A $330,000 Burger??
|August 5, 2013||Posted by Sarah under Food|
As I was getting ready for work this morning, I saw this LOVELY story about a $330,000 burger on the Today Show. Have you heard about this?? No? Well, it’s lab-grown meat. Yes that’s right…test tube meat. Well more like petri dish meat, but you get the point. A researcher from the Netherlands, Mark Post, has spent $330,000 and 5 years growing meat in a lab from the stem cells of cattle and a cocktail of chemicals. Sounds appetizing right? Well I’m a bit
grossed out skeptical…
I was a vegetarian for 8 years of my life and I have to admit that there are times that I still struggle with the idea of eating animals. But my health greatly suffered from being a vegetarian because I wasn’t getting the right nutrients (I was not a smart vegetarian by any means!) so I went back to eating meat. And I must admit, I love the taste of it! How can you not LOVE bacon?! It would make sense to me that I would like a product like this because no animals are actually harmed in the making of it. Stem cells can be extracted from a live cow through a biopsy. But the more I look at that photo of the “meat” in a petri dish, the more it grosses me out!
Post sees this as a solution to what could become a global food crisis in the world. Cattle attribute to about 25% of the greenhouse gasses that are emitted into our atmosphere and the cost of raising commercial cattle is increasing as the cost of grains rise. By eliminating the need to raise billions of animals for meat, the food they eat can become available for human consumption, in turn lowering the prices. This meat also will use considerably less energy to produce. Interesting concept. However, it is estimated that is will take at least a decade to perfect this lab-grown meat and make it commercially available.
While environmentally this looks like it will be a large improvement over the giant factory farms that exist today, what impact will this have on the global economy? Cattle farming is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone, so a man-made product like this could have the potential of crippling a large sector of the economy and putting many people out of work. Which benefit is greater?
So today, this new lab-grown meat was taste-tested for the first time. While the meat is grown from cattle stem cells, it grows in a “broth of chemicals” and is then engineered into strips that resemble animal muscle. The “meat” is then mixed with a combination of beet juice, saffron, caramel, breadcrumbs and other additives to get the color and texture as close to real meat as possible. Well all of those things are making my gag reflex work over time…blech!
The brave testers who tried the pan-seared burger this morning described the flavor as intense and that “it wasn’t unpleasant.” Hmmm…not unpleasant isn’t making me want to run out and try it. One thing I didn’t think of was how the texture would change due to the absence of fat in the burger. Fat is what makes a burger juicy and sinfully delicious, so once you omit that you have a denser product. One taster described it as an “animal-protein cake.” Another oh so appetizing description.
Scientists admit that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve both taste and texture of the product, so I’m sure it will be quite some time until any of us have the opportunity to taste one…if you dare. I think they need to stop showing that photo of it in a petri dish…maybe then it will be a little more appealing. Oh and add some bacon to that sucker…just as long as that’s not grown in a lab too!
Here is the coverage from the Today Show this morning:
How do you feel about this test tube meat? Would you try it?