"We're Americans," observes the Royale's Branze. "Our culture is based on convenience. I don't care what anybody says about slow food."


Match adds a new wrinkle to what Michael Pollan calls "the omnivore's dilemma."

For environmentally and health-conscious eaters, Match would seem the ideal meat substitute. It's low in fat and cholesterol, good for the environment, and its manufacture doesn't necessitate the killing of animals. But it is also not a natural "whole food."

Holland molds Match chicken, mixed with bread crumbs, into a cutlet, which will be stuffed with a Mediterranean filling made with vegan cream cheese.
Holland molds Match chicken, mixed with bread crumbs, into a cutlet, which will be stuffed with a Mediterranean filling made with vegan cream cheese.

Location Info

Map

Vin De Set Rooftop Bar and Bistro

2017 Chouteau Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63103

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Lafayette Square

Terrene

33 N. Sarah St.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

Lucas Park Grille

1234 Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63103

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - Washington Avenue

Schlafly Bottleworks

7260 Southwest Ave
Maplewood, MO 63143

Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks

Region: Maplewood

Chris' Pancake & Dining

5980 Southwest Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Dogtown

The Royale

3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63139

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - South City

Duff's Restaurant

392 N. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

The Market at Busch's Grove-CLOSED

9160 Clayton Road
Ladue, MO 63124

Category: Grocery Stores

Region: Ladue

Helen Fitzgerald's

3650 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
Sunset Hills, MO 63127

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Crestwood/ Sunset Hills/ Sappington/ South Lindbergh

Whole Foods Market-Town and Country

1160 Town and Country Crossing Road
Town & Country, MO 63017

Category: Retail

Region: Town & Country

Details


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"When it comes to food, I never eat anything artificial if I can help it, and this would definitely fall into that category," Marion Nestle writes in an e-mail. Nestle is a professor in the department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, and the author of a number of books on nutrition, most notably, What to Eat.

"Delicious as it may be — never having tasted it, I couldn't say — it reminds me too much of Soylent Green," continues Nestle, referring to the 1973 cult film about an artificial wonder-food that turns out to be made from people. "People eat these things because they think they are healthier. Personally, I think a little meat from humanely raised animals has an appropriate place in human diets, and that these things are not necessary."

Joan Gussow, the foodist, goes further: "I am disturbed by, alarmed by, put off by and do not eat highly processed food," she says firmly. "I don't believe in catering to people's tastes. I would much rather see someone make the effort to find a rational, moral source of meat than go through the trouble to make pretend meat."

Gussow gets her meat from a farm in upstate New York and keeps pictures of the cows and pigs she eats on her refrigerator door.

Burgess finds Gussow's suggestion entirely impractical. "Sure there are happy cows out there," she says. "But it's highly doubtful that there are enough happy cows eating grass to sustain 6 billion people."

Most of the meat Burgess hopes to replace with Match does not come from those idealized, sustainably raised animals. The majority of the meat, she notes, comes from animals raised on factory farms and killed in slaughterhouses. "There are only eight plants that produce more than half the meat in this country," she says. "They each process 3,000 cows a day, and it all goes into one big mixture. In one handful of hamburger, you have flesh from a thousand different towns."

Connie Diekman, director of nutrition at Washington University and a past president of the American Dietetic Association, believes that because Match contains both soy and wheat protein, it is a fully adequate replacement for meat. "Soy is a comparable source of all amino acids," she explains. "It's comparable to animal protein. Wheat and corn have the amino acids that the beans are missing. Now it becomes easy to get more protein."

Recently, a number of studies have raised questions about whether soy is indeed healthy. It has been found to raise estrogen levels in men, cause asthma and allergy problems in babies, and increase rates of dementia in old people.

When Burgess first started her research, she attended a three-day conference on soy. "I realized that there is a lot of soy in a lot of different foods we eat," she recalls. "It is used in, ironically, many meats that are sold to school lunch and other programs, to increase the level of protein content. There are a myriad of studies on the benefits and downsides of eating soy, and both seem to require eating extreme amounts of it."

Diekman concurs. "You're supposed to eat between five and seven ounces of protein per day. That could be from meat, fish or nuts. Or you can replace all your protein intake with soy. The problem is that some people look at soy in a typical American fashion: If some is good, a lot must be better."

But Susan Allport, author of The Queen of Fats, is not sure Match contains the omega-3 fatty acids she considers necessary for a healthy diet. "Meat substitutes, such as soy and wheat gluten, do nothing towards providing us with the essential fats we need," she writes in an e-mail. "Grass-fed meats have more omega-3s and fewer saturated fats than their grain-fed counterparts and pose much less of a health problem."

Much as Burgess tries, Match itself is not made from completely nutritionally unimpeachable sources. For one thing, it uses genetically modified soy.

Says Burgess: "Given the soy markets, we have to buy what we can buy. We can get 100 percent non-GMO [genetically modified organism] soy, but we would have to import it from Europe, and that would be counter-sustainable. I have mixed feelings about genetically modified food anyway. If we're able to make a crop stronger and use less water and herbicides, we should do it."

For the growing number of people with wheat-gluten allergies, Match is still not an adequate meat substitute, as Burgess is well aware. "We have three products right now that we can make gluten-free," she says. "But I haven't been able to contract with a gluten-free plant."

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