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It's THE DELICIOUS.
November 30, 2009 8:42 PM   Subscribe

SCIENTISTS have grown meat in the laboratory for the first time.

and with a little further extrapolation...
In-Vitro Meat will be fashioned from any creature, not just domestics that were affordable to farm. Yes, ANY ANIMAL, even rare beasts like snow leopard, or Komodo Dragon. We will want to taste them all. Some researchers believe we will also be able to create IVM using the DNA of extinct beasts—obviously, "DinoBurgers" will be served at every six-year-old boy's birthday party.

Humans are animals, so every hipster will try Cannibalism. Perhaps we'll just eat people we don't like, as author Iain M. Banks predicted in his short story, "The State of the Art" with diners feasting on "Stewed Idi Amin." But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines.
BONUS /. & electric sheep [animal 57]

also see:(previously 1 2 3 4 5)
posted by kliuless (94 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
O NO YOU DIDN'T
posted by liketitanic at 8:44 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


So far the scientists have not tasted it

Key phrase.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:46 PM on November 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


So far the scientists have not tasted it, but they believe the breakthrough could lead to sausages

vegetarians rejoice
posted by nola at 8:46 PM on November 30, 2009


I am all for this. For all the normal reasons, like how horrible and cruel factory farming is, and environmental reasons, and all of that.

... But really, I want vat meat so I can eat people.
posted by strixus at 8:49 PM on November 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


Taking communion will be a lot more interesting.
posted by bradbane at 8:52 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Who the fuck does Science think they are? Jesus? What, next they'll be able to make BREAD in a lab TOO! What an outrage.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2009


But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines.


Creepy and sexy. Just how I like it.



She: So dahling what part of my delicious anatomy will you sample tonight then?

He: My precious little raspberry, I think I will sample your liver with a fine a Pinot Noir.

She: Fantastic!! Grrrrrr..........
posted by Skygazer at 8:53 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


slant jinx
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:54 PM on November 30, 2009


I don't think this is anywhere near ready for prime time despite their assertions about 5 years to market. The flavor of meat, particularly red meats like beef, doesn't come primarily from the muscle tissue but from that tissue plus the fat, blood vessels, blood, and all that good stuff.

Just growing a hunk of muscle tissue would be nearly inedible. Unless you're one of those people who throws a hunk of beef into a pot and boils it into a grey hunk of bland, in which case hey problem solved.
posted by Justinian at 8:54 PM on November 30, 2009


I have no idea why, but now I have the mental image of Pillsbury Meat, sold in the same canister as their biscuits. Just uncoil the wrapper, poke the seam, pop the tube, and presto! There's yer tube of vat-grown meat! Slice into rounds and cook well.
posted by ErikaB at 8:54 PM on November 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


I find it interesting that they need to exercise the muscle, though it completely makes sense. I assume actually exercising is not needed to gain muscle mass and that there should be someway to mimic this if you could figure out the various chemicals the brains sends to the muscles to tell them to get bigger. I'm going to go a step further and say this is probably a hard problem, far beyond growing muscle mass in vitro, and if anyone could figure it out they'd make money that would make Vioxx look like a pauper. Good to see sausage companies investing this kind of money in pure R&D though.
posted by geoff. at 8:57 PM on November 30, 2009


The Republican National Committee is rejoicing at the possibility of actually being able to grow their 2020 VP candidate in a bastard farm.

Palin/Freeh '20, securing America in the hands of the strong!
posted by bunnytricks at 8:58 PM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's too bad there isn't some kind of edible biological material that could be grown directly from base nutrients and sunshine....that could really change the world.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:58 PM on November 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


Justinian: But we can make fake fat (hydrogenated plant oils) or a number of other things, and I bet faking the taste of blood is pretty simple. Just need something kind of iron-ey.
posted by floam at 8:59 PM on November 30, 2009


Isn't veal unexercised meat?
posted by codswallop at 9:00 PM on November 30, 2009


it's a pity the shroud of turin isn't real - just think what the catholics could do with that ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:01 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meat, one must remember, is muscle. Soon there will be giant industrial-scale vats of it.

"We have a flex on sector seven. I repeat, a flex on sector seven. At least ten people injured."
posted by Anything at 9:01 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


The nutritional profile will be different. For example omega-3 can't be synthesized.
posted by stbalbach at 9:03 PM on November 30, 2009


Not too long ago, animals were raised on weeds, pests, scraps, or on pasture. Now animals are raised in feedlots on industrially grown, cheap-oil-fueled corn and soy (perhaps grown on newly destroyed rainforest), with some antibiotics thrown in. And apparently we're planning on continuing to take it upon ourselves to use cheap, generally non-renewable energy to crappily replace the things nature can do by itself.

Sure, sometime in the not too distant future, we'll be able to grow meat in a lab. But that's not the happy end of the story. Those nutrients will have to come from somewhere, and so will the energy for the entire process. It's not going to come from sunlight, and the corn and soy are not going to grow and process themselves into the right (or wrong, as it just might turn out) combinations of nutrients.

It seems to me that the net environmental footprint of vat-grown meat will be higher than feedlot meat, to say nothing of pasture-raised meat, or for that matter a vegetarian diet. Just because it's OMG SCIENCE doesn't mean it's a good idea.
posted by parudox at 9:05 PM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


So far the scientists have not tasted it

Despair?

/Better Off Ted
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:10 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that the net environmental footprint of vat-grown meat will be higher than feedlot meat.

Why? Do you realize how much land, food, water cows use? The amount of energy it takes just to get an ounce of beef is so sickening that I can't help but imagine there's no way growing it without the living cow could possibly be worse. Let alone the lack of global warming farts.
posted by floam at 9:14 PM on November 30, 2009


So far the scientists have not tasted it, but they believe the breakthrough could lead to sausages

Sausages are evil.
posted by effbot at 9:15 PM on November 30, 2009


...omega-3 can't be synthesized.

It's true, magical Omega-3 gnomes painstakingly insert omega-3s into fish while they sleep. You don't want to know how it gets in nuts.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:20 PM on November 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


The nutritional profile will be different. For example omega-3 can't be synthesized.

Are you sure about that? Sounds fishy. sorry

Sure, omega-3 fatty acids can't be synthesized by normal human physiological processes, but it's not as if all the world's omega-3 falls from outer space. Surely there's some animal that synthesizes these chemicals-- meaning there's some obtainable enzyme for the creation of omega-3 fatty acids.

Still, of course, an isolated organ won't be exactly the same as an organ that is part of a complete animal, at least until we have a perfect understanding of biochemistry (by which time we will all be beautiful, ageless creatures, who don't need to exercise). Whether those differences would translate into meaningful differences in nutrition, taste, or health is another matter.
posted by nathan v at 9:21 PM on November 30, 2009


parudox: "It seems to me that the net environmental footprint of vat-grown meat will be higher than feedlot meat, to say nothing of pasture-raised meat"

The colories consumed by a cow over it's lifetime per calorie of meat is so high that vat grown should be able to easily surpass it in efficiency, factoring in all the energy needs of running the facility. For one thing you are not expending energy to build bone and nervous tissue and keep the whole thing alive for years. Even if the maintinance costs were the same, the turnover time would still be a huge increase in efficiency (meat in maybe a month or two vs. meat in two to eight years).
posted by idiopath at 9:26 PM on November 30, 2009


It seems to me that the net environmental footprint of vat-grown meat will be higher than feedlot meat.

Why? Do you realize how much land, food, water cows use?


I'll be interested to see the numbers on this. I mean, parudox does have a point. Considering the amount of energy and treasure it takes to build labs, lab equipment, feed and house lab techs, scientists, let alone material costs, the resources to grow lab food are not insignificant, and I can see where many folks would take 'grown in lab' to mean 'very eco-friendly' in the same way that folks tend to assume mass solar panel construction is inherently eco-friendly (without considering the secondary costs for construction of the panels, etc). Floam, you have a great point, but parudox was comparing lab meat v. old school meat, like meat without hormones and machines and the like. What needs to be pointed out is that most animals raised for meat these days are, for all intents and purposes, grown in a lab, considering the equipment, genetics, etc...so my *guess* is that the energy costs are probably relatively equivalent, or at least more equivalent than the surface - and certainly the marketing - would lead one to believe.

The colories consumed by a cow over it's lifetime per calorie of meat is so high that vat grown should be able to easily surpass it in efficiency, factoring in all the energy needs of running the facility.

Also a great point, but again I'd be interested to see the numbers. I wonder what the breakdown is in terms of how many humans need to be grown in order to produce lab meat. It sounds silly, but a lot of farmers can raise many, many cows, whereas I would bet it takes a lot of scientists - going down the line a bit but not to absurdity - to raise a much smaller amount of lab meat.

I also wonder if the new 'humanely raised' will now be restricted to meats from non-conscious origins.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:34 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow several different cheap shots at religion that are totally unrelated to the thread topic.


I wish I was shocked.

You guys are so nice and enlightened. Gosh, golly why can't everyone be so dang pleasant as you all?
posted by oddman at 9:38 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines.


Of course the lonely will have to eat themselves.
posted by Bonzai at 9:41 PM on November 30, 2009


Wow several different cheap shots at religion that are totally unrelated to the thread topic.

I wish I was shocked.

You guys are so nice and enlightened. Gosh, golly why can't everyone be so dang pleasant as you all?
posted by oddman at 9:38 PM on November 30


Can . . . can you please quote something so I know what the hell you're talking about? Religion? What? Where?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:43 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is all well and good, but if there are going to be huge vats of muscle tissue, how do we know a terrorist will not implant the muscle tissue into his arms so that he can punch through our national defenses? If he uses MMA, he will be doubly unpredictable and dangerous.

Or maybe he would wire up his vat-o-beefiness to a galvanic switchboard, sending out a meatbot to torment the masses. It's a well known fact that the government's plans for gigantic robots do not apply to synthesized biological robots. Atomic weapons and other EMP sources will not stop it, as it's using 18th century technology in place of more modern semiconductors.

It's times like this I wish I had the commitment to write a short story without getting bored and deciding to go to the library to take out books I probably won't read.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:50 PM on November 30, 2009


I'm by no means sure about my comparison of feedlot and vat-grown. But while there are inefficiencies in all the non-meat elements of a cow, my suspicion is that the transformation of soy to "nutrient broth" in the lab will in practice have an even higher inefficiency. Just because when you have cheap energy you use that instead of coming up with the kind of clever systems biology/evolution do.

If the price of oil goes up by a factor of ten tomorrow, all cows will be eating grass, we will be eating fewer cows, and this vat-grown meat nonsense will look ludicrous on a balance sheet. Mostly this is about the footprint of grass versus that of input- and processing-intensive corn and soy.
posted by parudox at 9:51 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're made out of meat.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:51 PM on November 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


If someone named Haviland Tuf is involved in this in any way, I'm leaving. The planet, the solar system, the universe, whatever.
posted by Scattercat at 10:05 PM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


>
I would think that most of the manhours (especially the expensive PhDs) would take place before the meat was produced, for research and development. After that, I would think they could design and build an automated incubator to grow the meat from a good strain and maintain a good environment for the culture. Of course, there will still probably be human labor for harvesting, packing, sorting and shipping the meat, but that is pretty much the existing meat industry, minus the rancher.

This creates an interesting hump for profitability, as this means that most of the expense will come before the product comes out, and worse, the initial product will be worse than whatever is already on the market. The fact that it says this is good for "sausages and other processed meat" means that this is likely grisly, pale muscle tissue that will need to be ground up and mixed with other ingredients (likely MSG and hydrogenated vegetable oil to make up for missing flavor and texture) to be palatable. It'll be too expensive for the regular processed meat industry, and chances are vegetarian companies will have a stigma against it at first, especially for potential liabilities (consumers may not take kindly to a product that claims to be vegetarian that does contain animal tissue). Investors who consider this will probably be wary.

However, in the long run, advances in computers, the technology itself and robotics as well as rising costs of resources will lead to vat meat eventually falling below the price of grass fed beef (the current human option), and then factory farmed beef.

It has a leg up on those existing industries, too, as it benefits more from the inevitable advances in robotics and computers. This is a new technology, so it can adapt to instruments better than cows. An automated feedlot/ranch would need to call for a system that understands different shapes of cow, animal behavior, the ability to judge if a cow is healthy enough for meat, the ability to diagnose and treat veterinary issues, etc. If a sterile lab is kept and the culture grows to fill the shape of the vat, it'll be easy to mechanize and automate more of the process.

It's definitely an inevitable that we will be eating cultured meat. Concern is rising about the ethics (both for the cows and the environment), and the cheap oil that enables the cattle industry can't stay around forever.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:06 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


So does this mean I'll have a bacon machine before I die?

If you can get that one for me, Science, I'll forgive the lack of jet pack and hover car.
posted by Talanvor at 10:08 PM on November 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wait, I thought Slim Jims had been made like this for years now.
posted by not_on_display at 10:10 PM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wait, I thought Slim Jims had been made like this for years now.

No, those are obtained from an inextinguishable tire fire that has modified firefighting planes that dump the spice mixture instead of fire suppressant on it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:12 PM on November 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


Just uncoil the wrapper, poke the seam, pop the tube, and presto!


Rawr.
posted by darkstar at 10:16 PM on November 30, 2009


"Jesus," Molly said, her own plate empty, "gimme that. You know what this costs?" She took his plate. "They gotta raise a whole animal for years and then they kill it. This isn't vat stuff."
posted by chimaera at 10:24 PM on November 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


This is all well and good, but if there are going to be huge vats of muscle tissue, how do we know a terrorist will not implant the muscle tissue into his arms so that he can punch through our national defenses?

On a serious note, if meat is ever going to be grown in labs, the production will likely be even more centralized than the current meat processing industry, with more severe food safety consequences of contamination. These labs will make a mighty attractive target for terrorism.
posted by parudox at 10:28 PM on November 30, 2009


The mechanism is composed of a robotic priest feeding a robotic catholic from a regular bread machine.
posted by qvantamon at 10:32 PM on November 30, 2009


Quorn is unsettling enough. Can't we stop while we're ahead?

A few posts on the right Web sites suggesting that this is actually made of babies and Glenn Beck'll be organizing anti-vat-meat protests before you know it.
posted by killdevil at 10:36 PM on November 30, 2009


These labs will make a mighty attractive target for terrorism.

TERRORISM
posted by maxwelton at 10:42 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who will be the first person to market it under its proper name, I wonder? Who would have the balls to proudly exclaim:

Try our new Soylent Green! It's vat PEOPLE!
posted by Ghidorah at 11:13 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Times article:
"The cells were then incubated in a solution containing nutrients to encourage them to multiply indefinitely. This nutritious “broth” is derived from the blood products of animal foetuses, although the intention is to come up with a synthetic solution."

I can't find any publications pertaining to this research - seems to be one of these annoying press releases that contains outrageous, easily-misinterpreted, headline-grabbing claims and no actual information. But I am willing to bet that you have to put many times as much foetal serum into these dishes as you get pig muscle out. There is nothing to suggest that there is anything here that could reduce the enviromental impact of meat production.
posted by nowonmai at 11:27 PM on November 30, 2009


Nowonmai beat me to the fetal bovine serum quote.

At only $0.50/ml, fetal bovine serum is a steal. Or, you could use serum-free media to grow the cells if you engineer them so that they don't need normal growth factors, which would basically turn them into tumor cells. That's quite a bit cheaper at ~ $0.05/ml. Unfortunately one of the major ingredients of serum-free medium is BSA (bovine serum albumin), so you don't escape the problem of killing cows to grow dubious quantities of sausage gristle.

Anyone who seriously thinks that this is a pathway towards vat-grown meat has no inkling of how expensive and delicate the process of cell culture is. Mammalian cells have to be kept in special temperature and atmosphere controlled incubators while continually covered in buffering media containing all the growth factors the cells need just to not commit suicide. Mammalian cells have a large number of genes devoted to suicide, triggered by such things as "not being next to the proper neighbor cell type". Cell culture attempts to trick cells to grow by showering them with hormones which trick the cells into thinking they are in a fetal environment and should replicate, thus the fetal bovine sera. This delightful nutrient broth and all containers must be kept completely aseptic, and as backup usually has several antibiotics added to it in order to prevent bacterial growth from overtaking the mammalian cells in case of contamination. This usually means that cell culture is done in fairly expensive single-use plastic flasks with small-pore air filters.

Given the above, the cost of making this "meat" is likely $10,000/kg (anybody with experience in mammalian cell culture bioreactors please correct my wild-ass guesstimate). The more likely pathway towards environmentally sustainable GM "meat" is algae or soy engineered to produce animal proteins - the inputs would be sunlight, water, and fertilizer. GM soy-produced omega-3 is due to hit the market soon (not a great achievement, since algal omega-3 is already being produced).

Also, if growing muscle was so easy, don't you think that we'd be growing human muscle and using it for medical muscle transplants first? Perhaps 20 years after we are proficient at growing artificial muscles to replace injured human ones, the cost of growing muscle will have dropped to less than chicken feed.
posted by benzenedream at 12:11 AM on December 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


For those of us paying attention to these things: this tread existed for 2.5 hours without a Soylent Green joke.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:42 AM on December 1, 2009


Shocking, wasn't it? I couldn't believe the ball was dropped so badly. I was happy, though, to oblige.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:09 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting, but sadly unsustainable for the reasons mentioned above. It would be much, much healthier for the environment to go back to grass-fed farming.

I wish I had that Joel Salatin quote from Food, Inc. about our tendency to create perfectly engineered solutions to the wrong problems.
posted by archagon at 1:10 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I approve of this, although I wouldn't eat it myself simply because I do not eat meat as it is. However, if this is a way for those who want to continue to eat meat to do so without harming living creatures (aside from low-paid meat-massaging workers) then I think it's pretty awesome. I hope they're able to truly synthesize the taste and texture of 'real' meat so as to appease the meat-eating masses.
posted by Malice at 1:33 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's Wendy Meat!
I want me some Caribou Eyes and Long-Pig.

Go down to the corner and pick me up a Monkey Burger!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

It's a first step. There are a ton of things that are wrong about the reporting of this, but hey, we get there in steps, not leaps.

I'll wait until version 4 to start getting excited. Probably around the time McDonald's signs a contract.
posted by daq at 2:55 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow! Just think of the huge rolls of bacon that will be available at CostCo!


Blech.
posted by chillmost at 3:30 AM on December 1, 2009


Vat-grown beef is the best way to turn everyone vegetarian.
posted by DU at 4:49 AM on December 1, 2009


It's too bad there isn't some kind of edible biological material that could be grown directly from base nutrients and sunshine....that could really change the world.

Usher me unto the bacon shrub, kind sir!
posted by Ritchie at 4:56 AM on December 1, 2009


The nutritional profile will be different. For example omega-3 can't be synthesized.

1) You're making baby Friedrich Wöhler cry!
2) It wouldn't be synthesized, it would be grown. We don't synthesize anything at work. We have cell lines for that.

Benzene, we grow stuff with nothing that comes from a cow. The agencies have gotten real fussy about injecting people with anything that involved an animal product anywhere in it's preparation.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:25 AM on December 1, 2009


Whenever I hear about in vitro meat I think of:

Tuf Voyaging by George R R Martin
posted by Splunge at 5:29 AM on December 1, 2009


I find it interesting that they need to exercise the muscle, though it completely makes sense.

Ah, clearly you have not seen The Island.

This delightful nutrient broth and all containers must be kept completely aseptic, and as backup usually has several antibiotics added to it in order to prevent bacterial growth from overtaking the mammalian cells in case of contamination.

This is my first thought. If we're already adding antibiotics to animals partly because of the unnatural conditions we're deeming cost effective to raise them in, what kind of chemical stews are these growing lumps of meat going to be?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:32 AM on December 1, 2009


The Vegetarian's Dilemma
posted by 256 at 5:56 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is going to do wonders for the sex toy industry.
I'll be first in line for the new RealMeat line if products.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:21 AM on December 1, 2009


Also previously.
posted by peacay at 6:28 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


IT'S MADE OF SHEEPLE!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:07 AM on December 1, 2009


Interesting, but sadly unsustainable for the reasons mentioned above. It would be much, much healthier for the environment to go back to grass-fed farming.

Grass-fed farming means healthier animals, but good for the environment on a large scale, it's not. On a small scale you can do it, but then meat becomes a real luxury item.

I love meat, and in general, have no ethical problem with eating other animals. But raising lots of it has really torn large areas of the planet up, even before factory farming. I've had to become a reluctant mostly-vegetarian for that reason. And vat-meat-technology might be around for my grandkids, but probably not for me.

On the other hand, legumes are delicious.
posted by emjaybee at 7:22 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hydroponic vegetables need to be grown with much less pesticide load (with a few exceptions) because inputs are more controlled and cleaner. I can see this being true for vatmeat too. In fact, I expect it will be a selling point of the product: lower anti-biotic loads.

"Jesus," Molly said, her own plate empty, "gimme that. You know what this costs?" She took his plate. "They gotta raise a whole animal for years and then they kill it. This isn't vat stuff."

This is implies some of the others: higher efficiency and lower ecological impact. To grow a steak now, you need to raise a whole cow. It takes at least a year or 18 months, thousands of litres of water and hectares of hay and corn to raise one animal. It's less than 10% efficient in energy terms, much worse in terms of water. That's the target vatmeat needs to beat. I wouldn't be surprised if it's better even in this first attempt. They're only growing muscle, after all, not the whole animal.
posted by bonehead at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2009


Oh no. This thread is making nauseous. Why?

A little mom 'n' pop processing plant near my apartment has been emitting this warm, sweet, semi-putrid, vaguely meaty smell. I just found out it is actually... A HOT DOG FACTORY.

That means boiled butt smell.

And now all I can think about is what vat-meat could smell like, en masse. Vom.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:31 AM on December 1, 2009


The article mentions Pohl & Kornbluth's "The Space Merchants" (1958) as an early source of the science fiction idea of vat-grown meat.

But we all know "Mrs. 'Awkins" from Heinlein's Methuselah's Children (1941) predates that by nearly twenty years, amirite?
posted by lothar at 7:49 AM on December 1, 2009


The cost of making this "meat" is likely $10,000/kg.

Today, sure. But consider: when aluminum was first being produced it was consider far more valuable than "common" metals like gold and silver. When the human genome project started, it was seen as a laughably impossibly huge task which might never be possible to finish. the economics of both of those changed radically in less than ten years, by three or four orders of cost. $10/kg would be a reasonable target for vatmeat.
posted by bonehead at 7:53 AM on December 1, 2009


So far the scientists have not tasted it

Suuuure they haven't.

Reminds me of that Greg Egan book, Distress, maybe? Where the trendy dish is made from dis-corporate human clone meat with a human name. Certainly not the first to think of harvesting non-sentient clone meat, but predates the H+ reference by a good ten years.

Great book.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:00 AM on December 1, 2009


This meat, it vibrates?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:04 AM on December 1, 2009


This is a nomenclatural nightmare. We already have fake meat. If we have real fake meat, will we have to rename fake meat to... what? Fake fake meat? The food formerly known as fake meat? Or is the new fake meat not fake at all, thus forcing us to rename real meat to once-ambulatory meat?

It's also creepy.
posted by chairface at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Creepmeat.


*runs to trademark the name*
posted by darkstar at 8:31 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please taste good. Please taste good. Please taste good.

As a vegetarian who stopped eating meat to avoid killing but misses meat like the dickens, I so want vat meat to taste delicious.

GET IN MY BELLY, VAT MEAT!
posted by Never teh Bride at 9:00 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hot dog factory = boiled butt smell, ok, I have no doubt. Yet people eat tons and tons of hot dogs.

If that's the standard for "tasty" meat, this will have no problem whatsoever.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:02 AM on December 1, 2009


I prefer free-range scientists. They have much more flavor.
posted by homunculus at 9:05 AM on December 1, 2009


Woo!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 9:25 AM on December 1, 2009


This is news? The internets tell me that KFC has been doing this for years.
posted by xedrik at 9:37 AM on December 1, 2009


KFC has been doing this for years.

I give you... Pepsico's Animal 57! (pic)
posted by bonehead at 9:43 AM on December 1, 2009


Oh man, I cannot wait to eat historical figures. The permutations are endless when I can make a sandwich out of Rasputin and Benjamin Franklin. Just need to salvage a few cells. Step 1, buy shovel.
posted by intelligentless at 9:57 AM on December 1, 2009


Every bit of news about this makes me happy.
posted by mouthnoize at 11:03 AM on December 1, 2009


Wow several different cheap shots at religion that are totally unrelated to the thread topic.

Please. If we talk about not-quite-meat grown in vats then inevitably it's going to turn to synthesized human meat which will then lead to (spoiler!) Soylent Green and transubstantiation.

If a little ribbing on the Internet is all you get in terms of consequences from ritualistically eating what you believe is human flesh, then I think you're doing pretty well.
posted by ODiV at 11:13 AM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


It weirds me out that people only care how it tastes. To me there a thousand unanswered questions. Chiefly, what are the unintended consequences?

I'm hardly a knee-jerk anti-science type person by any stretch but I remember when Food & Big Agri Scientists were touting the awesomeness of trans-fats and the "Green Revolution" in agriculture. And both those things have seriously fucked up people and the planet leading to levels of human misery we have never seen on the planet before.

So. Color me skeptical.
posted by tkchrist at 12:40 PM on December 1, 2009


Just today I was thinking about not eating mammals anymore. This might tip the scale.
posted by chrillsicka at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2009


Not a single reference an impending zombie apocalypse so far...ready by 2012 as well? I'm stocking up on MRE's!
posted by samsara at 1:31 PM on December 1, 2009


"Grass-fed farming means healthier animals, but good for the environment on a large scale, it's not."

If The Omnivore's Dilemma is to be believed, Joel Salatin's innovative crop rotation method, though limited in yield, actually improves the environment. I think he has a valid point: if more brainpower was devoted to creating farming systems that worked in tandem with the environment rather than against it, we might be able to feed everyone healthy food, at reasonable cost, indefinitely.

"On a small scale you can do it, but then meat becomes a real luxury item."

Really? I've read that it can still work, but that we'd need a lot more farmers and farmland that we currently have. In any case, I don't mind the idea of meat becoming more of a luxury item in exchange for better health and a better environment.
posted by archagon at 1:56 PM on December 1, 2009


In any case, I don't mind the idea of meat becoming more of a luxury item in exchange for better health and a better environment.

Honestly, I think preventing poor people from getting a food we've evolved for a very long time to require is a worse sin than factory farming. Steak should be a luxury, meat should not.
posted by floam at 3:05 PM on December 1, 2009


True, but if we keep producing cheap, unsustainable meat, whether through factory farming or in vats, it will really suck for everyone when the system finally becomes unfeasible. We might not even be able to go back to sustainable farming at that point.

I think producing meat in vats only exacerbates the problem in the long run.
posted by archagon at 3:23 PM on December 1, 2009


True, but if we keep producing cheap, unsustainable meat, whether through factory farming or in vats, it will really suck for everyone when the system finally becomes unfeasible. We might not even be able to go back to sustainable farming at that point.

Maybe I'm missing something, but how is grass-fed beef more sustainable than factory farming? It needs more land, and energy, doesn't it? It costs more. In some sort of economic apocalypse, it seems to me that grass-feed cows, organic tomatoes, and caviar are going to be even more out of reach. We're going to need modern agriculture more than ever.
posted by floam at 4:37 PM on December 1, 2009


So now we need a Shake and Frylock.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:21 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Maybe I'm missing something, but how is grass-fed beef more sustainable than factory farming?"

To paraphrase Michael Pollan, factory farming operates in a sequential manner, accepting inputs and producing outputs. Many of the inputs have to be synthesized and brought in from elsewhere, and many of the outputs (manure lagoons?) are contained to be dealt with later. Significant portions of this system (for instance, transportation and fertilizer) also require oil, a non-renewable resource.

On the other hand, sustainable farming has very few inputs outside of its ecosystem (Polyface farms says it only adds chicken feed -- the plants and animals do the rest of the work) and recycles most of its waste. The energy that it uses comes mostly from renewable sources, and the land gets improved in the process.

Why deal with the inputs and outputs by hand when all the work can be done by the ecosystem?

(I probably shouldn't have used the term "grass-fed". You can feed a cow grass all its life without the operation necessarily being sustainable.)
posted by archagon at 5:53 PM on December 1, 2009


Does this remind anyone else of Chicky Knobs? We all know how well that turned out don't we...
posted by Cody's Keeper at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2009


Why deal with the inputs and outputs by hand when all the work can be done by the ecosystem?

Because I thought this type of use of the ecosystem was damaging. I'll need to do more research, clearly, as I am totally naive on this subject, but I was under the impression it means cutting down more trees and laying waste to a lot of land compared to the amount of land destroyed by a factory, per ounce of beef produced.

And I meant sustainable more in the economic sense, since we were talking about oil prices and whatnot (although my intuition was that modern agriculture is going to be better in both senses in the end) Somebody above was making the argument that if oil prices go up, that market forces are going to lead to stuff like vat-beef and factory farm beef being ludicrous on a balance sheet.
posted by floam at 6:09 PM on December 1, 2009


I guess it depends on what chemicals vat-beef requires and how they're produced.
posted by archagon at 7:07 PM on December 1, 2009


Oh man, I cannot wait to eat historical figures.

Ghouls.

Are you the Honourable Archibald Fitzhugh or the Bishop of Bath and Wells?
posted by bad grammar at 9:07 PM on December 1, 2009


Tastes like chicken little.
posted by yohko at 9:27 PM on December 1, 2009


Can . . . can you please quote something so I know what the hell you're talking about? Religion? What? Where? --Optimus Chyme

Optimus-- it was the couple of throwaway jokes about the no need for transubstantiation anymo'. You know, if we could get a hold of of Jeezus DNA, instant host. (NOW WITH PAPRIKA!)
posted by exlotuseater at 1:58 AM on December 3, 2009


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