Breeding and killing cows to eat is not only upsetting to a large number of people, but isn’t sustainable in the long-run. In theory, growing meat in a lab is sustainable, and could either replace or work alongside regular cow breeding and eating practices. Now, the world’s first lab-grown burger has been cooked, and humans have tasted it.
The burger, which weighed in at five ounces, was created in a Maastricht University lab that used 20,000 protein strands grown from cow stem cells. It cost $ 325,000 — quite a bit more than your standard number two plain with a Coke. Currently, there are few groups pioneering the artificial food circuit. NASA funded a 3D food printer in order to help combat hunger, and 3D printing is also being thought of for use in composing artificial meat. These ideas aren’t entirely new by internet standards, with murmurings and popular articles about the subject appearing around two years ago. So while artificial meat grown in a lab is like science fiction, and a single burger that costs around a third of a million dollars is a fun statistic, what we all really want to know is what artificial meat would taste like.
One of the best comedy shows you haven’t watched, Better off Ted, tackled this issue by showing a beating, writhing ball of meat hooked up to jumper cables. After chasing down the in-house food taster and hilariously but forcefully shoving a piece of meat down his throat, he said it tasted like despair. Australian researcher Hanni Rutzler and food writer Josh Schonwald were the two brave volunteers that lined up to peer into a lab-grown pit of despair. Thankfully, the burger — which was panfried, mixed with salt, breadcrumbs, and egg powder, and dyed with red beet juice — wasn’t the mouth-equivalent of staring into a dark abyss, the depths of which could not be seen. Instead, the burger tasted alright, proving that frying makes anything taste okay. The taste-testers noted that the texture was a little harder than expected, and the burger could do with a bit of fat for flavor.
Though the meat was fried and slapped on a bun, the world is still many years away from this being the norm — even if consumers could come to terms with eating weird meat grown from stem cells in a lab. Currently, the production quantity is too low, and that $ 325,000 cost is obviously too high. It’s predicted that artificially grown meat will become a more feasible prospect in around a decade or two.
With the world’s population predicted to reach a little under 10 billion by 2050, we’ll certainly need a new way to obtain food to feed everyone. The human population will likely go insane if it has to subsist on some kind of all-liquid protein diet, and if we can’t obtain “natural” meat, growing it may be the best way forward. Luckily — for those of you who are grossed out by artificial meat — 2050 is almost half a lifetime away.
Now read: The first 3D-printed human stem cells