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Lab-Grown Meat Is In Your Future, and It May Be Healthier Than the Real Stuff (smh.com.au) 274

An anonymous reader shares an article on The Sydney Morning Herald:Scientists and businesses working full steam to produce lab-created meat claim it will be healthier than conventional meat and more environmentally friendly. But how much can they improve on old-school pork or beef? In August 2013, a team of Dutch scientists showed off their lab-grown burger (cost: $435,000) and even provided a taste test. Two months ago, the American company Memphis Meats fried the first-ever lab meatball (cost: $23,700 per pound). Those who have tasted these items say they barely differ from the real deal. The Dutch and the Americans claim that within a few years lab-produced meats will start appearing in supermarkets and restaurants. And these are not the only teams working on cultured meat (as they prefer to call it). Another company, Modern Meadow, promises that lab-grown "steak chips" -- something between a potato chip and beef jerky -- will hit the stores in the near future, too.
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Lab-Grown Meat Is In Your Future, and It May Be Healthier Than the Real Stuff

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:09AM (#52034849) Homepage
    If they can get this to work it will also be better for the environment in terms of energy use, CO2 and methane production. Right now, my wife and I are both not complete vegetarians but very rarely eat any form of meat. This is for ethical, environmental and financial reasons. In her case, she'd be probably pretty happy never eating meat, whereas I've got a strong craving for it generally that is a little annoying. I'm really looking forward to vat meat.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:26AM (#52034999)

      Right now, my wife and I are both not complete vegetarians but very rarely eat any form of meat. This is for...financial reasons.

      Really? With a membership to a warehouse store like Sam's Club, I am currently getting 90/10 ground beef for under $3 per pound (80/20 is even cheaper) and can get frozen chicken breasts for around $2 per pound. At the local grocery store we can get fresh chicken breasts for a little over $2 per pound. Me and my wife go through a bag of chicken every 2 weeks and a 5 pound case of ground beef in 3-4 weeks. Unless you live in a place where meat is very scarce, you only eat filet or ribeye every night, or insist on grass fed free range low stress hand massaged beef the financial impact of meat vs no meat is very minimal.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Like anything else, you want to stay away from the overhyped nonsense. Since vegetarianism is a current fad, I would expect it to be unnecessarily expensive when compared to sensible omnivorism. Things like Kale aren't cheap. The produce sections of places like Whole Foods can drain your whole wallet.

        Even if you are eating the low stress free range stuff, it's still likely cheaper than many of the other things that a prissy vegan would end up needing to buy.

        A "plant based diet" is far more bothersome than t

        • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @11:26AM (#52035493)

          Vegetarianism a current fad?

          I'm not sure how to reconcile your claim with it being the dominant diet in the Indian subcontinent for millennia....

        • Huh? Kale not cheap? My apologies. I didn't get the memo. I'll stop looking at the prices in my supermarket and stop buying kale for my bacon salads immediately! Am I still allowed to use green leaf lettuce or is that "too expensive" now too? What about spinach? Am I only allowed to consume iceberg lettuce now? Must I stop putting eggs and cheese in with my bacon salad? If I eat salads and veggie burgers, am I no longer allowed to put bacon in them? What about bacon ranch dressing? Do I need to s

      • the financial impact of meat vs no meat is very minimal.
        In gods own land, perhaps.

      • If you live near ethnic Asian markets (common in any metro center), bulk tofu can be had at a price of about 6lbs for 4 dollars (96oz). So, let's look at the math... Assume you eat 4oz of protein at every meal (365 days x 3 meals a day x 4oz = 4380 oz in a year). If you were to eat nothing but tofu during the course of that year, you would need 46 6-lb packs of tofu to cover your protein intake, at a cost of $182 or $.17 per serving. If you were to buy the chicken breasts you were suggesting, $2 per pound,
      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @12:35PM (#52036297)

        Unless you live in a place where meat is very scarce, you only eat filet or ribeye every night, or insist on grass fed free range low stress hand massaged beef the financial impact of meat vs no meat is very minimal.

        I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm not sure you're familiar with what it takes to live on an extremely low budget. If you're looking for cheap protein sources, the amount of protein per dollar you get with dried beans or lentils is generally anywhere from 50% more to double the amount of protein per dollar you'd get from the cheapest chicken. For other meats, that disparity is generally quite a bit more.

        And of course that's only protein. If you take into account calories per dollar, meat is incredibly expensive compared to legumes, not to mention bulk grains, flour, etc.

        There's a very good reason the poor in the past generally lived on bread and other starches (often supplemented with legumes for protein) as their staples for calories -- they're incredibly cheap... much cheaper even that the cheapest factory farm meat you can buy in the U.S. today.

        And if you're at all concerned about source of meat, welfare, sustainability, quality, etc., then the premium for "better" meat goes WAY up compared to the added cost for "better" legumes/grains.

        (If you want to start a response by noting the high cost of vegetables, note that you should be eating vegetables for a balanced diet regardless of whether you're eating meat or not. The replacement for meat in a diet is other protein, not more vegetables. And vegetable protein sources are simply a LOT cheaper than animal protein sources overall.)

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          Unless you live in a place where meat is very scarce, you only eat filet or ribeye every night, or insist on grass fed free range low stress hand massaged beef the financial impact of meat vs no meat is very minimal.

          I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm not sure you're familiar with what it takes to live on an extremely low budget. If you're looking for cheap protein sources, the amount of protein per dollar you get with dried beans or lentils is generally anywhere from 50% more to double the amount of protein per dollar you'd get from the cheapest chicken. For other meats, that disparity is generally quite a bit more.

          And of course that's only protein. If you take into account calories per dollar, meat is incredibly expensive compared to legumes, not to mention bulk grains, flour, etc.

          There's a very good reason the poor in the past generally lived on bread and other starches (often supplemented with legumes for protein) as their staples for calories -- they're incredibly cheap... much cheaper even that the cheapest factory farm meat you can buy in the U.S. today.

          And if you're at all concerned about source of meat, welfare, sustainability, quality, etc., then the premium for "better" meat goes WAY up compared to the added cost for "better" legumes/grains.

          (If you want to start a response by noting the high cost of vegetables, note that you should be eating vegetables for a balanced diet regardless of whether you're eating meat or not. The replacement for meat in a diet is other protein, not more vegetables. And vegetable protein sources are simply a LOT cheaper than animal protein sources overall.)

          Actually, I've argued on previous threads that it is extremely easy to eat a balanced meal that includes meat very cheaply at $2 per person ($1 packages of frozen vegetables, $1 bone-in chicken breast each-granted, prices have gone up so it now might be $2 per chicken). And in fact I do know about living on a low budget. Several years ago me and my wife (and a 60lb dog) were living on my $12.80 an hour wage plus a few hours a week minimum wage working in an after school program for her after her former em

      • "...our coffee-rubbed Kobe beef is read the book Are You My Mother by a Guatemalan child." -- Patton Oswalt
      • Why are you only looking at the short-term and completely ignoring the long term benefits???

        i.e. Someone eating fast-food crap, daily, is only compounding their health problems down the road.

        Investing into your health, is exactly that, an investment into yourself.

        --
        Pay-to-Win (P2), noun, (video) games where any multiplayer non-cosmetic content is available for purchase using Real-Life currency. Examples include Hearthstone, Clash of Clans, Dungeon Keeper, Maple Story , World of Tanks, Warframe, anything dev

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

          Why are you only looking at the short-term and completely ignoring the long term benefits???

          i.e. Someone eating fast-food crap, daily, is only compounding their health problems down the road.

          Investing into your health, is exactly that, an investment into yourself.

          Frozen vegetables: $1 a pack. Meat: anywhere from $2-3 a pound. $5 gets you more calories than you need for a day. How is that not healthy?

    • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:40AM (#52035119) Homepage

      I'm not a vegetarian, and I don't necessarily have any ethical qualms with killing and eating animals, but if I could eat meat without killing an animal most of the time and save energy in the process, I'm good with that.

      • I'm with you here, I'd rather not have feedlots; those places are disgusting. My guess is that they will first need to make the meat, then make it taste as good as it is now.

        By the way, your sig is out of date.

      • I'm not a vegetarian, and I don't necessarily have any ethical qualms with killing and eating animals, but if I could eat meat without killing an animal most of the time and save energy in the process, I'm good with that.

        +1

        I actually find it very satisfying (perhaps in some primitive part of my brain) to eat meat that I killed myself, so I obviously don't have any ethical issues. But if cultured meat is as good as the natural stuff and has a smaller environmental footprint, I'm all for it. I may still raise a pig or a chicken for myself, and I'll still hunt, but such self-provided meat is a miniscule portion of the meat I eat, and I'd consider it great to replace the rest with something that doesn't require huge factory f

      • As a Muslim, I would prefer at least once a year to have an opportunity to slaughter a cow or an oven myself and cook it.

        • to slaughter a cow or an oven

          I'm not completely sure about muslim cuisine, but I'm pretty sure ovens don't need slaughtering.

      • I don't even care about killing animals. My immune system has probably killed untold billions of organisms and no one has asked me to shed a tear for them, so some animal doesn't rate much on my scale either, especially when its livestock. However, I expect that artificial meat would be cheaper and have better quality because you can precisely control the environment in which it is created and likely save yourself the cost of having the rest of the critter that does nothing for you around. Give me better ta
  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:10AM (#52034853)
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the public, especially in areas such as the EU that have come out strongly against GMO foodstuffs. Will they accept completely synthetically produced food? I would imagine farmers would oppose this simply because it threatens their very existence; with some producing "real" food at expensive prices so that having a real steak becomes a luxury item.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by houghi ( 78078 )

      As a European I am against GMO, but not perhaps for the standard reasons people think.

      I would first like the Copyright and Trademark issues dropped (not solved, dropped) before looking at the health issues.
      And concerning the health issues: I do not trust companies with my and even more important humanities health. They have shown again and again that they can not be trusted with things like that. And the comparisons that are made are good for your small farmer, but not when you start looking at a world leve

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:10AM (#52034857) Journal

    Pretty sure in the future we will probably be eating each other. Human will be the cheapest & readiest available meat to be found.

  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:10AM (#52034863)
    The article says it would cut down land use for farm animals by 99%, but you can't make meat without some raw materials. Its hard for me to imagine they don't require some equivalent biological feed into the process, so that matter has to come from somewhere. Fish?
    • Those raw materials don't have to be meat. They can just as easily be vegetable matter, and you can grow plants with air, water, and sunlight.

      • Growing plants also requires nutrients, typically from soil. Land growing of plants is the most economical form, so that would not reduce land required by 99%.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Insert Soylent Green reference.

    • How do you think current herbivores and vegans live and grow? There are a bajillion ways to get proteins and amino acids without grinding up existing meat.

      The meat they're producing in the lab arn't just hot dogs ground up from animal leftovers. They are pieces of actual living tissue that is grown in chemical baths full of the exact nutrients needed for the tissue to grow.

      Personally, I was hoping that they'd call it something more satisfyingly distopian, like "veat" (short for vat-meat). Cultured meat is t

      • How do you think current herbivores and vegans live and grow? There are a bajillion ways to get proteins and amino acids without grinding up existing meat.

        I said 'boilogical input', I did not say 'meat'. All of those bajillion ways have some form of biological feed input. Be it plants, or plankton or whatever. So, you did not help answer the question. You need to get the nutrients from somewhere.

        • Yeast extract would probably be your easiest starting point.
          • Maybe just yeast would be better, eliminating the extraction processing steps. To produce yeast en-mass requires its own processing, molasses and other nutrients. I still see land use required in the end.
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:15AM (#52034911)

    If it tastes the same, I'd probably eat it.

    But at $435,000 per burger, I might have to go for the combo-meal deal.

    • I have been wondering why in the future everything tastes like chicken. This explains it perfectly.

  • It would make sense that manufactured meat could be healthier and tastier than meat slaughtered from animals.
    Quality meat comes from animals which are Happy and Healthy (Who should only have one bad day in their life) (Less toxins from stress), and live a rather passive life without much exercise (more tender meat). This is hard combination to perform. Lab Grown meat can be grown without stressing an animal and exercising it. creating a good quality meat without the bad stuff.

  • Meat flavor is about the fat. Go make a burger witb steak tartar if you don't believe me. Cook it without oil in a teflon pan, and no mayo or cheese.

    This "perfect burger" is completely gross.

    I even had a perfect, fatless, medium rare filet mignon from a snooty but clueless restaurant, no bacon wrap, no blue cheese crumbles, no cream sauce.

    Completely gross.

    These lab guys even said they had to add fat to the lab grown meat the first time this came up last year.

    Lose the meat and come up with some other much

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Your perfect meat seems to basically be deep fried fat, with extra layers of fat, fat bits on top and all drenched in fat.

      Let's just say that tastes differ.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Vitamins cannot be digested without fat. Also, fats themselves are necessary for biological function.

        Your attempt to frame this as a "matter of taste" won't distract from the fact that attempts to "engineer" food usually run into the problems of human hubris and our incomplete knowledge.

        This is also by no means the war of extremes you're trying to paint it as.

        • Vitamins cannot be digested without fat.
          I write this about once a year on /. ... I'm embarrassed that I have to write it again: "This is the stupids thing I ever have heard".

          First of all: vitamins are not digested. They are just there and the body just takes them.
          Secondly: vitamins come in two big groups. Dissolvable in fat (e.g. in milk) and dissolvable in water, e.g. Vitamine C.

          Adding fat to a meal to make vitamins dissolvable in fat makes no sense. If they are there then they are already dissolved in f

    • That completely "gross" is a matter of taste, isn't it?

      I for my part prefer meat without fat. It is ok to have it on while it is in the pan or on the grill. But I cut it away when eating. And regarding rip eyes or other heavy fat meat, I only can eat it if the fat melted away and is not on my plate.

      • The fat that melted away is still largely there, it's why those cuts taste so amazing. All that fat breaks down and basically bastes the meat from the inside out. If you cook your steak to the consistency of shoe leather then you've probably gotten rid of most of the fat but also ruined a perfectly delicious steak. It's the marbling in a cut of meat that is important and desirable, the big lumps are just waste and you lose little to nothing by trimming them off.

  • But sure as hell not in mine.

  • Not sure about the rest of us though
  • by yakumo.unr ( 833476 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:28AM (#52035021) Homepage

    Will it really be healthier? or will it's lab grown nature actually be terrible for us in the long run, I'm thinking along the lines of the bacterial diversification we are finding we need in our gut to be truly healthy, or the way we're finding growing up in overly clean environments compromises our immune systems.
    I think growing meat is a great step forward, but I'm not free of concern.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:29AM (#52035033)

    No thanks. I'll stick with the real thing. I'm not eating anything that was born in a petri dish. How many times have we heard over the years that this or that man made thing (ex. margarine) is supposed to be better for you only to find out the opposite? Yeah....gimme a grass fed steak any day.

  • Perhaps we should stop calling it "lab-grown" meat (or even worse, "in vitro" meat). Perhaps "cultured" meat might be a better term.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Moo, moo. Cows.

  • Feeding livestock chemically synthesized feed would also cut environmental impact. https://slashdot.org/journal/2... [slashdot.org]
  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @10:45AM (#52035169)

    Numbers of real world tests have shown the need for real world herbivores to inhabit valleys to keep the vegetation growing properly on the land. Introducing herds of sheep roaming a rather vegetation depleted land resulted in dramatic vegetation growth.

    Of course, when you fence off, kill off and replace herbivores with chemical agents for plant growth, fungicides, herbicides, etc, then you don't need the herbivores.

    Life is increasingly becoming 'artificial.'

    • That's what I'm wondering too. First, humans were hunter-gatherers. Then we domesticated plants (developed agriculture).

      Then we got upset that wild herbivores were eating all the crops we had put so much effort into cultivating. So we fenced them out. But they kept breaking in so we hunted them down and ate them.

      Then we noticed it was getting harder to catch wild herbivores to eat, so we began domesticating those as well.

      Wild predators were having trouble finding enough to eat (because we'd eat
  • GMOs are bad enough, and with the GMO genie already having escaped from it's bottle, it's too late to even worry about anymore (GMOs will either ruin us or they won't, nothing can stop that now). 'Lab-grown meat', though? At least it can't infect the genome of meat animals. We'll just have to wait and see if this lab-grown stuff ends up ruining people's health.
  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @11:18AM (#52035425)
    Chicken! Hmm...
  • ... but i don't *want* germ-free food. i want food for myself and my children that encourages our immune systems to fight and become stronger, so that we become HEALTHIER. vat-grown food will have no such challenges for our immune system, thus actually make us WEAKER.

    this is fast getting to the point where the clear disadvantages - the FAILURE - of the three laws of robotics - is actually rolling out in real-life. it took several decades for asimov to explore the three laws fully to the point where he fe

    • vat-grown food will have no such challenges for our immune system, thus actually make us WEAKER.
      Go back to school.

      Meat from a freshly slaughtered animal has no germs. Unless they are ill, which is often easy to spot. Animals have an immune system, too.

      Germs basically only live in the guts.

      Don't get your robot talk :D

  • At least, good old Sir Arthur thought he knew the next step, as related in his history "The food of the Gods" :-)

  • If a meat ball is what I think it is, the majourity of the taste comes from spices.
    I ate a burger last night in a restaurant that has a burger day once a week. I usually don't eat burgers, did not eat one since 20 years, and that one ruined my interest for the next 20 years (the meat actually was ok, but the way of how sweet it was spiced was hard to get down into my stomach). How can it be that people think some "sweet" ketchup or a super thin "artificial cheese" on top of it makes meat tasty?
    Meat that is

  • I understand logically how the thought of killing another living thing and eating it can be stomach turning. I am surprised at my own reaction--that eating artificially-grown flesh is creepy to me. OTOH, using real meat to make busts [gizmodo.com] does creep me out whereas I would have no problem with artificial meat sculptures.

  • I don't think that people fully understand that the vast majority of people really don't like killing animals for food. The advertising for these cultured meat products will be easy. Just remind people that slitting Betsy's throat is required to get the burgers out. Show poor Mrs Piggy squashed into a pen with no room to move, etc. Then point out that they can have all the benefits of meat with none of the negatives. Vegetarians have long pushed this same thing, but with little profit motive. Now there will
  • If it can be done without the fetid stink of feed lots (which we that live near them call 'The Smell of Other People's Money'), then I'm all for it.

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