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From Test Tube to Dinner Table

Regular readers know that Via Meadia (along with Winston Churchill), is a strong proponent of the future economic and energy benefits of faux meat. We are happy to report that the first “shamburgers” should be coming off the grill in October—albeit for the paltry sum of $348,000 each and with a 10–20 year timetable for mass production. But don’t let these figures ruin your appetite; researchers expect to be able to scale up the process and dramatically reduce costs.

The Financial Times (subscription required) explains how such meat will satisfy consumer demand and be a boon for the environment:

Live cattle and pigs are only 15 per cent efficient at converting vegetable proteins to meat from the grass and cereals they eat. . . .

Patrick Brown, biochemistry professor at Stanford University in California, told the AAAS that global meat consumption was expected to double by 2050, yet livestock farming already accounted for 18 per cent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and threatened biodiversity worldwide.

We’re not the only ones betting that the dinner of the future could come from test tubes. As the FT notes, a private investor is financing the project to the tune of €250,000. And if meat and other food prices spike in the near term, as many expect, the project may garner wider support.

Lab-grown meat seems like a win-win project for greens, too. The benefits to the environment are enormous, if and when it becomes affordable and palatable. That may be years down the road, if ever, but we’re optimistic nonetheless.

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  • SteveMG

    “Waiter, there’s a Bunsen burner in my soup.”

    Okay, I’m no Jon Stewart but it’s a start.

  • LarryD

    I can see the greens latching onto this as conspicuous consumption, weather it actually makes sense environmentally or not.

    Just like organic food, and renewable energy. If it were cheap, then the plebeians could afford it, and then were would they be?

  • Kohl Haas

    Soylent Green – the meal of the future.

  • dearieme

    Oh goodie, a chance to double the world population again and again and again.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I’m going to hold out for Magic Unicorn with Bacon, it’s what’s for dinner.

  • Brett

    Count me in the group of people who would love to be able to buy and eat these, if they were affordable.

    I wonder if this could be a big product in India, where actually slaughtering cows for beef is religiously prohibited. Now you can offer them the beef without the cows!

  • Jbird

    the idea of lab made “meat” turns my stomach

  • Lorenz Gude

    As regular readers of Via Meadia may recall I am utterly opposed to faux meat. I grew up with cows (and Gopis too) and am still a cowboy at heart. I think back to the great buffalo herds of the early 19th century and the frolicking Wildebeests that thunder across the Velt to this day without a care for green eyebrows being raised against their prodigious methane production.

  • Some Sock Puppet

    I really hope this pans out. Replace cheap sugar calories with protein and make it affordable for the poor and we could see a surge in healthy people.

    Use the corn syrup for Xantham gum and all the other uses it has, just don’t consume it.

  • Eric J.

    I think a subset of Greens will disapprove, because for them Vegetarianism is about aesthetics and having a platform to demonstrate their moral superiority.

    And I think the questions of Kashrut will be fascinating. If something is genetically pork, but was never part of a pig, is it kosher?

    In fact, I think there may be grounds to declare lab-grown meat to be parve (neither meat nor milk.) Which means kosher cheeseburgers may be the wave of the future!

  • Jeff77450

    I never saw George Jetson eat lab-grown meat. Where are the jet-packs and flying-cars that we were “promised??” First things first!! 🙂

  • gavin

    yet again i must take issue with this complete misunderstanding of animal the simple form of chicken you take $1 of feed and make it into a roaster which sells for $5,in 8 weeks.who cares how efficient the krebs cycle is,you have affordable protien on the table.

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