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Meet the Advisor: Carolina Bluguermann

Lorena Mucke and Dr. Carolina Bluguermann

Lorena Mucke, CEO and founder of the Educated Choices Program and its initiative, had the opportunity to travel to Argentina and tour the food tech lab of Dr. Carolina Bluguermann, a cultivated meat consultant for multiple food companies. The two sat down to discuss Dr. Bluguermann's journey into this field, her latest projects, and some advice for those interested in a career in this food technology. Highlights from this interview can be watched here or at the bottom of this page.

Dr. Bluguermann is researching and developing cultivated meat for Granja Tres Arroyos, Argentina's number one producer of chicken meat. While this company sets a precedent for being one of the region's first major meat retailers to invest in cultivated meat, it is among many conventional meat producers supporting this novel food technology. JBS, the largest producer of meat in the world, is currently building the world's largest cultivated beef factory in Spain and has announced plans to invest $60 million to further the development of cultivated meat in Brazil. Tyson Foods, the second largest meat producer, has also financially invested in the industry through food tech startups, including Future Meat, OMeat, Believer Meats, and UPSIDE Foods, which recently received regulatory approval to sell its cultivated meat in the United States.

"They are interested in developing technology of their own. They've been following this trend, like most of us in the world, for a few years now, and they say, 'We are not sure what the future will look like, but it seems that cultivated meat will be a part of it, and we want to be a part of it as well.'"

Cultivated Chicken Prototype - Granja Tres Arroyos
Cultivated Chicken Prototype - Granja Tres Arroyos

Within the first year, Dr. Bluguermann's team developed their first prototype, a hybrid of plant-based meat and cultivated chicken. When asked one of the most commonly asked questions about the product, she smiles, "It tastes very good." Her team can improve the flavor by adjusting the amounts and types of fats in the meat. The technology also allows researchers to improve the meat's effect on human health by adding higher amounts of omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, or lower amounts of saturated fat or cholesterol, for example. There are countless possibilities for the applications of cultivated meat, including the ability to develop meat from endangered or extinct species, but Dr. Blugermann wants to first focus on matching the nutritional profile of conventional meat. "You need to make a product that resembles what they're familiar with" before improving it, she states.

"Food is a very personal relationship. One that you need to understand...You have to be extra transparent. In the case of this technology, it's really, really different...We have an extra effort to make to show that it has a lot of benefits."

Beyond the obvious benefits of cultivated meat, like its ability to reduce land use, water use, environmental pollution, and personal and public health concerns, among others, Dr. Bluguermann is interested in its potential for societal and economic change on a global level. While Argentina is capable of producing more than 3 million metric tons of beef and veal meat each year, not all countries have the land and other resources required to produce the amount of protein needed to support their population. "For some countries, being able to produce their own protein and not having to import it, solves a national economy problem. It also brings the possibility of decentralizing animal protein production."

Despite the many benefits and solutions cultivated meat can provide, public acceptance of the product remains a potential challenge for the industry. Dr. Bluguermann points to the Educated Choices Program (ECP) as an example of the education efforts needed on the topic. "It's really, really important the work that you are doing," she tells ECP's CEO Lorena Mucke. ECP provides science-based education about the impacts our food systems have on human and planetary health, empowering viewers to make healthier, more sustainable food choices. Two of ECP's offerings, "What is Cultivated Meat?" and "Future of Food," focus on emerging food technologies and highlight their potential impacts and benefits on society. ECP also established this initiative to serve as an interdisciplinary knowledge base on the topic of cultivated meat.

Recent reports have found that interest in cultivated meat is increasing dramatically in some areas and that familiarity with the product is one of the biggest indicators in the acceptance of it. Mucke has seen firsthand how education about cultivated meat sparks interest, especially in younger audiences. "They usually ask us, 'So where can we eat this?'" Mucke laughs. Students also want to know how they can join this new and evolving industry.

"Most of the people working in this field were working in different areas, and now they are reapplying their knowledge," Dr. Bluguermann shares from experience. She received a Master's in Biological Sciences and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry, where she studied human stem cells. She was initially drawn to this field because of its uses in regenerative medicine, particularly to improve cardiovascular health, a global concern given that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death. As the cultivated meat industry advanced, she became fascinated by the applications her knowledge and experience could have on its future. "The challenge itself was very interesting," she reflects. "It started as 'this is completely science fiction." There were really very few people working on this, but they kept going, and they kept going...and now we have market approval."

Several universities are adding food tech courses and degree programs to support the growing need for this specialized workforce. The world's first textbook on the topic was published earlier this year and features several of's advisors as contributing authors. ECP has seen an increase in interest and questions from high school students and published the Student Starter Pack, a cultivated meat career guide, to help them better prepare and learn more about the opportunities available to them. "Now we have new generations of students who are being educated specifically for the needs of the industry," Dr. Bluguermann says excitedly before giving an insight into working as a professional in the industry.

"The community of cultivated meat is really open. Even though most of them are private companies, the people who work there are really eager to share their results...Everyone is really open to collaborate, and most of the people in this field are behind the idea that this will only move forward with collaborative work and you need to include more people..."

Collaboration with other cultivated meat companies, scientists, and researchers has been crucial for Dr. Bluguermann's team, which is currently comparing the nutritional profile of their cultivated chicken prototype to the conventional product. Over the next two years, she hopes to grow her team and have the ability to produce cultivated meat on a larger scale. She offers some advice for those looking to join the future of food, "Don't let go if you feel like something is impossible or if you have the whole world against you. Just go for it."


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