Everyone is condemning how terrible the industrial production of meat nowadays and calls for the adoption for far more humane approaches. Kasia Gora, PhD., CTO of SciFi Foods, joins Doctor Awesome to talk about cultivated meat, which she believes is the answer to this growing concern. She shares how they grow animal cells outside of animals themselves to produce meat that looks and tastes like conventional ones. Kasia explains how this technology can solve the meat production problem and even address other sustainability issues in the world. She also discusses the needed support from the government to fast-track the development of meat cultivation so it can reach everyone’s plates as soon as possible.

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The Future Of Meat – A Conversation With Kasia Gora

I’m excited to speak with Dr. Kasia Gora. She’s the CTO of SciFi Foods, which is doing some pretty interesting stuff in the food space. Kasia, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you started innovating in the food industry.

My pleasure. Nice to meet you, Dr. Awesome. My name is Dr. Kasia Gora. I am the Cofounder and CTO of SciFi Foods and we’re working on the future of food. Specifically, we’re imagining the future of animal agriculture, where we can make all the meat that we want without any of the ethical or sustainable issues that we face now.

You’re talking about meat that’s grown by bacteria. Is that correct?

No. No bacteria here.

How’s it grown?


FSP | Cultivated Meat


Bacteria are great. I don’t want to give bacteria a bad rap. They’re fantastic. We’re not doing what folks might be a little bit more familiar with, which is using precision fermentation to make certain proteins that people want to eat. We’re taking that one step further. We’re growing animal cells outside of the animal. We work on beef at SciFi Foods. We grow beef cells without the cow. We grow them in stainless steel bioreactors. That way, we’re able to make sustainable hamburgers.

How do you make cells from nothing? What is the machinery required to do that?

We do start with cells. We start with a cow biopsy. We work with a farm in Ohio and we’re able to take small samples from young cows. Those biopsies are sent back to our laboratory in San Leandro, California then we start doing our molecular magic or cell biology magic in order to develop those cells into the cell lines that we grow in bioreactors. They start from a cow. It’s just that the cow continues to live. We’re working on cells that we’ve created from some original biological material.

How far are we with technology? Can I order a steak or is it still in the initial stages?

You can technically order some chicken if you go to Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. UPSIDE Foods and Eat Just got regulatory approval to sell cultivated chicken. Those are available in extremely limited quantities. It’s possible to try some cultivated meat. No one’s gotten approval for cultivated beef yet. We’re going through the regulatory process.

We do make demo products in our lab in San Leandro, which we’re able to offer to some people under informed consent because again, it’s not approved by the FDA or USDA quite yet. We’re focused on burgers. Those are unstructured products. We’re taking isolated plant proteins like soy and blending them with our cultivated cells to create the burger.

That helps us solve a bunch of technical issues. The main challenge of cultivated meat is it’s so expensive. It’s expensive to grow animal cells and cell culture, but it’s even more expensive to figure out how to structure those cells into a 3D structure like a steak. We’re focused on just growing the cells cheaply and using those cells as a flavor ingredient.

The amino acid profile is the same as beef. Everything is the same.

It’s beef cells.

When you’re talking about beef cells, I think of the structure of a steak like you have not only the actual muscle component but you have the tendon component and the fat component. I can see you go to burgers and it being much more similar to what a person would normally experience. I’m interested in trying it and that’s the thing. I’ve heard so much about this cultivated meat but I haven’t had any opportunity because I live on the East Coast. I know that there are some opportunities on the West Coast. Do you know if there is anything out there for regular people who want to try this other than California?

I don’t remember the name of José Andrés restaurant in Washington DC. Eat Just has some very limited samples that you can try in that restaurant but it’s not broadly available. The fundamental issue is cost and scale. We’re all in this industry working on figuring out how to make this economical and high volume. Although we’ve gotten a couple of companies through regulatory approval, we’re not at the point yet. We’re manufacturing large volumes of this, but in the next couple of years, more Americans are going to be able to try cultivated meat as companies like SciFi Foods and others start scaling.

Have you tried it? Have you tried a burger?

Yes. They’re great.

What does it taste like?

It tastes like beef. It’s amazing what cultivated cells can do as a flavor ingredient. They transform a plant-based product into something that tastes like conventional meat. I have to say it was a fun journey because I tasted this the first time a few years ago. My initial feelings were like, “I don’t even know how to think about this. I’m a biologist. I never eat anything from my lab.” It was a novel experience. After doing it a few times, it’s old hat now. We’re always excited when there are leftover SciFi burgers. It’s an opportunity I get. I eat a burger.

If you ever have any leftovers and you want to ship it to me just to try it.

I’m not sure what the FDA would think about that but you should come visit the Bay Area.

I would love to.

We could do a lab tour and taste testing. We only do it in our in our facility.

It’s the next natural step. Everybody is talking about how terrible the industrial production of meat is. There is a lot of pushback to go backward and have these local farm movements. I see the creation of industrially prepared humane meat as the way to go. I feel it’s such low-hanging fruit. I had another futurist on the show.

He’s like, “I want to be in this space because the likelihood of a change from 1% to 100% is huge in a technology like this.” We’re in the building block stages. That must be exciting but I have heard from multiple different futurists the excitement around this thing. It’s not Sci-fi anymore. It’s science reality. I’m sure that you’re experiencing that a lot. A lot of people are probably coming to you and talking about this.

This notion that we can solve some of our sustainability and ethical problems going back to traditional farming is interesting, but the numbers don’t work out. With more humans on the planet and the population getting wealthier, which is fantastic, we want to take people and raise them out of poverty. People want to eat more meat and we don’t have enough land mass to do that sustainably.

Low-efficiency traditional farming doesn’t make enough food for human society now, which is why we transformed our system into industrial agriculture, which has enabled us to continue growing the human population. I don’t think we can go back. There is always going to be a place for traditional agriculture. We love traditional agriculture, but industrial agriculture where we chop down more of the rain forest and throw millions of more animals in these inhumane conditions.

It is not the technology we can use to continue scaling food production. I am excited because cellular agriculture is going to transform the way that we eat. Instead of growing whole plants and animals, cellular agriculture focuses on growing individual cells of plants and animals in order to more efficiently produce food.

Cellular agriculture will transform the way we eat. It is all about growing whole plants and animals on individual cells, which is a more efficient method to produce food.

It is the future of meat. There is a real question about how long it’s going to take to scale this technology in a commercially viable way. I’m hopeful that we’re going to see this awesome J curve like we did with solar power which wasn’t a thing many years ago. Now solar is basically cheaper. It is the cheapest form of energy you can get, which is fantastic.

I was talking about this at a dinner party and half of the room was interested in trying it. The other half was a little bit hesitant about it. A little bit skeptical about it. What would you say to those people who are skeptical about it? I can’t even wrap my head around their hesitance, but I do feel there is a certain amount of pushback from anything that’s too technically created like GMOs. There is not a lot of science that says, “This is bad for you.” There is a lot of snake oil that’s out there. People have this reaction. It’s not necessarily based on science. Regardless, the point being is what would you say to those naysayers?

Wait for your friends to try it and they’ll tell you that it’s great. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable. Novelty can be scary. The reality is our food is mostly technical/scientific. When you look behind the curtains of the food system, large food companies have teams of food scientists working in the lab day in and day out to create the products people love.

When you go into a grocery store like most of the stuff that you can buy in the US, it is process prepared food. It’s not tomatoes or just vegetables or raw ingredients. It is these prepared foods that are highly technical. This illusion that the food that we eat is somehow “natural” like it was a hundred years ago. It’s not true, but a hundred years ago, people in the United States didn’t have access to as much wonderful nutrition as we do now.

Not everything about the past was wonderful. We’re in a world where there is much less food insecurity and we hardly have any malnutrition, especially in the United States. Sometimes we have overnutrition. There have been some challenges with the change in the food system. Perhaps not some challenging ways of eating that have developed for various reasons.

Cultivated meat seems new and it is the next step in technology, but there is a lot of technology in your food already. It’s perfectly fine to sit back and watch as your friends, neighbors, and kids get into this thing. Fundamentally, it’s a hamburger. It tastes like a hamburger. We make it in a controlled way. It has to go through regulatory approval.

Another interesting fact that people don’t want to think about is if you think about how we manufacture cultivated meat in the lab, which is clean, super sterile, very safe, and controlled. You think about what it looks like in a slaughterhouse. If most people saw both and they visited both facilities, they would prefer to eat the cultivated meat.

That’s an interesting point.

The reality of modern animal agriculture is unpleasant. Nobody sits with it. Meat companies don’t advertise that. They show you a photo of a field and a cow but that’s not the reality. We can show you a photo of this amazing clean, light, and bright lab. That is our reality. That’s where we manufacture food. We don’t manufacture in a lab. R&D happens in a lab and manufacturing happens at a manufacturing facility like food. Food R&D happens in food science labs. Manufacturing happens in manufacturing facilities. It’s not that different.

That’s interesting. I like the cleanliness aspect of it. That’s a good angle. That’s something that the common person that’s not in it like me looks at and I’m like, “That’s an obvious benefit as opposed to industrial agriculture.” As you said, when about a butcher shop. That gives me a little bit of discussion because I know that’s not going to be the cleanest place in the world.

That’s way cleaner than where the cow came from before that.

When about a sterile lab making my food, I’m like, “I could get behind this.” There is something interesting about that I’ve never thought about before. What about the texture? My background is in the way that we chew things and everything in the head and neck. I’ve been learning a lot more about how our brain interprets food. A lot of it is taste but a lot of it is also in non-tangible factors like texture, the people you’re sitting with, and the presentation. What about the non-tangibles? How does that stack up?

We basically make a blended product or mix plant proteins with beef cells and the outcome is similar to conventional beef. There has been a lot of great development in texturized plant proteins for several years with companies like Impossible and Beyond. They’re doing a lot of work to develop those materials.

You can buy commercially available proteins and make something that has a texture that’s very similar to a burger. The majority of people who do our taste test, and we’ve done more than a hundred now, basically say if you gave that product to them in a restaurant and said it was a beef burger, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. If you do it side by side, there are still some small differences between conventional beef and the blended cultivated product. It’s not significant and certainly on its own. It gives you a good experience of conventional beef.

Do you have to cook it? That might sound like a dumb question, but it has to be cooked before somebody can eat it similar to other meats, correct?

That’s right. The cells are raw products and they are cooked for eating.

How long do you think it’s going to be until we get that on our plates? That’s what everybody’s thinking of. This is a product that is in the concept stages, but if you had a timeline, when could it be sitting in my local McDonald’s or something like that?

We’re going through regulatory now. Our goal is to be commercial toward the end of 2024 or early 2025. I’m pretty bullish about people being able to order SciFi burgers in a couple of restaurants in 2025. When I think about how long it’s going to take to get cultivated meat into grocery stores, my guess is probably about five years, which from the grand scheme of things isn’t that long for building a brand-new industry and a brand-new form of agriculture.

One of the challenges the industry faces is the capital intensity of cultivated meat. The reason is capital intensive is you have to build large cell culture facilities to be able to scale up manufacturing. Unfortunately, in this high-interest rate environment, we’ve seen a big shift in how VCs are able to and want to deploy funding in order to get these industries up and going.

Fundamentally, agriculture is very important to the United States in our international competitiveness and food security. In order to get through the valley of death of scale-up where we have to spend a bunch of money to increase the volume of production, we’re going to have to get some more types of help, especially government help to help make those facilities a reality. Honestly, the technology is there but the current economic environment, if anything, is slowing us down at this point.

How much of it do you think is willpower? I feel like the economics aside is getting better but I’m not sure that people in the US have as much of a focus on healthy meats or these things. The people talked about it years ago, but still, it hasn’t reached that critical mass where everybody is talking about it. It’s still a select number of people that are pushing things like conscientious agriculture.

I don’t think people are going to buy things because it’s better for the environment, honestly. One trend that we are seeing and which will continue is the rising cost of meat, especially beef. That’s what’s going to get consumers in the end. As demand continues to increase, climate change puts more pressure on agriculture and causes more issues with manufacturing industrial animal agriculture.

We’re going to see the prices continue to rise. This world where Americans are used to eating as much meat as they want all the time and it’s super cheap is going to change. That is basically a new market opportunity. If we can come in as manufacturers of cultivated meat and start delivering a reliable product, that is as good as conventional meat in terms of consumer perception and is at cost parity and below the cost of conventional meat.

That’s when we’re going to see traction. That’s a goal. It’s getting the cost down so that we are the least expensive and best product on the market. Luckily, secular trends are in our favor because the reality is beef is going to continue getting more expensive which gives us more room to get into the market and give people an alternative that works for them.

At the end of the day, what you’re saying is accurate. If you can get the price down or if the economics of scale work out in your favor, then it’s going to be a no-brainer to choose cultivated me versus regular meat. I hope for that day. I am looking forward to the food revolution happening. I was bullish on vertical farming.


FSP | Cultivated Meat


I bought myself my own hydroponic setup in my house. I was loving it. It’s this company called Gardyn. You go to it and it’s this 3-foot by 6-foot wall and you pick at it. I was like, “This is something that’s totally revolutionary.” I’m so excited about it, but it never gained steam. I feel like we’re on the cusp of that. People are looking at the way that they eat and consume things.

They want to be more conscientious about it. At the end of the day, it’s all about convenience. If you can make it available in the grocery stores like you say right next to the other meat products and it’s cheaper, I think people will go for it. What about you? You’re in the Bay Area. You had this big push with a lot of people that were into vertical farming then it died down. Do you worry that some of these trends affect your rise negatively? There are a lot of people out there who are trying to revolutionize agriculture, but it still hasn’t happened yet. What is different from your perspective?

It is happening. Things are changing. If I go to my local Whole Foods, I can pick up a salad that’s vertically farmed. Companies like Plenty and Gotham Greens are in the stores. They’re using vertical farming to produce food for folks. There is something happening. There is actual change. Do I worry about these external forces? I don’t worry about them because I can’t control them.

That’s the job of the innovator and the entrepreneur. It’s to develop technologies that make sense for the world today and tomorrow. Whatever is happening, it’s our job to think about how we position ourselves as best we can in that context and not worry about it too much because it’s beyond our control. If you can cost-effectively deliver something amazing that the consumer wants to buy, then you’re going to be able to move the needle. That’s why we focus on the cost of goods and product quality. We know that’s what wins.

If you can deliver something amazing to the consumer, you are moving the needle. Focusing on costs of goods and product quality is what ultimately wins.

I like your name a lot, SciFi Foods, because I’m a big Sci-fi fan as you can tell. What Sci-fi were you thinking of when you named the company SciFi Foods? What was the reason for that?

We did a lot of foundational work about who we are as a brand and what we stand for. SciFi Foods was one of the ideas that came out of that project. We’re thinking about the Golden Era of Science Fiction. Sci-fi is pretty dystopian, but in the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was a lot of exciting optimistic science fiction. Science fiction and Science can be viewed positively. We’ve done it before. It’s possible.

We’re thinking about shows like Big Bang Theory. For a while, Big Bang Theory was the most popular show in the world, which is crazy because it talks about Caltech postdocs. Who in the world would have thought that would have been possible? I also went to Caltech. It’s wild I have to say. It’s optimistic and very human. These are lovable nerds. There is a lot to relate to. We’re thinking of the friendly utopian future of Sci-fi. It’s a little whimsical and silly. If you look at our website, we have cows floating around.

It’s cheerful. We’re excited. That’s how we feel about the future. There is so much amazing stuff going on and it’s going to be great. I put that energy into our brand. The other piece is we want to also be very transparent. There are a bunch of companies that cultivated me. People tend to find generic names that aren’t very specific.

When you look at the media coverage of cultivated meat, everyone is like, “Lab-grown meat.” The science is the front and center. We’re proud that we make cultivated meat through science. That’s the only way it’s possible and that’s great. It’s more wholesome because of the science that we do across many different factors. We’re excited to share that with everyone, especially younger consumers who are way more excited about the future of food than older consumers who love transparency and authenticity. That’s the ideas that went into SciFi Foods.

I love the whole vibe and the website. I like the idea of utopian science fiction. We have a lot of dystopian out there. I still think there are some utopian elements that you can pick and choose from the different science fiction that’s available. Even something like the Minority Report, which came out a couple of decades ago. Dystopian but still a lot of interesting technologies that inspired a lot of people who are making a lot of the wearables. There is a lot of carry-over into the food industry when it comes to science fiction, too, like Star Trek has replicators.

I hate to break it to you. I don’t think the replicator is coming anytime soon.

I know. I can’t wait until it does. I’m looking forward to the post-scarcity society. I feel like as a human being, it’s going to be a fun time to live in. I do think the availability of meat to everyone is not too far different from a replicator idea. The idea is to give everybody the opportunity to have whatever meat they want. For a lot of people, meat is not something that they can realistically go out to the store and get.

Sometimes, I watched my budget when I first came over to California and tried to get sustainable ethical meat. I’m like, “This is expensive. I just going to eat some broccoli.”

If other industries make the prices come down or you can make that less expensive than rearing a cow from calf until slaughter, that’s something that would be able to give more people access to the protein that’s necessary. Who knows what that’s going to affect? That’s something that’s going to be an interesting world to live in. A lot of the democratization from a lot of these fundamental things like food, education, and stuff like that that we’re living in, that’s going to be an interesting world to live in.

Regardless, I know that the replicator is not happening. The 3D printing of what you’re offering is not too different from a replicator. If I wanted to have a steak and I wanted it to look like a swan, I wouldn’t be able to go and get a cow to make that. I would go to somebody like you and you’d be able to put the cells in such a way.

3D printing is an exciting technology, but it turns out to be pretty expensive when you think about it in terms of food because food is a commodity. It’s not practical to 3D print food unless it’s just for fun. You can’t buy 3D-printed food at a grocery store.

I’m not saying that’s available. In the future, there are all of these technologies that are going to be available once the raw materials are there.

You’re right. The cell biomass is the first starting point. In order to make meat, you need cells and that’s what we focus on. How do I make a lot of cells and delicious cells affordably? I wanted to give you another idea, a preview of the future of cultivated steak. It’s closer than you think.

What do you mean?

There are already companies in the plant-based meat sector that are working on steak products. They’re quite good when it comes to texture. You can arrange plant proteins in a way that gives you the impression of meat. One of the challenges that still missing is the flavor and that’s where you can use cultivated cells to mix in with these structured plant proteins and products to make cultivated steak sooner than you would think without the need for any new technology, which is pretty exciting.

That is certainly interesting. My frame of reference is from tissue engineering for burns. Many years ago, you could only make one layer of cells. Now you can have distinct layers of cells that have epidermis dermis subcutaneous tissue. That’s something that wasn’t available to us in the past. A lot of companies are out there that are making distinct layers which I feel is the next situation for something like me. Not only are you going to get that muscle component, but you’ll also have the tendon component and the fat component. All of those things together are going to make a much more similar meat experience. I feel like we’re in the first steps of this journey and that’s exciting to see.

Maybe people will change what they think about meat. Maybe we cannot think about it in terms of cows, chickens, and pigs anymore but we can abstract it a little bit. That’s entirely possible too. The way that we think about it and how we eat it can also change. This is a personal philosophical view. I’m not representative of Sci-fi. I don’t think we have to re-engineer the cow. We can abstract the cow.

What’s great about the cow? What’s great about meat? Can figure out efficient and interesting ways to produce that and create new food products that have great nutrition and great flavor. Maybe don’t look like an old-fashioned cow. Maybe in a hundred years, our grandkids will be laughing at us like, “Why are we eating cows? That’s so gross. They are cultivated meat products. Those are way better and way more interesting. You can have them swan-shaped. You don’t need to worry about a cow.” It could be great.

I agree. I always try to have that thought experiment where I’m like, “What in twenty years am I going to be embarrassed about doing?” It’s something that often comes in our dinner parties where we’re talking about stuff like that. A lot of people will say things like fossil fuels. I always bring up the idea of animal slaughter. That’s something that is so close.

There are cultures out there that are slaughtering dolphins. That’s something that is not okay for me and it’s not okay for a lot of people but the Overton window is going to shift. We’ll be looking at animals in general and this is not something that we want to be a part of as a society and as a species. Hopefully, things like what you guys are creating can come in and veer us away from that.

We’re working on making viable alternatives that people can buy at the grocery store. When consumers have the choice to get something awesome and a great price point that doesn’t involve any of that, then things can change.

I like the fact that you abstract it out to a way from the cow because when you take it out and it becomes a source of nutrition with these particular elements that we need, I feel like it allows for more creativity and options when it comes to food. I hope that’s one of the directions that we go to because so much of the industry is about taste. Taste in such a way that we continue to come back for this over and over again like fast food for example.

A lot of good things hit all of these pleasure centers in our brains such that we get so addicted to them, and that’s something that I want to have for the food industry. We’re eating not only for health but also for creativity and the experience. A lot of restaurants are trending like that and experiential dining, especially for a new technology like yourself. That’s probably going to be some of your earliest adopters. It’s like these high-end restaurants that you’re talking about that want to experiment a little bit.

We’re not thinking about high-end restaurants. We want to target restaurants that are more accessible to the average consumer, especially since we’re working on a burger product. We don’t need to go into fine dining. We’re thinking about more accessibility. All protein is so important for the future of nutrition and health. We know now that these high-carbohydrate diets aren’t doing anyone any favors. It’s driving this epidemic of metabolic syndrome. I’m excited to be working on technology that develops healthy proteins so that we can have more protein for humans to eat and cultivate better diets.

High carbohydrate diets are not doing anyone any favors. It is driving an epidemic of metabolic syndrome.

I had a biological anthropologist on. His thesis was interesting. He was very negative about the agricultural revolution of processed foods because he worried about the amount of force that is used to crush them. He feels like we’re eating too soft of a diet, and because we’re eating too soft of a diet, our jaws are not developing. That leads to a whole host of different issues.

There is that theory that’s out there. There is also a theory that goes even further back that he was telling me about. it’s the idea of the human brain expanding exponentially. A lot of it was due to the easy access to high energy like very densely nutritious food. A lot of that came from cooking and that’s the thing that I hope that we get out of this.

We’ve gone in the opposite direction a little bit, where it’s all about taste. It’s not so much about nutrition. For us to get back to the opposite side, we have to have something happen. Something has to change for how our actual food products are being made and delivered. Our whole theory of why we’re eating food has to be addressed. It’s not going to happen unless somebody changes it like yourself. There is too much bias and self-interest in the food company now.

It’s all incentive structures. I get it. If you’re a big CPG company making food, you want to sell more of it. You want to have your team of food scientists making it as tasty as it can be but that might not have the public health impact that we want more broadly. That’s an interesting question for individuals and society but also government. How do we think about the food system? Where do we put our incentives? Where do we put our money? What industries and sectors do we promote?

We’ve had 50 or 100 years of farm subsidies where we’re paying farmers to grow tons of corn and to overproduce corn, and then we have all this readily available input into the rise of ultra-processed food. We take the corn, split it apart into its constituent parts, and make Twinkies with it. We can choose to put our money somewhere else. That’s entirely possible. I live in the Bay Area. It’s the health and longevity epicenter of the world.

It’s one of the Blue zones.

Is it?

Are you close to Loma Linda? Is that in the Bay Area?

That’s more South.

Loma Linda is one of the Blue zones where people live the longest.

We’re in Blue zones. We’re all getting plasma transplants.

We’re the opposite in Boston. We’re the Red zone if that’s the Blue zone. People are leaving the hard lives up here. we drink our coffee black. A lot of people still smoke. It’s crazy.

Do you smoke?

Not me, but I’m just saying there are a lot of smokers in Boston. I don’t feel I see that in California as much.

No, we’re all off sugar. We’re trying to avoid carbohydrates at all costs. They can get a little extreme. There is interesting stuff happening. Ultimately, people can figure out how to change their health and their bodies in positive ways as more people figure out the role of the food system. it’s like, “Maybe the stuff that’s readily available we shouldn’t be eating because it doesn’t promote health.”

It’s complex. I’d love more help from society in government in general to move these things because I don’t think it’s fair. If you have a grocery store full of stuff that’s not health-promoting then consumers go in, they shouldn’t feel bad that they’re buying this stuff. That’s what it’s being sold to them. It’s hard to tell. I basically work in the food and nutrition space. Sometimes I even go crazy looking at these packages. I’m like, “Is this protein bar healthy or not?” I try to eat some eggs instead.

What are you doing in your own life? Are you on any particular diet or anything of interest?

I do intermittent fasting, so I try not to eat breakfast. I have a smaller eating window. I try to focus on healthy proteins and vegetables. I try to minimize how much processed carbohydrates I eat. I tried to most of the time focus on my vegetables and protein.

I’ve been trying a whole bunch of different stuff. I ordered a meal service now that sends you these little prepackaged meals that are theoretically more nutritious. I’ve been on it for a year now and I haven’t noticed a huge difference. I’m like, “Why am I bothering with this? I should go back to normal food and stuff.”

My problem is that I feel like there are so many delicious things to eat out there. That’s the issue. I see all of this amazing stuff and I want to try it. I feel like it’s hard to say no to that stuff. Even just nostalgic foods. I have a two-year-old and she wanted cereal so I’m pouring her cereal. I think it would be so nice to have this super-sugary cereal that she’s having also so I poured myself a bowl. It tasted amazing. It was so delicious. That’s the hard part. I would love to have something that tastes that good and is much healthier for us. That’s going to be the holy grail when we have all of that pleasure without any of the negative aspects of it.

I don’t know if it’s possible. It’s possible to train yourself to eat the food that’s available and for that food to be more nutritious. You could have had an amazing bowl of yogurt with some fruit on it.

It is possible to train yourself to eat whatever is available to you right now and make them more nutritious by experimenting and mixing things up.

That’s not the same.

It’s the same. It tastes better honestly.

It’s good. I won’t take that away from you.

You could put honey on it. It’d be so amazing.

It’s good but a lot of those high-sugar and high-fat stuff like In-N-Out. It’s designed to hit all of these pleasure centers. I could say no to that and I could live my life without having access to those pleasure centers being turned on. It’s a much more fun life and much more interesting to eat whatever it is that you want. That’s why I hope that companies like yours are out there and change it from the ground up so that I don’t have to worry about that. Get on it, Kasia.

We’re making hamburgers, though.

I love hamburgers. Hamburgers are one of my top foods.

Can you skip the French fries?

You can’t have a hamburger without French fries. That should be your number two technology where you make potatoes out of air. Zero cal potatoes, novel prize.

I will let the science team know about your request.

I’ll write them an official letter. This would be a personal. This is something that I want to handle personally. How do you like your burger? When you’re eating a burger, what’s your go-to?

I’ve won at least one burger cook-off.

Good for you. With the meat that you make?

No. We only do taste tests under informed consent so I can’t play with our product. I would like a traditional fast food burger like the In-N-Out Burger. That is like a Smashburger with onions and American cheese, ketchup and mustard, the hand leaf lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a boring bun. That’s my epitome.

I have fond childhood memories of eating at McDonald’s as a kid. My family came from Poland. We were poor when we first came to the United States. That was a treat my parents could give the kids every once in a while. They would take us to McDonald’s and I have great nostalgic memories of eating that food. Now I’m a little bit more highbrow. I like my In-N-Out but my son likes McDonald’s. I get him chicken nuggets there. I have not found anything that gets me excited. The McDonald’s had to McPlant for a while. I did order that a few times but I’m just getting him the nuggets. For me, I’ve moved on.

Three of my birthdays below the age of ten we’re at McDonalds. I have a deep-seated love for that place. I do a lot of international traveling and you’re out in this location for a week at a time. You come back and you see that McDonald’s in the airport. You’re like, “I’m home again.” You smell the smell. There is something about it that has a fun place in my heart. What I don’t like with burgers is they’re adding all of this extra stuff to it. The way that you had it is great. Only basic lettuce and tomatoes.

No avocado and bacon.

Putting an egg on it.


There is a place down the street here that’s known for this burger where they put a sunny-side-up egg. When you’re biting it, the yolk comes out. It’s too much. Let’s focus on the basics first. It was nice talking to you. We’re getting to the end of our time. I’d like to go over the three questions that we have with all of our different guests.

It was interesting talking with you about science fiction. That’s one of the things that I ask all my guests. For me, a lot of my inspiration comes from science fiction. I think of the utopian worldview that you talked about. That’s something that I aspire to. I’m excited. I look at the future in fashion because I think about all the things that have the potential to happen, especially when it comes to our daily lives of having less manual labor and more time to have interactions like this with different people. What are the science fiction pieces of media that have inspired you to where you are? What do you look toward and like, “That’s something that I want to replicate?”

I’m a Star Trek kid. I saw Star Trek Next Generation.

Me too.

That probably warped my mind.

A major mind for the better. It’s about morality.

These days, I’m more into science. There is so much cool stuff happening in science. My favorite daily email is from the Nature email update and you can get little vignettes about all this insane technology that’s happening. Innovations and scanning people’s brains and being able to start understanding what they’re thinking.

I know that can be challenging like the implications of that, but it’s so cool. All this organ transplantation that’s happening with engineered organs working to solve the issue of the lack of availability of transplant organs is so exciting. A lot of it is biology, too, but it’s a cool time to be in biology and biologist because we have so much technology that’s changing human lives. Mostly, I am inspired by science, but I grew up on Star Trek.

Same. I’m a big fan. I’m a fan of all science fiction and it’s important to look at the dystopian in the utopian. I don’t think there is a better utopian vision than the one in Star Trek where we’re living in this post-money and post-scarcity society where our daily life is about maximizing our potential and our human experience. I look forward to that day. Maybe not within our lifetimes but within our kid’s lifetime that they’ll be able to have something like that.

That brings me to my next question. I know you have a hard Science background, which I appreciate because so much talk is focused on stuff that I wouldn’t consider to be hard science like artificial intelligence and robots. Robots are an engineering feed but it’s not necessarily when I think of hard science, it’s about the fundamental understanding and building of new technologies. What are some things that you’re excited about other than your field? As you said, science in general, but when something comes in your newsletter about A, B, or C, it’s like, “That’s pretty awesome. I want to learn more about that.”

Living in the Bay Area, I’m into longevity. It’s so exciting what’s happening in terms of thinking about behavior modifications but also drugs that we can use to expand human health span. I feel like I’m a twenty-year-old and I can imagine a future where I’m 60 or 70 years old. I feel as awesome as I do now. That’s super exciting and something that I pay attention to.

As we get older and our body breaks down, life is not so fun. But with various longevity methods happening now, you can simply exercise and eat healthy to get a longer lifespan.

It’s interesting that a lot of that is behavior modification, too. It’s choosing what you eat and how much exercise you do that can have this ordinate impact. That’s exciting. Generally, sustainability. Carbon capture is cool. Thinking about, are there ways that we can sequester carbon from the atmosphere and help mitigate climate change? That is hard tech and there is a lot of stuff going on for people pulling CO2 and carbon out of the air and transforming it into useful things. That’s super interesting. Those are two biggies.

Longevity to me is super interesting. More so the age reversal rather than life extension. There is this guy. I forgot his name, but he is working on the Yamanaka factors, the cellular aging before a differentiates. It was so popular. He had a conference. Across from where I live, there is this conference center that’s right next to MIT.

For whatever reason, it always has these amazing conferences, but at this conference, this guy was talking. There were so many people that were in this huge conference room that it was back to the point where they had to call the fire department in and start clearing people out. There is a lot of interest there. This guy is like a Rockstar and he’s the lead researcher on this this type of age reversal. That’s going to be awesome because I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I feel every bit of this 40. I don’t feel like that. I feel like I’m 50.

You weightlift and run. I can get you a program.

That’s the problem. I do all of that. I did a Spartan race. I woke up and I was like, “My whole body hurts. I don’t know if I’m going to do this show.” I was close to canceling but I made it through. The point being is doing that strenuous exercise now has a hugely different effect on me. I’ve been doing the same race for four years in a row.

This race, I’ve had the worst recovery that I’ve ever had. A lot of it is for a multitude of different reasons. It’s because of my diet. I’ve been eating all those things that I’ve been telling you that I’ve been trying to avoid. I had a huge bowl of sugary cereal. The point being is I’m looking forward to the reversal aspect. I would love to live like this until I’m 60, but what I’m more excited about is the ability to turn back the clock. That’s going to be interesting. Last question, where do you see this industry in ten years, especially the food industry? What do you hope that you see out of it in ten years?

In ten years, products made through precision fermentation and cellular agriculture are going to start taking up legitimate space in the grocery store. We’re here at a turning point and, in ten years, you’re going to be able to buy various exciting things that you can’t now, but we’re close. I’m very excited about that.


FSP | Cultivated Meat


Me, too. I ordered these strawberries that are vertically grown in New Jersey and are the sweetest strawberries ever created. They’re built on a vertical farm. A very controlled environment. They concentrate all of the sugars into this thing. Supposedly, it’s 100 times sweeter than a regular strawberry. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I want people to know that that stuff is out there. It’s coming down the pipeline.

Hopefully, we could have a meat that blows your mind that’s synthetically grown from SciFi Food. That would be interesting to have. I’m looking forward to all these different food experiences. Thank you so much for talking with us about them. The best of luck to you. I can’t wait to have that burger that you’re finally going to get cleared.

I would love for you to send me over and I’ll cook it up the way that you tell me to. I’ll give you my honest feedback on it. Regardless, everybody, look forward to this new technology that’s coming down the pipeline. If you’re more interested in seeing what Kasia has to offer, check out her company, SciFi Foods. For those of you guys who are reading on a regular basis, we love having you. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, please like and subscribe. Thank you, everybody, for joining us and we’ll see you in the future. Have a great day, everybody.


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About Kasia Gora

FSP | Cultivated MeatKasia Gora, PhD. is the Co-founder and CTO of SCiFi Foods, a food tech company combining cultivated meat with plant-based ingredients to make burgers shockingly close to the taste of conventional beef.

Since completing her PhD. in Biology at MIT, Kasia has spent more than a decade working at companies that harness cutting-edge science to create more sustainable solutions for some of the world’s most pressing needs. Most recently, Kasia served as head of portfolio at Zymergen, focused on resource allocation for numerous R&D projects that leveraged synthetic biology to create value for external customers and internal product development.

Kasia is an experienced leader in the world of science with a multi-disciplinary background in industrial fermentation and business development. She is passionate about cross-functional team development and about achieving the rapid progress necessary for startup success.

Kasia lives in Berkeley, and when she’s not working to create the future of meat, she can be found putting her lab skills to work in her home kitchen to create gourmet food, drinks, and desserts for friends and family, or at the local food pantry getting food to people in need.


By: The Futurist Society