Awake in the canals

 Unable to sleep, a view from an Amsterdam houseboat in the quiet hours of the night.

Unable to sleep, a view from an Amsterdam houseboat in the quiet hours of the night.

 
 A spray of color along the Old World passages that circle Amsterdam's city center.

A spray of color along the Old World passages that circle Amsterdam's city center.

AMSTERDAM — For four days I got to live on a houseboat in a canal in the Netherlands. I was six hours removed from my native timezone, tucked away in one where I barely slept, opting instead to stare dreamily out my bedroom window by night as passing boats rippled the water in a vain attempt to lull me into another place.

There's a saying in that tiny country (though from whom it originated I don't know) that, "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands." It makes sense taking into consideration the human ingenuity it took to forge a country below sea level and behind seawalls. It also applies to the area of my research. What better place on earth to foster the idea of an environmentally-friendly meat, grown without animals, as a means of making a more efficient food system?

But I'm already familiar with the story of Willem van Eelen. It was the daughter of the late-van Eelen with whom I sought to meet on this trip, along with a handful of entrepreneurial spirits who are working hard to make cell-cultured meat a reality.

My journey took me deep into the city center, to its north, and also to the south of the country, where in a small town the treaty was signed that officially formed the European Union in 1992. 

The trip was invaluable, and I'm increasingly excited to share what I'm learning about this very particular corned of the food space, and the people who inhabit it.


UPDATE: In the previous post I'd mentioned the issue of so-called 'clean meat' being kosher. The conversation around that topic is evolving. My latest on the subject in Quartz.