The picture of “Paul” is Paul Stamets, The Godfather of Fungus.
Huh -- I guess that's the source of the name of the engineer on Star Trek: Discovery (also Paul Stamets). He works with the "mycelial network."
Amazing podcast. Well worth a listen.
I wouldn't be surprised if the HN crowd is a bit hostile to FeministFrequency, but if you can skip over that you may enjoy this guest-podcast (meaning none of the FF regulars have anything to do with this particular podcast episode) by Emily Taylor, a mycologist-turned-game designer, where she explains all of the mycology-related issues of the show:
I don't think it's controversial to say that the Ven diagrams of start-up loving nerds, and the type of entitled young men who have an axe to grind with FF are likely to have a non-empty intersection.
It certainly was a weird part of the otherwise fascinating podcast.
Turns out portobello mushrooms contain a decently large amount of agaritine, which can be made in to hydrazine, which can in turn be used for explosives or rocket fuel. Agaritine is also fairly cancerous/mutagenic to humans.
That's my best bet as to why he wouldn't talk about it, though the threat to his life I would think is more for comic effect.
The flammability is measured by the fact that they burn very slowly, like charcoals. On the flip side, they easily take sparks and aren't necessarily obvious that they're burning until they start getting pretty hot. While this makes them ideal for lighting fires with in damp areas, I would think it makes them a poor choice for headwear -- though of course cotton and felt hats take to flame pretty easily too.
Sadly it seems the products based on it did take off enough for it to become a thing (especially since he seemed to be doing his best to also ensure the local economy of the places where this material would be produced would benefit from it). The project got turned into a foundation that tries to support a local economy and design community, so who knows, it might make a comeback in a few years.
More recently Veenhoven has been developing pigments from discarded tulip flower heads, and fabrics based on algae.
Prepared properly, they have jelly-like texture and taste earthy. Great in soup and spicy dishes.
Fresh from farm: https://imgur.com/05LFWnq
Final product before cooking: https://imgur.com/tqICpVR
It can be identical with synthetic vs natural meat. Price can make the difference, and we can still reduce massively the amount of livestock we breed (e.g. make the farms more environmentally-friendly through regulation)
Having just been on vacation in Malaga (highly recommended), Jamon Iberico Bellota -- the highest-quality ham from acorn-fed black iberian pigs -- is absolutely, genuinely so superior to lesser hams that it's not even funny. There is just no comparison.
It also costs at least €130/kg even the smallest local ham stores, so yes it is prohibitively expensive, you can expect to pay at least twice that for the genuine stuff, if you're not in Andalusia.
How much of the taste is because the diet, and how much is because of the breed? Who knows, but I think it's a combination.
The genetics of the "iberian black pig" are different in a surpsiging way. Studies have shown that their meet contains a lot more monounsaturated fats (The good oil, like olive oil) than other pigs. When raised on acorn and free-roaming, their bodies carry out more endogenous lipolysis. So it's considered a healthy meat to consume (and is raised sustainably to boot).
Bellota (acorn) the diet. You can find intermediate categories like "50% raza ibérica" or "recebo" for both.
If you're ever in Malaga, hit up Azabache in the old part of town. One hell of a shop for ham and cheese and a bit of seafood.
Not that I necessarily disagree with your overall point, though.
Considering that most of US beef comes from factory farms, the concept of the "happy cow" is nearly mythological. Given the choice, I would rather not exist than play those odds.
But I could be wrong. Just speculating. Better than plastic for sure if enough strong and can be certified non-allergenig or a cause of asthma.
But on the plus side a leather jacket can last a lifetime. And they cost mid-hundreds to low-thousands for a decent one so people aren’t buying as many of them as they would a $15 plastic / polyester throwaway jacket from wal mart.
(For the record I'm all for eating meat, but I agree that beef is unsustainably bad for the environment compared to other animal options like poultry and eggs.)
As long as the demand for some product causes the animal to be raised, the undesirable parts will become by-products.
A competitor for leather would depress the price of animal leather, which would tend to raise the price of meat, probably disproportionately for the best cuts. Forelegs, brains, and chitterlings would go up a few cents a pound, while tongues and tenderloins would go up by dollars per pound.
That might encourage people to eat less meat, but it might also encourage them to substitute the cheaper cuts of meat--which include the skins. Rawhide soup, anyone?
If we mostly eliminate beef (in favor of artificially-grown beef, for instance, which might be a reality in 10-20 years), that'll make cowhides much, much more expensive, so people simply won't be getting leather car seats, leather coats, etc., except maybe for extremely high-end markets.
I'm assuming here that by mentioning it in the same sentence as you say beef is bad for the environment, you are talking about being for meat production on a global scale, and not just for your personal preference.
This is a false problem.
Clothes are more than fashion. Leather extracted from dead animals is a big ally against animal cruelty and I'm not trolling. Lets remember why we use it. It saves millions of worker humans from having horrible injuries, painful deep cuts and mutilations.
Could workers rely equally in mycelium for not losing a finger or a leg by a saw if they stumble?
Is mycelium flammable? When I'm using an arc welding torch I want to wear a solid >1mm leather apron. If something goes wrong, leather will save my arms and body from a severe burning. Can filosophy or whisful thinking do the same for me?.
I would not hire a vegan worker if they stubbornly refuse to wear protective clothes arguing that we have pleather that "looks the same" (and burns like gasoline). Would be really irresponsible on my part to hire them.
> on the plus side a leather jacket can last a lifetime, vs polyester throwaway...
100% agree with this
I wear leather gloves, but wouldn't hesitate to use a knitted Kevlar alternative, especially since it would insulate much better.
Here are some options I've seen but I really have no idea if they're good enough:
To me, the question is not whether the alternatives would be as good as leather but would be a good enough alternative to leather.
Obviously, it all comes down to balancing needs and risks. I just thought I'd point out how you can meet or exceed one requirement (flameproofing) but potentially create a new risk in the process.
It depends of what she/he consider protective gear. Kevlar is fine. Anything that is regulated, lawful, well tested, reliable and covered by the assurance is fine. Those new materials can't still be trusted at the same level and you don't want to be the first to discover in your company that they are acid permeable or burn like a torch when react with some chemical
To let some of your employees work with a lower protection against accidents than other employees, would be negligent and easily prosecutable in court. The non-vegane parents of a vegane killed in an accident would not doubt a second to sue you in this case.
But since they did not mention durability anywhere on the marketing speak, that means even their marketeer couldn't find a way to lie about durability qualities. Unfortunately nothing to see here :(
AFAIK its also grown by mould, from culture. But, it forms as a mat on top of the Kombucha fermenting liquid.
Mylo is also a more sustainable option than synthetic leathers, most of which are made from polyurethane or PVC, These so-called ‘pleathers’ are manufactured using numerous toxic chemicals. While not proven to be dangerous to humans during use, these toxic chemistries persist in the landfills and groundwater where they end up.
Reading elsewhere, it doesn't look like Kombucha is a pleather. If not, then they are different processes for creating different materials that are substitutes for leather.
Leather as you know it are combinations a few different (known) structural proteins secreted from mammals between skin cells, after the skin cells themselves have been removed, and the proteins become chemically glued together (cross-linked). The majority of that protein is collagen.
Plether is a plastic fiber (petroleum derivative) that is spun and processed in such a way as to have an appearance similar to the final leather product (kind of, close enough). It's not protein-based in any way.
This new leather, 'Mylo', is a protein-based 'fabric' where the base protein is secreted by fungi rather than mammals. However, fungi are similar enough to mammals evolutionarily, that the proteins they secrete are evolutionary related to those secreted by our own cells to make our skin. The primary protein in both cases is collagen. Additionally, fungi genetics are easily manipulable, so you can actually insert the DNA that encodes for mammal-like collagen, other proteins found in animal leather, or proteins with new or completely different functions that would never show up on the skin of a mammal (color, water resistance, enzymatic capabilities, etc.).
tldr: Pleather is nothing like animal leather chemically - but has some similar bulk properties. This new MyLo is chemically related (evolutionarily) to animal leather, but ultimately comes from fungi. But because it's genetically known, it can actually include new capabilities that cannot be found in animal leather.
The Quorn meat analogue is another product made from compressed mycelium. I've had "chicken" nuggets made from it. They're...not bad, but as far as mycelial structures go I prefer mushrooms.
Proof: website: https://www.ecovativedesign.com/
From personal experience, I had a leather jacket which I got in my first year of college (2008) and wore until it was stolen from my car in early 2016, when it was still in nearly-perfect condition (although the zipper got worse). I replaced it with a pleather jacket which has already lost most of the material on the right elbow and may soon develop a hole.
So I hope this mushroom-derived material will be at least somewhat more durable. What I really want to see is a sort of fake leather made from a more resilient polymer, such as polyetherimide or one of the other "high-performance polymers". Until that situation improves, I think I'm going back to cowhide.
How about Corfam? It was promoted as 'wearing like iron.'
Remember the song from "Oklahoma" about the "Surrey with the Fringe on the Top"? It says, "The dashboard's genuine leather." So what was artificial leather in 1905 Oklahoma? Something like cardboard with wax-paper veneered on, IIRC. Is Mylo better than that?Geniuses been trying a long time to do this. Even money that we'll have tomatoes with leather skins or cows that are born with 'Wilson' on their sides so footballs are easier to make before anything exists that is a better leather than leather.
Top it off with durability that can seriously last a lifetime and look better with age, there's no real competition in the synthetic leathers that comes close to the real thing.
I just really wish there was a faux-leather option that looked and performed as well as a real-leather jacket.
It's just the nature of 2-wheeled vehicles of all kinds.
I'm curious about the different approaches between Bolt (who've so far at least been focused on fermentation) and Modern Meadow - versus newer smaller players like Provenance.
How do we get to a world where we can stop doing that? Or do we already live in one and not everybody knows?
Don't know if it works in other countries I assume it's different in USA, maybe affects damages?
I wonder if this is the same thing, and then they just dye it.
It usually looks like this, but sometimes grows into like a sheet between the bark, and wood.
I'm assuming this also means finding out how long 'til it disintegrates.
One sibling comment mention durability. But otherwise I find it's very heavy, cold, not breathable, sensitive to water and doesn't really look that well.
Sure I do prefer suede office shoes over normal leather, but that's about it. There are probably some good industrial use cases, but I much prefer Gore-tex type of materials and especially Merino wool. It's breathable, doesn't attract smell, somewhat water resistant, doesn't hurt animals too much and is close to cotton. I am rarely into clothing brands, but Icebreaker and Allbirds are making really good stuff that I've been wearing non-stop for years now.
I do some leatherwork for fun and there's a lot of things that make it hard to replace. We'll see how it holds up when stitched.
I'm very open to trying it out, though. And maybe an upholstery waterproofer would do the job.
We at Serotiny are already collecting protein domains from organisms with various capabilities - including water solubility, hydrophobicity, enzymatic capabilities, covalent attachment sites (for dyes), light-activated properties/crosslinking/dissociation/etc. And all of those protein domains we're collecting should be 100% compatible (+/- a fair bit of a tooling-exercise) with both Bolt's leather and their silk.
So it should get fun once they have a solid and stable 'platform' up and running. They will be able to incorporate most any property from nature with an existing proof of principal, not just any property form mammalian hides.
From the description (and it isn't much) I'm guessing that this is going to drape much like felt. Is that close to leather? Well it is closer than most woven fabrics but leather and felt behave much differently.
I would also expect that this is going to cost far more than actual leather does.
Really the bar is set quite low for fake leather being waterproof.
Source: I work with a lot of leather.
Would love to see micrographs of the finished materials. Fungi possess wonderfully dense cobweb-like fibres. A terrific example of highly connected random graphs in nature!
Perhaps that defeats the purpose of mushroom based "leather" though? You might be able to grow the skin artificially, but it will still need to be tanned at an environmental cost.
...my impression (not dispelled or even challenged by their marketing materials) is that we currently have effectively surplus hides as a side effect of raising animals for meat, milk, and other purposes.
So when they say:
> Livestock use an astonishing 30% of the earth’s entire land surface and cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, than all transportation methods. Put simply, as disposable incomes rise around the globe, we simply can’t meet the demand for meat — and leather consumer goods — using resources available on the planet.
That seems to be about 90% true (but irrelevant) and 10% questionable. Livestock are very expensive environmentally, and as the world gets richer we will certainly struggle to support the current meat-heavy western diet for billions more people. But that still means we're going to be producing an enormous torrent of hides (more now than today). Are we really going to struggle to find enough hides to meet global demand for leather good? Prices for raw inputs have been remarkably flat for the past ~20 years (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/WPU04190108).
Even from the perspective of minimising animal cruelty, leather from animals that would already be raised and killed for meat or because they were ending their useful life on a dairy farm isn't especially problematic.
> We carefully control the mycelium’s growth conditions to produce a substrate that can be cured and tanned into a soft, supple material that looks and feels like leather.
So it still needs to be cured and tanned. Which no doubt helps it be a great leather substitute, but much of the cost (monetary and environmental) of leather isn't the hides, it's the curing and tanning process, which can use some pretty harsh chemicals. Another reason to be skeptical that this is a huge improvement environmentally.
I also note there's no real discussion of price. If this process can turn out finished leather more cheaply than traditional methods, that's a big sign this is more efficient environmentally. If it can't (and the silence is interesting), it raises the question of whether this is actually worse for the environment. (Which wouldn't be that hard to imagine!)
In short: Totally cool! But so far it doesn't look like a "we're going to get rich while saving the planet" kind of thing, more like a "maybe some vegans will pay a premium for a really good fake leather jacket" kind of thing. Also good! But not as amazing as they try to make it sound.
And there are startups addressing each of these, independently of one another.
It's not that it has a throat to cut or a brain to kill.