People could soon be eating grass instead of steak and cheese as British scientists develop ways to convert pasture into food.
Researchers say weed could be a “silver bullet” for Britain’s food supply, boosting production by up to 50 percent and turning Britain into a net food exporter.
A £2million project being run by the University of Bath and Harper Adams University is developing technology to convert grass into edible proteins, oils, fibre, vitamins and minerals by breaking down the grass’s structure and later Yeast being fed to the grass.
dr Richard Green, director of technical research at Harper Adams University, said the potential of the three-year trial was “absolutely enormous”.
“Possibly we could consider a 25-50 per cent increase in UK food production, making the UK a net food exporter,” he told the BBC’s Farming Today programme.
“Grass is massively underutilized in the UK. Right now the only way we have to process it is by feeding it to animals to produce either meat or milk. What we are proposing is a system that will be ten times as efficient.”
He said raw materials like palm oil and soy protein could be produced in the process. “We want to replace pretty much everything that is brought into the UK.”
Meat and dairy production has declined in recent years as more people go vegan or try to make healthier choices.
According to figures published in the Lancet Planetary Health magazine, the average person in the UK ate 86g of meat a day in 2019, up from 103g a decade earlier. Red meat in particular saw a sharp decline, with people consuming an average of 24g per day, compared to 37g in 2009.
Meanwhile, the amount of milk drunk in the UK has also declined, although the decline has leveled off in recent years. Brits are drinking around 50 percent less milk than in 1974. However, the amount sold fell by just 1.5 percent between 2015 and 2019.
dr Green said the researchers “are not against beef and lamb production,” which he says remain very important parts of agriculture.
“When I’ve spoken to people, I’ve found that there’s a huge consensus that we need to change our diets, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely moving away from meat and dairy-based diets. It means reducing the amount of meat we eat and reducing the amount of dairy we have.”
He said the work of the Pasture to Plate project offers farmers a “brilliant new market for the weed they produce and it could be even more lucrative than producing meat or dairy”.
“In terms of UK agriculture, UK food production and UK food resilience, this could potentially be the silver bullet. The whole environment is likely to change. We will see new weed factories where we currently have dairies. “
It’s coming under pressure in the UK food ecosystem as the war in Ukraine causes shortages of certain items on shelves, including cooking oil, and pushes up the prices of certain commodities such as wheat. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey warned of “apocalyptic” food prices earlier this year.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/06/01/eat-grass-solve-britains-food-crisis-scientists-say/ Eat grass to solve Britain’s food crisis, scientists say