The History and Future of Chicago Protein Production
About the Session
The presentation highlights Chicago’s narrative arc from the former meatpacking capital of the world to a leader in sustainable protein production and the companies driving this transformation. It begins with a brief history of Chicago’s Union Stockyards, emphasizing the necessity of radical change from a business perspective. Despite the continued demand for meat, the Stockyards went under due to various factors, including the invention of refrigerated railcars that allowed producers to slaughter in the suburbs and bring meat into the city. Additionally, the environmental impact, including sewage, pollutants, and animal waste, made Chicago residents susceptible to disease, leading to the decision to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Consequently, Chicago lost the meatpacking business as it was no longer economically viable to manufacture, resulting in a significant loss for the city.
The presentation then highlights Chicago’s redemptive arc as a leader in sustainable protein production, showcasing the alternative protein companies that have chosen to locate in the city. Chicago's rich agricultural, biotechnology, and culinary ecosystems make it an ideal location for these companies. Through their innovative approaches and commitment to sustainability, these companies are driving the city's transformation and positioning Chicago as a prominent player in the sustainable protein industry.