Meat Harvesting: What Does It Mean For The Future of Mankind?

In most cases, things are as they appear to be. That’s no secret, but when it comes to the food we eat, we take a lot for granted.

Take, for example, the last time you sat down to a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. There are different types of pasta, that’s a given, but when it comes to the meatballs, it usually boils down to beef, turkey, or any of a few other common varieties of meat. Not anymore.

The Future of Meat

Americans love meat. Not only that, but our love for meat has only grown in the past few years.

In fact, this desire has grown at such a pace that many believe that our supply won’t hold out into the next few years.

At that point, it’s hard to determine where we will get the food we eat, especially when it comes to meat.

Fortunately, a few scientists, like the team at Memphis Meats, have come up with an answer – harvested meat.

Image: flickr

Image: flickr

Americans and Meat: A Love/Hate Relationship

American’s love for meat is virtually insatiable. Despite this, we have grown to dislike much of what makes meat possible.

These include things like environmental damage, health risks, antibiotics, fecal matter, pathogens, and other contaminants that find their way into the meats we so enjoy.

Many people believe that in order to enjoy meat we need to either tolerate these negatives or make up for them in other ways, such as paying much higher prices for organic and range fed products.

The good news in this is that there is another option on the horizon, one that is currently being produced by a small number of companies that are combining the scientific know-how of Silicon Valley with the tastes of hometown America.

Meat Harvesting

The field that is making this new option in food possible is called meat harvesting, and far from being a cloistered ivory tower of science, it is revolutionizing the way we eat and changing the way many people think about meat.

Instead of a stockyard, meat harvesting begins in a petri dish located in a lab, where a cell taken from the muscle of an animal is reproduced until it becomes an actual piece of meat.

You could think of it just like human reproduction, except instead of using a human egg that splits and grows in its mother’s womb to become a human, it’s a single cell of an animal that splits and divides until it becomes a piece of meat. The only difference is that no animal was harmed, much less killed, in the creation of harvested meat.

Imagine

Anyone who is concerned with the fate of the planet would naturally consider the ability of people to have enough food for everyone to eat.

It follows that enough food to feed everyone would have to be produced, which is a huge problem.

The answer, of course, is to tap into a source that will grow at a pace that equals or exceeds the rate of demand.

Fortunately, meat harvesting promises just this since the cells used are capable of multiplying so fast and so many times in a protein-rich medium that, at least in theory, a single cell could produce enough meat to feed everyone on the planet indefinitely.

To do this, cells that are allowed to multiply in a cultured environment are modified to grow around a “scaffold,” which continues to be fed nutrients.

At this stage the cells can also be stretched until their size and protein content grow. These resulting cells are then harvested, seasoned, and cooked to be consumed as a boneless piece of meat, whether it be a sausage, hamburger, or even chicken nuggets.

How Does Harvested Meat Taste?

Simply put, harvested meat tastes just like regular meat because, in a certain way, it is meat.

It’s just that harvested meat is not produced as a result of the death of an animal. The birth of harvested meat is the result of culturing, just as so many varieties of yogurt and cheese were created when people discovered how to culture milk.

Where is Harvested Meat Available?

At the present time, harvested meat related food is only available in certain limited forms, such as egg whites and milk.

The production of meats is still in the early stages of research. In fact, the very first available harvested meats might be as parts of other food products. Exactly how the later forms of harvested meats will appear commercially is open for debate.

When Will Harvested Meat Become Available?

This is another million dollar question. As is discussed above, there is still considerable amounts of research that needs to be done before harvested meats become commercially available. The good news in this is that there is significant research being done today in laboratories around the world.

The first harvested meats that become available will probably be in processed forms, while whole meats such as steaks, will take longer. It’s a lot easier to make a meat ball or a sausage than to reproduce a tasty steak eye fillet.

Isn’t Harvested Meat Not Really Meat, But a “Substitute”?

Yes, but only in the way that yogurt, cheese, and similar products are not really milk.

The truth is that harvested meat is taken from a culture of meat cells, just like yogurt, cheese and other products are created from a culture of milk.

Will Vegetarians Eat Harvested Meat?

This is another million dollar question, depending to a great extent on how strict a vegetarian is about their food guidelines.

Just as some vegetarians will consume milk and cheese products since they are not really meat, some vegetarians will probably accept harvested meat because it is not taken as the result of killing an animal. Again, this is a question that is open to interpretation.

How Do Those of Different Religions Feel About Harvested Meat?

This is another tricky question that depends on interpretation of dietary laws. Some faiths rely on the concept of only avoiding certain meats, while others avoid certain meats since they involve killing of an animal.

It seems natural that since harvested meats is not a direct derivative of meat, some faiths will accept it just like Seventh-Day Adventists avoid meat, but allow certain meat substitutes to be used.

There is still plenty of work to do to achieve true meat harvesting as an answer to many issues.

Much like electric cars we think meat harvesting is the way of the future – what do you think?

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