$1,200 for a Meatball? Make Mine PB&J.

What happens when a stem cell biologist unites with a cardiologist to pursue a new idea? Check out Memphis Meats—growing beef, duck and chicken in a laboratory. You might say Memphis Meats is growing cells instead of cows.

Vegetarians may one day have an alternative to abstaining from meat. Memphis Meats is producing cultured meat. I wonder if you drink your wine or beer from a beaker when pairing it with a Memphis Meat product.

While Memphis Meats’ website is not what you would call content rich, they have gotten a fair amount of mainstream media publicity. I caught my first glimpse through Modern Farmer. Check out their report: http://modernfarmer.com/2017/03/eat-chicken-grown-lab/

Don’t worry Texas, the meat lab is in San Francisco, not Austin. Your Angus and Belted Galloway herds are in no danger for the moment. Although, last year Memphis Meats introduced a meatball from their lab. While they are working on production costs, one estimate is a meatball would currently cost $1,200. According to The Economist, Mosa Meat, a Dutch company, is the leader of the meat herd. See http://www.economist.com/news/business/21716076-plant-based-meat-products-have-made-it-menus-and-supermarket-shelves-market .

I guess the term “tube steak” will take on an entirely new meaning. Sadly, farm to fork rolls off the tongue so much easier than lab to plate. Then again, maybe laboratories can be combined with food trucks to ensure a fresher slab of lab meat. We undoubtedly will develop a whole new vocabulary. No longer will cage free, grass fed, or free range be of interest. We may even have to eliminate the phrase, “lab rat.” And, how will the organic certification process work?

One thing I know for sure, my “old school” chicken soup recipe will still require a whole chicken.

Memphis Meats is not alone in its pursuit of changing our food. Several companies are on similar tracks. Financial Times (https://www.ft.com/content/967099ce-a693-11e6-8898-79a99e2a4de6) briefly summarizes companies such as SoyLent which has raised capital of twenty million dollars, and Impossible Foods which has a burger that is made entirely from plants. Impossible Foods’ burger looks just like the meat product, and though founded in California, has locations in California, New York and even in the Lone Star State. See www.impossiblefoods.com  and www.soylent.com

There’s no arguing that technology has had a huge impact in agriculture over the last few decades. And, it looks like we’re just scratching the surface. Just a little food for thought as you bite into your next hamburger or chicken sandwich.

For now, make mine a PB&J.

LK

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