Meat. Steak and hamburgers. Who would have thought a diet staple would become such a controversial subject? Conservatives, as is their wont, have dragged the issue into the culture wars.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned cultured meat (grown in a lab from animal cells) from sale in his state. According to the governor, “Florida is fighting back against the global elites’ plan to force the world to eat meat grown in a petri dish or bugs.” He actually said this—you can find it on the BBC website.

His justification is the grand cause of defending American agriculture. “We stand with the cattle ranchers,” he proudly announces.

Governor DeSantis’s vehemence may be inspired in part at least by support for cultured meat from The World Economic Forum, a conservative bête noire. The forum touts the product as an efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to livestock, which of course it is.

Its use can cut carbon emissions and water usage, and free up land for nature. Livestock meat as a source of protein is highly inefficient—it takes 25 kilos of plant protein to produce one kilo of beef protein. And it requires huge amounts of water—100 times more to produce one kilo of animal protein than to produce one kilo of grain protein. All this for a product genetically indistinguishable from flesh off a cow or pig or whatever.

And about that “bugs” thing, the governor mentions. He may be referring to the lobbyists for edible insects who have launched a campaign asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to add insect products to the agency’s list of safe ingredients. I’ve never eaten insects myself (at least not intentionally) but am told they are tasty and protein dense, so if I get the chance, I’ll definitely have a taste.

But quite aside from the relative merits of natural and cultured meat, isn’t the governors’s action anti-American? Isn’t the U.S.A. the land of free enterprise, of innovators and entrepreneurs?

Good Meat, a cultured meat company which claims to be the first in the world to sell lab-grown meat, certainly thinks so. It responded to DeSantis with the observation, “In a state that purportedly prides itself on being a land of freedom and individual liberty, its government is now telling consumers what meat they can or cannot purchase.” Touché!

Good Meat is a subsidiary of Eat Just, a company founded in 2011 by two American entrepreneurs based in San Francisco. Eat Just has sold its products to major food companies including Whole Foods, Costco and Safeway—an American success story.

So much for Florida and the American dream. That such an intelligent, highly educated man (he has degrees from Yale and Harvard) as DeSantis would violate as sacred a conservative principle as free enterprise may seem surprising, but the governor is a stout culture warrior. He has signed into law a bill that bans abortions after six weeks, questioned climate science, supported open gun carry, banned transition-related care for minors, implemented his infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts LGBTQ rights… you get the idea.

Now it’s time to protect his people from the global elites and their “authoritarian” meat plan. He may have to politicize science and trample free enterprise in the process, but Floridians will not eat bugs.

3 thoughts on “Suppressing free enterprise in Florida”
  1. The ‘greatness’ of America is its ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in its head. While normal people may call out Desantis’s position as hypocritical, the crowd he is cultivating likely lauds him for his ‘nimbleness’ of thought.

  2. The H1N1 virus has been reported in US dairy herds. It likely will spread to US beef herds. DeSantis may be advancing the Vegetarian cause.

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