Vol 1, Issue 7 July, 2019

Three questions with...
2019 National Fellow Chase Purdy

Could you tell us a little bit about your current project and why you chose it?

My project explores the brainpower, money, politics, and cultural implications of lab-grown, cell-cultured meats. There's an edible space race happening right now in which a handful of food technology startups around the globe are pushing to bring these new foods to market. The lofty goal of these companies is to replace the monolithic animal agriculture system, which has been pegged for being inhumane and a big-time contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Whether they find success is yet to be determined, but if the popularity of plant-based alternative meat products such as Beyond Meat and the Impossible Foods burger are any indication, there's a good chance consumers are curious about eating real, slaughter-free meats. I started writing about this topic because I was intrigued by the science and also the people involved. Behind the lab coats and millions of investor dollars is an evolving vegan movement, which is using the powers of entrepreneurship and capitalism to achieve their goals. It was too fascinating a story to ignore.

There are strong, and varied, opinions about what can be called "meat," particularly as it relates to the science and process of producing cell-cultured meat. Can you shed more light on this debate?

I think there are a couple of things to keep in mind when thinking about this debate. The first thing is that cell-cultured meats are very new, so there's going to be a natural conversation around what to call this stuff, which uses a process that bucks thousands of years of animal husbandry practices. That debate is healthy and important. Then there is the political debate, which is driven less by genuine wonder and/or curiosity, and more by the animal agriculture industry feeling threatened. This debate is currently being taken to statehouses across the U.S., where agricultural lobbying groups are trying to get bills passed that limit what cell-cultured meat companies can call their products. This strategy isn't new, and if history is any indication, it likely won't be successful. If consumers are interested in cell-cultured meat, they'll try it and buy it no matter what the animal agriculture industry wants to call it.

If the cell-cultured meat companies are successful in replicating meat to a point where there is a negligible difference between natural and cell-cultured, what difficulties do you foresee in getting society to embrace it, and what do you think will be the most significant drivers that will push Americans to move towards embracing it?

It will likely boil down to cost. If cell-cultured meat looks, tastes, cooks, and feels the same as conventionally-produced meat, I think consumers will be interested just because of the environmental and animal welfare benefits. But they have to be able to afford it, and there's still a lot of work to do on the production side of cell-cultured meat to drive down the cost producing it at scale.

Hot Off The Press


The book tells the ambitious tale of how one private company consolidated power over half a century—and how in doing so, it helped transform capitalism into something that feels deeply alienating to many Americans today.

Publication date: August 13. Available for pre-order.

By: Christopher Leonard, Class of 2014

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Two Cents

When writing a long-form article or book, how do you decide what content needs to be cut, even if reluctantly?

1: Killing your babies is never easy. But you have to be ruthless. I read each draft carefully—multiple times—and try to be honest with myself when I hit any dead spots. I have people I trust read the piece or the chapter, as well, and point out where it drags. I try to always ask myself: "Is this really in service of the narrative, or am I just trying to show off how good a reporter I am or how clever I am?" And I always keep in mind what one writer friend told me: "Just the cream." — Rick Wartzman, Class of 2007

2: It is hard for me to cut. This is where an editor or trusted reader helps me the most.  — Thomas Chatterton Williams, Class of 2019

3: When I'm reading over a draft—likely for the millionth time—I'll see what parts I want to skim through. Because if I want to skip that paragraph or section, the reader likely will, too. I also try to read my work aloud. Where I start to lose energy is also a hint that some cutting might be helpful. — Melissa Segura, Class of 2019

Two Cents

Patrick Radden Keefe's book, Say Nothingwon the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing. The win was covered by the Guardian.

Jill Filipovic wrote a cover story for Politico about Honduras, domestic violence, and the layered factors driving Honduran women to the southern U.S. border.

Katie Engelhart produced a short documentary for NBC News about the alternatives low-income American women turn to when they can’t afford clinic abortions.

Masha Gessen recieved the Lambda Literary Foundation's Visionary Award for her work on the global threat of totalitarianism. 

Two Cents
Hot Off The Press

3 New America events we recommend you check out. Now.



How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?

A discussion with 2016 Fellow Bina Venkataraman and members of Future Tense and the JustSpace Alliance about how to ensure that the “next frontier” is one that reflects our most humane and democratic values. Followed by a happy hour reception. Learn More


My Favorite Movie with Lucianne Walkowicz: Mars Attacks!

Join Future Tense and Lucianne Walkowicz for a screening of Mars Attacks! and a brief discussion on the ways it reflected our Cold War anxieties and our fascination with all things outer space. Learn More


Paying for Our Privacy

Join New America's Open Technology Institute for a panel on how legislation can and should change the rules surrounding online company collection of user data. Learn More

Hot Off The Press

A very sober and very frightening picture of the future of climate change, without hyperbole.
Anatol Lieven, Class of 

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I've been reading a lot of visionary fiction lately, sci-fi written by black women and people of color that imagines new, just worlds. I've been thinking about Toni Cade Bambara's words, "The purpose of a writer is to make revolution irresistible."
Assia Boundaoui, Class of 2019

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Sciutto sizes up savvily Russian and Chinese efforts to undermine American influence globally while stopping short of traditional war.
Joshua Geltzer, Class of 2018

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Free Swag

Fill out this tiny form for a chance to win a copy of Kochland by Christopher Leonard, Class of 2014.

(Please submit by COB Monday, July 8 to be considered)

Get swag!

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We are storytellers who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

The three who put this together

Clarke Reeves + Elizabeth Pankova + Awista Ayub

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