A burger recently presented to the public right now is the opposite of the $1 value meal, but could very well be the future of meat. But would you eat it?
The True Cost Of Meat
Meat without a doubt is an expensive food. No, not when you buy it at the grocery store, where it’s as cheap as never before, but when you take the total production costs into account.
First of all, cows don’t live on air – producing 1 lb of meat requires putting about 7 lbs of feed into them. That feed naturally has to be produced as well, translating to 1/4th of the annual world harvest going into the stomachs of livestock and poultry. Were we all to become vegetarians over night, the world immediately could sustain 4 billion people more.
Second, cows of course also get thirsty and the crops they ate didn’t grow on dry sand either, translating to about 8,000 L of water used in the production of that 1 lb of beef. In some places this means that ground water levels are getting lower and lower, possibly turning them into future deserts.
Finally there also is the entire “is it ethical to kill animals for our enjoyment” discussion, but, no worries, I’m not going into it. Ethics are subjective and the facts suffice entirely to make a point: people won’t stop eating meat, consumption in fact increases, but if we keep going like we are, we likely will have quite a bit of a problem.
But now Dutch scientists came up with what could very well be the solution to all aspects of that problem, provided you can (quite literally) stomach it.
They took stem cells (basic cells that can turn into specific tissue) from cows and multiplied them in a nutrient solution. Then they combined them with elastic collagen and put them into dishes providing “anchor points” to attach to and turn into very tiny strips of muscle fiber. Producing about 20,000 of these strips resulted in approximately five ounces of hamburger meat and cost about $400,000.
I admit, picturing and describing how this worked isn’t exactly easy. So here is a nice video by the Telegraph:
How Does It Taste?
In the preview picture from the video above it doesn’t look that much different than any other minced meat, does it? Ok, beside the fact that it’s in a petri dish. But how does it taste? Earlier this month it was served to two volunteers:
So the “lack of fat” was a problem, huh? It’s not too often you get to hear that these days.
Would You Eat It?
Mark Post, the researcher responsible for this project estimates that lab-grown meat will be ready for public consumption in 10 to 20 years. What we don’t know is if the public will be ready, too. When asking myself, “would I eat this?” I have to answer: I don’t know.
Picture courtesy of the University of Maastricht and David Parry / PA Wire.