Many of us crave the scent and taste of grilled meat. Even staunch vegetarians seek out imitation meat products that simulate the look and flavor of animal protein.
But it is also the case that the meat industry is a brutal business both for the livestock involved and for the environment. Thus it is no surprise that people are looking for ways to satisfy our taste for meat that are based in the laboratory instead of the factory farm.
You’ve probably heard about these ideas already: test tube meat, laboratory meat, cultured meat. The thought of such things creeps us out. There is a definite “ick factor” that may be difficult or perhaps even impossible to overcome. But there are companies out there who believe that lab-grown meat can ultimately disrupt the global food supply.
One of these, called Memphis Meat, just received seed funding in Silicon Valley to launch its effort to bring cultured meat products to market. The company was founded by a cardiologist, a stem cell biologist, and a biomedical engineer who runs a chain of barbecue restaurants in the Memphis area. It has already demonstrated what it calls the “world’s first cultured meatball.”
It isn’t clear how energy-efficient growing laboratory meat is, but it is most likely much better for the environment than conventionally farmed meat. Experts say that cultured meat is a more sustainable alternative.
Memphis Meat plans to create sausages and other meat products that utilize cultured meat in recipes designed by famous chefs. The plan is to have products on the market within five years. Will people want to eat them? Only time will tell.
Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats’ blog.
‘Laboratory Meat’ from Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.