton Farms can make eggs for less money, without any animal welfare issues, it has the chance to steal a lot of the existing egg industry business. You may argue that chicken egg health benefits would still make them preferable- but most people shop based on taste, cost, and convenience (see McDonalds, KFC, etc sales numbers). The health argument only appeals to a very limited numbers of consumers, and it’s not a slam dunk (the cholesterol in eggs, for one).

Jun May 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Farmers? Western egg producers have more in common with industrialists than farmers.

Also, our generation lives longer than that of our parents and grandparents essentially due to better hygiene and lower infant mortality – nothing to do with eggs.

Thorfinnsson May 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

The obsessive, neurotic concern over animal welfare is surely a sign of liberal decadence. Battery farming is of course not optimal, but the market already provides pastured eggs and that could be mandated by the USDA if someone with stones would take on Big Ag.

These vegetable eggs seem to be nutritionally inferior, as they lack saturated fat and cholesterol (both very healthy and essential for proper health) as well as complete essential acids. Furthermore, they seem to be quite low in energy. What’s the point? Aside from liberal decadence and the religious worship of lesser animals, that is.

Vegetarians should be ostracized from polite society.

Jun May 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Happening already with gigantic means. Check Roquette’s Algolina. Microalgal flour with better baking properties than egg and better taste for the final product. We’re one or two years away from a big dent in the egg industry.

DK May 14, 2014 at 2:39 am

FYI: “In vitro” is written without hyphen.

Rest assured that any in vitro produced “egg” is not going to taste anything like the real egg. An easy to picture analogy would be making whiskey by mixing pure ethanol with some chemicals. Can be used in baking recipes but that’s about all of it.

prior_approval May 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

To add a couple of numbers from today’s shopping trip to Real, in southern Germany.

Vegetarische Nuggets (the first listed ingredient being water) – €3.99 for 400 grams (basically, one cent per gram)
Chicken breast filets (no bones or skin), right next to those nuggets, on sale – €6.99 for 1000 grams (basically .7 cent per gram)

Cheapest eggs (Bodenhaltung) – €1.09 for ten (didn’t note size – M is most likely).
Most expensive Bodenhaltung eggs – €1.99 (XL as size classification) for ten
Cheapest Freiland eggs – €1.99 (M or L – depending on what was delivered that day) for ten

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