On an ordinary spring morning in Columbia, Missouri, Ethan Brown stands in the middle of an ordinary kitchen tearing apart a chicken fajita strip. “Look at this,” he says. “It’s amazing!” Around him, a handful of stout Midwestern food-factory workers lean in and nod approvingly. “I’m just so proud of it.”
The meat Brown is pulling apart looks normal enough: beige flesh that separates into long strands. It would not be out of place in a chicken salad or Caesar wrap. Bob Prusha, a colleague of Brown’s, stands over a stove sautéing a batch for us to eat. But the meat Brown is fiddling with and Prusha is frying is far from ordinary. It’s actually not meat at all.