The move to factory farming was an intellectual error based on the unthinking assumption that what works for assembling automobiles must surely work for raising animals. It’s just another example of the constraints our tiny human brains perpetually labor under. In reality, rather than looking to hype-headline nonsense about VC-backed artificial meat startups, we can note two basic facts that change the equation entirely:

One: we’re eating too much meat. We simply don’t need to produce as much, and a better price-demand function would ensure we cut back, just as happened when alcohol and tobacco prices were raised in various nations in order to reduce consumption of those harmful products.

Two: because farmers need to use a LOT of antibiotics etc. when animals are crammed together inside vast concrete bunkers, it turns out to be a very expensive proposition. As the Dutch discovered not so long ago with pig farming, it is possible to get approximately the same yield by letting pigs roam naturally because the massive expense of doctor visits, antibiotics, etc. is removed so the cost/yield equation remains financially viable.

If more farmers can be encouraged to raise more animals in more natural conditions then the total environmental costs and risks of meat production will fall while prices may rise only a little. Ideally, of course, prices should rise a lot in order to reduce overall consumption. This in turn could, if the big food companies can be induced to cooperate, mean an overall improvement on the atrocious typical modern diet of McSlop and Kentucky Fried Cancer and Diabetes-Cola.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.