Lab Grown Pork….Really.

Some stories you read just make you sick to your stomach. This one hits me that way. The comments are pretty scary, too.

This Biotech Startup Promises Lab-Grown Pork Within Five Yea

This Biotech Startup Promises Lab-Grown Pork Within Five Years

The future of lab-grown meat is coming. Or at least it feels that way, based on burgeoning interest in the biotech community. One by one, companies are staking out different animal tissues to grow in vitro for human consumption. First there was beef. Then there was chicken. Now there’s pork.

San Fransisco-based startup Memphis Meats made its public debut today, with a Wall Street Journal exclusive that details the team’s ambitious plan to grow beef and pork in laboratory bioreactors—and to be the first company to bring lab-grown meat to market. Memphis Meats says it’ll be selling its animal-free products to high-end customers in three to four years. Oh, and to dissuade any lingering doubts, they’ve also just unveiled the world’s first lab-grown meatball.

Mark Post, whose stem cell burger created an international sensation in 2013, recently announced that his company, Mosa Meat, would be selling lab-grown beef in four to five years.

Lab-grown meat is one of those futuristic technologies that polarizes people, with some saying it’s going to replace animal agriculture and others insisting it’ll never be more than a novelty. Most arguments for or against lab-grown meat hinge on whether you buy the claim that we can produce animal tissue in laboratories at a far lower per capita cost than we can growing it the old fashioned way.

The resource requirements—water, energy, food, space, time—for growing a cow are fairly well-established. But the technology to grow meat in vitro is still in its infancy. And while the first stem cell burger carried a whopping $330,000 price tag, production costs are falling by the year.

Still, significant technical barriers remain. Like Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats is growing animal muscle tissue in bioreactors seeded with stem cells and nutrients. One of the key challenges here is making sure the tissue, which lacks a capillary system to transport blood, remains well-oxygenated. So far, that’s meant growing cells in extremely thin sheets.

Another issue concerns the growth medium itself. At this point, all lab-grown meat relies on fetal bovine serum, a nutrient-rich cocktail extracted from the blood of unborn calves. Not only is fetal bovine serum expensive, its use undermines one of the main arguments for lab grown meat: removing animals from the equation. When I spoke with Mark Post about his stem cell burger over the summer, he told me his lab was working to develop a plant-based substitute. Memphis Meats tells the Wall Street Journal that it, too, plans to have a plant-based alternative in the near future.

Are lab-grown meatballs, chicken wings, and pork chops going to become an ordinary sight at your local grocery store? We’ll have to wait and see. But the race to bring these future foods to our plates is clearly on.

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Top image via Shutterstock

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The Need for Real Food for Real People

Here is a great article talking about one of my major areas of interest….Real Food! I believe real people should be eating real food, grown by other real people without corporate interfaces that create extensive distance between the consumer and the food and the grower of food. Seriously, it is a matter of national security to be able to feed ourselves, and because of the control of direct trade, we have lost that connection with the very thing that sustains us….the Creation, which we are supposed to manage as entrusted to us by the Creator.

Letter from Langdon: Land of Milk and Honey

Industrial agriculture erases the identity of our food, filtering its origins as cleanly as removing bee pollen from honey. Just mix, blend, inject it with a brand – and it’s ready for a shelf near you.

Who made your food?  In these changing times that’s becoming an important question. Maybe it’s something we should all ask more often as industrial food becomes rule over exception.

But what makes food industrial? With so many working families and no one staying home to cook every day, don’t we need fast food?

When we buy those things at the local burger store or chain supermarket, we get mostly what we expect. The public is well versed in what’s in industrial food–things like additives, drugs, antibiotics, hormones, preservatives.

We hear about that stuff all the time. Trading the good life for shelf life is the price we pay for fast-lane life in the land of milk and honey, America.

But industrially produced food is cropping up where we’d least expect it. Food Safety News points out that in America these days, not even honey is all it’s cracked up to be. Importers and wholesales of what is thought of as one of the most wholesome food products on earth are squeezing the life out of honey. Processors say it’s because U.S. consumers want a crystal clear product. But critics point out that ultra filtration of honey  (and dilution with non-honey ingredients) lets importers blend cheaper and more profitable products from around the world.

No one is the wiser because filtration erases genetic and biological fingerprints that could reveal country of origin. If it’s true consumers prefer their honey that way, then for big food, that’s a very convenient truth.

At first glance filtering might seem like a good idea, a way to remove contaminants. The trouble with that thinking is that the “contaminants” in many cases are good things. Plant pollen helps make people immune to allergic reactions, (think hay fever). Pollen and DNA in honey both reveal where the product came from. While removing genetic information of when and where honey was created, filtration does nothing to change the presence of bad things in food like antibiotics and dangerous chemicals.

Industrialization of honey amounts to making an inherently good product, requiring little in the way of processing, less beneficial. It may even make it easier for Big Food to create a product more dangerous to the consuming public.

(Please read the full article!)