If all living organisms on Earth evolved from a single cell 3.5 billion years ago, it stands to reason that they’re a lot alike. And, scientists have noted that fungi are characteristically even closer to animals than plants, which helps Eben Bayer, co-founder and CEO of MyForest Foods, argue that fungi are a better meat substitute.

“Mycelium is basically an inside-out animal. Mushrooms are quite fleshy, so they really have a lot of the characteristics that you find in an animal, unlike plants,” he says. 

MyForest Foods is turning mycelium, the root-like network of a mushroom that absorbs nutrients from the soil, into a plant-based—well, fungus-based—meat. The mycelium tech company will grow slabs of the mushroom material in its new 78,000-square-foot vertical farm in upstate New York—the world’s largest for mycelium, according to the company—where, for optimal growth, it keeps conditions precisely like a misty morning forest. 

Called Swersey Silos, the farm is part of 120,000 square feet of new infrastructure, which includes silos to grow substrate and the production facility where those fungus slabs are being transformed into bacon. The company views alt-bacon as a significant gap in the alternative protein market, which it believes mycelium’s gristly texture can help fill. It aims to serve its imitation bacon to a million customers by 2024. 

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