The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 3, 2014

Mike Pound: Fake meat may have finally arrived

I wanted to be skeptical, but I couldn’t.

When I read the story in The New York Times about fake meat, I figured it would be worth a chuckle or two, and it was, to a point.

I mean, the idea that there are people out there working on meat-like products that taste like meat but actually don’t contain meat is sort of funny. But deep down, I have a feeling that in a few years, I might be stuck having to get on the outside of something like a faux beef fillet or maybe something called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Pork Chop.”

I mean, before I got married I never knew that it was possible to have a meal that didn’t contain meat. Then one day, after I got home from playing in a daylong volleyball tournament, my new wife presented me with a meal that consisted of salad, bread and French onion soup.

I know!

“Where’s the meat?” I asked my wife.

“There is no meat,” she said.

“I see,” I said, although for the first time, when I said “I see,” I didn’t see.

Nowadays, we often have meatless meals. Heck, I once made a pasta salad and put broccoli in it, and — please don’t tell anybody this — I liked it.

So what I’m saying is that I need to be careful of what I mock because someday the joke will be on me.

The headline was: “Fake Meats, Finally, Taste Like Chicken.”

When I read the headline, my first thought was, “Did they really need the second comma?” But then I remembered that my comma command is limited at best, so I ignored the extra comma and read the story.

According to the Times, Whole Foods recently accidentally mixed up the labels on a chicken salad made with real chicken and a chicken salad made with something called “chick’n,” and no one noticed the difference.

What that means, according to the story, is that the world of fake meats has come a long way from the days when veggie burgers used to taste like cardboard.

I think it would behoove the fake food industry to come up with better names for their products.

By the way, I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’ve used the word “behoove” in a column. I guess it would behoove me to make a note of that fact.

But back to the fake meat thing. Do the people who make “chick’n” really think that merely taking the “e” out of “chicken” will make folks OK with the fact that they are eating something that is chicken-like and not actually chicken?

What else do they make, “be’f”?

I suppose the good news is that the people developing fake meat know that they have a naming problem. The Times story points out, for instance, that the fake meat people hate the term “fake meat,” but they don’t know what other term to use since, according to the story, “they haven’t come up with a catchy alternative to ‘plant-based protein.’”

I was going to suggest that the fake food people use the term “spam,” but I think it’s already been taken.

When I was a freshman at Emporia State University, the dorm cafeteria on Fridays would serve something called “shrimp shapes.” I once asked what was in the shrimp shapes and was told that I didn’t want to know.

I bet it was something called ‘shr’mp.”

Even though it’s easy to make fun of fake meat, the sad fact is I’m guessing it won’t be long before it’s as common as the breakfast taco.

And I’m OK with that.

Look, we eat much differently than our grandparents did, so I think it’s reasonable to think that our grandkids will eat differently than we do.

It’s the circle of waistlines.

And who knows, in 20 years, maybe on a sunny Sunday afternoon I’ll crank up the smoker and whip up a couple of slabs of rib shapes.

Made with real po’k.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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