In this week's Time magazine, John Cloud reports on a soy product that not only tastes like chicken, but shares textural similarities to a real bird too (Tastes Like Chicken: The Quest for Fake Meat). Scientists at the University of Missouri are behind the new food; it was announced this past spring that after more than a decade of research, they had solved the elusive problem of getting a soy product to feel like meat in the mouth. Fu-Hung Hsieh was one of the biological engineers working on the dilemma -- at his previous job at Quaker he had figured out how to soften the raisins in the company's granola. There is a whole lot of processing involved in the new faux chicks, but the basic ingredients are soy protein, flour, and water. (If you want to see soy powder turn into chicken, go to time.com/fake_chicken)
One problem so far is that this soy chicken has to be heavily salted in order to get that chicken-y taste (according to Cloud). The article ends with a musing upon the next step in the evolution -- in vitro meat: "Actual flesh that is sliced away not from a living animal but a petri dish and which offers all the taste with none of the livestock slaughtering."
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The in vitro concept is real, but estimated to be at least five or ten years away from fruition. Just the same, this is all very good news for chickens.