from the world's big
How is the passion economy changing the way we look at jobs?
The rules have changed, and so have we.
ADAM DAVIDSON is the cofounder of NPR's Planet Money podcast and a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he covers economics and business. Previously he was an economics writer for The New York Times Magazine. He has won many of journalism's most prestigious awards, including a Peabody for his coverage of the financial crisis.
ADAM DAVIDSON: I think a lot of people don't realize that he world we have lived in for the last hundred years is just a blip in human experience, that it started to feel just normal that people work in big companies, people have things called a job and a career path and that people make more money in their forties than they did in their twenties. And they'd make even more money in their sixties and that kids make more money than their parents did. And that there's this sort of general sense of progress. That's this weird little thing that happened to happen in the twentieth century and really would have been seen as utterly confusing and unlike basic human nature at almost any other time in history.
And there's a lot that was wonderful about that blip. It really transformed the world. Far fewer children died in infancy. Mothers didn't die giving birth. People lived much longer lives, they had more to eat, they had more comforts. Things like pain relievers. Things like international travel, international communication. All the things that we associate with the modern world came about because of the widget economy. Because of that blip.
But we're now shifting away from the widget economy into a new kind of economy. So what fueled that growth in the twentieth century was the mass production of the same sort of thing, getting better and better and making the same stuff faster and faster, cheaper and cheaper and getting it to more places. And that is a form of growth that is revolutionary. It's more growth than ever existed by far anytime in human existence. But it is about sameness. It's about turning people into variations of the same thing. You have a job. It has a title. You have to suppress who you are to satisfy the needs of that job. Products are not designed to match some particular person's unique interests and passions. Coca Cola is for everyone everywhere on earth. Ivory soap is for everyone everywhere on earth.
And this new economy, the passion economy, it comes out of the widget economy but I see it in most ways as a real advance, a progression from the widget economy where the secret to growth, the secret to economic opportunity is not making the same thing billions of times as quickly and cheaply as possible, but creating special things that only some people want but they want a lot. They want it in a way that nobody wanted the widgets of the widget economy. And that is a totally different structure of an economy.
It means probably still having some big organizations but also a lot more smaller companies, entrepreneurial companies. It means a much more chaotic but I think ultimately probably more satisfying career path where you're not just junior ad sales and then you're ad sales and then you're senior ad sales and then you're manager of ad sales. But rather as you're finding your unique passions and the things that you uniquely provide your career might kind of bounce around a little bit. You'll be finding who you are, who your customer is, who your audience is. And it won't be quite as linear. I do think overall for people to understand and embrace the passion economy it will be better. You'll make more money in concrete terms but I think it will be more chaotic, a little more confusing, a little more confounding at least according to the rules we have because the rules we have are the ones that were made for the widget economy. And this economy is wildly different.
- The widget economy has given way to something entirely different: the passion economy.
- Whereas the previous economy was fueled by mass production and homogeneity, growth in the passion economy involves more specialized products that less people want more intensely.
- This shift creates more dynamic, less linear career paths that evolve and change as you do. Ultimately, this will lead to more fulfilling and better paid work.
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- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
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