I Think I’d Prefer My Beef Uncultured, Thanks

Could This Happen (who happens to be a vegetarian), has been following the possibilities of artificially created food, including 3-D printed pastries and burritos and lab-produced meat.

Now, the latter possibility has been officially taste-tested.

Food scientist Hanni Rutzler said the lab-grown meat that debuted in London earlier this week has “quite some flavor, quite some intense taste.” Notice she didn’t say that the flavor or taste are good. She did concede that it’s “close” to meat. Yay?

lab meat

The second official taster, author Josh Schonwald, confirmed that the texture “has a feel like meat,” and then he compared it to a McDonald’s Burger and a Boca Burger, neither of which are meat.

The lab-grown burger is less fatty than one would get from a cut of real beef, and the premier lab-grown meal took three months and about $325,000 to make. Does it at least come with a little toy?

The technology behind the synthetic meat was developed by Dr. Mark Post, head of physiology at Maastricht University, who made the burger by stringing together tens of thousands of protein strands grown in petri dishes from cattle stem cells.

lab meat production

Post’s concerns about the long-term future of meat production and consumption echo those of environmentalists and PETA activists, particularly when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, widespread agricultural effects, and the increasing appetite of carnivores. “Meat demand is going to double in the next 40 years and right now we are using 70% of all our agricultural capacity to grow meat through livestock,” Post said. Lab-grown meat could join the ranks of free range and organic meat in terms of its sustainability and desirability. And, of course, cost.

Post’s work was funded (anonymously, and then not-so-anonymously) by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who calls the process by which synthetic meat is made a technology with “the capability to transform how we view our world.” And how we eat it, apparently.

Now that the burger’s been tested, the project will focus on improving the taste and lowering the cost to the point that Whole Foods clamors to stock it on its shelves, right next to the $9 organic ketchup. Until then, I think I’ll limit my food adventures to 3-D printed cupcakes.

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