[LMB] Factory farms

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Wed Sep 18 06:22:54 BST 2019

---- On Tue, 17 Sep 2019 15:45:35 -0700 Howard Brazee <howard at brazee.net> wrote ----
What would be the effect of expanding habitable Barrayar if factory farms was much more efficient than traditional farming? 

Betan-style vats are almost certainly far more efficient than traditional animal husbandry; we are capable right now of making meat substitutes that are as good as (cheap low quality) real ground beef, and it takes far less energy, far fewer nutrients, and far less everything than actually growing the critter does.  Give it another few centuries of development and it should be both better quality and more efficient yet.  The question is not efficiency/cost to operate; the question is start up costs, the learning curve, and market preferences.

Barrayar has the animals already.  It has all the systems in place--growing the feed, breeding and raising the animals, slaughterhouses/butchers, transport, etc.--for growing live animals to be slaughtered for meat.  It has all the people who know how to do all of those things.  It has people who are used to eating meat that used to be a real live animal on the hoof (or wing, or whatever).  It has the whole package, with enough capacity to provide all the meat it needs.

Things it doesn't have (or doesn't have much of): the factories with the vats to grow the meat, people who know how to operate and run the factories, and customers interested in buying vat meat.  It's a lot harder to start from scratch than it is to maintain the existing market.

Now, growing plants, that I don't know.  It may be that growing plants in the soil is still the most effective and efficient large-scale way to grow plants sufficient to feed a planetary population.

Beatrice Otter

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