Minnesota company investing in startup that grows real meat... in a lab

Bill Gates and Richard Branson are also investors.

It sounds like sorcery, but it's real: a Silicon Valley startup is making meat – honest-to-goodness, real meat – without slaughtering a single live animal. 

And a Minnesota agricultural giant, along with guys like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, is getting in on that action early. 

On Wednesday, Memphis Meats (which, despite its name, is based in San Leandro, California) announced that it has raised $17 million dollars in investor funds, a development it calls "a big step towards the dinner table."

Interestingly, there's only one food company in that group of financial backers, and it's none other than Twin Cities-based Cargill, Inc.

With the move, Cargill seems to be taking meat alternatives seriously, even though its one of the biggest beef producers in the country. In fact, Cargill recently sold off its last feedlots to "invest in plant-based proteins." 

And now, the $17 million question: what is Cargill getting with its investment in Memphis Meats? 

Memphis produces what it calls "clean meat," which is real meat raised from animal cells (as in, grown in a laboratory), but "without the need to feed, breed and slaughter actual animals."

This video gives a basic idea of what the company does, and what to expect from the final product:

By the way, the guy talking is Uma Valeti, the company's CEO and a former Minnesota cardiologist. He trained at the Mayo School of Health Sciences in Rochester, and according to his LinkedIn, taught medicine and radiology at the University of Minnesota. 

More about 'clean meat'

According to Memphis Meats, the product would require "up to 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, land and water than conventionally-produced meat."

This, the company adds, is also good for animals, and "public health" as well. 

"And most importantly," Memphis says, its meat is "delicious."

“We believe that consumers will continue to crave meat, and we aim to bring it to the table, as sustainably and cost-effectively as we can," Cargill told the Washington Post

Cargill did not say how much it invested in Memphis Meats, however. 

And now the biggest question of all: when and where can you buy it?

Unfortunately, Memphis has yet to "commercialize" its product, Fortune reports. And it could take a while, because the big investment is just an initial round of funding.

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