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A $330,000 Burger??

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?

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Sources:  ‘Intense Flavor’: The $330,00 hamburger that was built in a lab hits the spot; Lab-grown meat is here – but will vegetarians eat it?

15 Responses to A $330,000 Burger??

  1. If big food companies stuff extra unknown ingredients into food now can you imagine when it’s made in a lab. It can’t be trusted.

  2. Lab grown meat?! WTF! I would totally try a tiny bite though!!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted…Celebrity Calorie Conundrum Game ShowMy Profile

    • Yeah I mean, I’d probably have to try a small taste, but I don’t know about a whole burger. The whole idea of man-made meat grosses me out.

  3. To be fair, once there’s two of them, they’re only $165,000 burgers!

    I think it’s a cool idea – I’m just not sure I’d want to be the first tester.
    Jess recently posted…The Great Beringian Roadtrip part 2 – Featuring Beaver Creek, Bakeries, and Fun With International BordersMy Profile

  4. I just don’t know about this. I’m not vegetarian, but I’m one who likes “meat on the side” (credit that to Nikki Dinki).

    Yes, growing meat in a lab would be fought tooth and nail by the cattle lobbyists (i.e. solar, wind, etc. being fought by the fossil fuel lobbyists), but it would certainly have a detrimental effect on the industry if it were to take off.

    That said, I think what we need is moderation. Eat less meat and more (local) fruits and veggies, and the greenhouse emissions from the cattle (and feed) industry would be reduced dramatically. Maybe the meat in a petry dish becomes an alternative…but not THE only option.

    We’re such an all of nothing society, aren’t we? How about just a little of this and a little of that?

    By the way, given the feedback, I don’t think I’d eat this meat as a burger; rather, I think I’d try it in a stir fry or a sauce.
    Pete Olson recently posted…Marathon Training Week 4 Recap: Searching for an Oasis!My Profile

    • Very good points Pete!
      I completely agree that moderation is the way to go. A well rounded diet consisting of mainly LOCAL food could solve many of these problems. Eating food that is in season locally would greatly reduce greenhouse emissions and we wouldn’t have to rely on so many of these factory farms. Plus, it just tastes better!
      Thanks for the insight 🙂

  5. The idea of growing meat in a labs for commercial consumption would probably have a ton of unintended consequences. (In addition to hurting the cattle industry!) Every diagnosis from gluten intolerance to autism is on the rise in America and I can’t help but wonder if it’s due in part to chemicals in the processed and/or genetically modified food we eat.

    Stating the obvious here, but if the Western world changed its meat consumption habits, there wouldn’t be such a demand for greenhouse-gas producing beef cattle. I’m not even talking about going vegetarian. Imagine if everyone in America just did “meatless Monday” — that would lower our demand for meat by 1/7th. Not all of that would be beef necessarily, but it would still be a step in the right direction.
    Jessie recently posted…Review of LIQUOR BARON’s Dragged Off (Self-Released)My Profile

    • Such a good point about cutting back on meat. If we all did that one small thing it would make a HUGE difference!

  6. Ewwww. While I theoretically support anything that would undo some of the damage caused by the meat industry (to our bodies, the environment, everything) I’m not sure that this is a step in the right direction. Perhaps causes more problems than it solves.

    • Totally agree…who knows what strange issues it will cause. Everyone is against GMOs…isn’t this taking it to another level?

  7. Ooooo no thanks!! I will go meatless before I start tampering with nature!! LOL
    Jenny recently posted…The Corner Restaurant in Milford!My Profile

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