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Pacific Standard, September/October 2016.

Pacific Standard, September/October 2016.

The Biography of a Plant-Based Burger

(September/October 2016)
As a guy who is simultaneously the only meat-eater in a household of vegetarians and a (very small-scale) producer of grass-fed beef and pastured pork, I am really hoping the Impossible Burger hits the mainstream.

But here’s where the definition of sustainable food gets murky: Some of the plant ingredients that go into the burger require heavy inputs of water and fertilizer. If those vegetable ingredients are being fed with petroleum-based fertilizer, a whole host of environmentally questionable practices are going to continue. Actually, these practices will vastly increase as the Impossible Burger comes closer and closer to offering traditional ground beef serious competition.

By attempting to shift our diet away from beef, Impossible Foods will contribute to some very probable social, economic, environmental, and nutrition crises unless its business model is developed with a more holistic view of that burger and fries with a side of coleslaw. Replacing factory-farmed meat with factory-farmed, highly processed almost-meat is no real solution to a very difficult dietary conundrum. Except, of course, that the vegetarian majority in my family will definitely cheer if the Loon is as scrumptious as the lean, meaty burger on my plate.
—Jason Velázquez

Ghosts of White People Past: Witnessing White Flight From an Asian Ethnoburb

(, August 25th)

I am a Chinese American born and raised in Cupertino, California. I believe diversity is important for the development of critical thinking, considering alternative points of view, and fostering a society of acceptance and awareness. But I would not say diversity is an inherent value of traditional Asian-American families, especially the older generation. I think traditional families in these ethnoburbs barely even consider that value, and would rather promote a culture of career success and reputable accolades — often leading to political disengagement and the lack of social awareness. My experience in a student body of 70 percent Asian descent was sheltered and insular, developing an ignorance for racial and class disparities that I will be the first to admit I was a part of. So the question becomes: Do all Asian-American families also value diversity in their neighborhoods and schools? Or would they rather put their own foot forward by moving into homogenous and academically driven neighborhoods?
—Jacob Lui

The author is absolutely right calling “white flight” racism. But, I get it. It’s not so much about hate as it is aversion to change. I’m presently working in a city in Southern California that’s (relatively newly) highly populated by Asian groups and it sometimes feels like I’m not even in America. Lots of folks don’t speak English, there are lots of smokers, and there are a ton of “weird” Asian businesses. It’s just different. Perhaps I should visit some of these countries and try and gain some appreciation of their culture.
 — Colin Robertson

Spoiler Alert

(September/October 2016)

People want the impossible. I worked on a project to supply some food items to the Skylab space program. A foodborne disease in space would obviously be life-threatening, so we took every precaution, including sampling (and thus destroying for analysis) half of all our production. But that did not bring the risk to zero. The only 100 percent safe food supply is one which has no food in it.
—Rick Fischer

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