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What If You Could Eat Chicken Without Killing a Chicken? (theoutline.com) 331

From a report on The Outline: San Francisco-based startup Memphis Meats announced this week that it had grown chicken in a lab -- chicken strips, to be precise. The strips, which were grown using self-reproducing cells, are technically "meat," but because the cells were not from an animal, the process by which this "meat" was "raised" is much cleaner, resulting in animal food that has the potential to sate both environmental groups as well as animal rights activists and vegetarians. Memphis Meats says it's hoping the product is ready for commercial sale by 2021. The company is part of an ever-increasing horde of Silicon Valley startups trying to solve the complicated problems of the meat industry, which range from cultural ideas about food to industrial and environmental issues to, increasingly, discussions about animal cruelty. [...] About 99 percent of animals raised for slaughter in the U.S. come from factory farms, and about a third of the land mass of the Earth is used in raising livestock. More so than chicken, livestock is incredibly inefficient to raise: It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of beef.
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What If You Could Eat Chicken Without Killing a Chicken?

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  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:42PM (#54060495)
    There's still no chicken in chicken nuggets.
  • ...can they cross the road?

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      ...can they cross the road?

      Sure, after they finish seminary and are ordained.

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:45PM (#54060533)
    I don't really care much about Peta's talking points. I would gladly eat cheaper meat, though.
  • While technically chicken muscle cells, the texture of the meat comes from being attached to a skeleton. Once the texture of the muscle striations is solved, then it can be a proper replacement.
    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      Just need to exercise it while it's growing [technovelgy.com].
      Of course, then you have to worry about it escaping the factory. [youtube.com]. ewwww, Bill Cosby.
    • I suspect by the time mechanically recovered meat has been processed, decontaminated, reconstituted, shaped, and cooked, there may be little difference. But by then even chicken doesn't quite taste like chicken anymore.

    • Exactly... I don't think this counts as 'meat', it is more of a collection of certain cells at this point, and I think it's over-hyped and we're still quite a ways from having a lab-grown 'meat'. Sort of like giving someone a pile of lentils and saying 'here's your veggie burger'. Sure, lentils can be part of a veggie burger, but it's just one part of the whole..

  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig@hogger.gmail@com> on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:48PM (#54060555) Journal
    Just go to Subway!
  • Not many wild chickens in the world. If we could make artificial chicken meat, and I'd be all for eating it since it seems less cruel to me, then people would stop breeding chickens for food.

    Chicken isn't the most perfect example for this because we also eat eggs. Apply that logic to pigs though - yep, much more of a problem.
    • Visit Kauai, HI sometime -- there is no shortage of wild chickens there!
  • and then go kill a chicken because i hate them and they're really dumb and eat my garden.
  • by reginaldo ( 1412879 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:51PM (#54060593)
    I think lab meat would have a hard time being marketed except to a select amount of people for a very long time. A large portion of people are against GMO food, regardless of it's benefit to the environment or society, regardless of the lack of scientific proof to negative claims. People will gladly, ignorantly, eat things that are "natural" even though they've been bred and scientifically modified over hundreds of years to be something that shouldn't exist naturally on earth. That's pretty much everything in the produce department. Put a labcoat on and make something though, and then you've become some mad scientist bent on ruining the world with your hubris. insert mad scientist laugh here.
    • A large portion of people are against GMO food

      A tiny handful of people are against GMO food, they are just exceedingly loud and annoying.

      Do you think anyone eating at McDonalds or Burger King gives a rats ass (ironically one of the many ingredients they are probably consuming) about GMO? Those are some of the largest food joints on earth...

      Most people do not care that much about GMO, nor conditions in which animals are treated. Most people want food and don't really care who or what had to die or suffer

      • You must be talking about the USA.
        Against popular believe most people don't live in the USA.

        • What in my post makes you think I'm talking about the U.S. only? In fact you find McDonalds all over the world. In fact the most vociferous anti-GMO people hail mostly from America, and the rest of the world cares FAR less about how food is obtained (Hello, Foie Gras).

          • Well, then you are obviously not aware that most people are against GMO. At least in Europe. Or what do you think why GMOs are banned in Europe, and the few exceptions need to be clearly labeled?

      • Polls and research do show that people think GMO food is unsafe. Take for example http://www.pewinternet.org/201... [pewinternet.org] I'm not sure people care about conditions of the animals so much, but they do care about the concept of "real, natural food." Whatever that means.
        • There is a huge difference between what people will say in polls and what they will actually eat. Soda and Candy are also "unsafe".

      • by mbone ( 558574 )

        In India people will riot over rumors that meat is involved in some common product.

  • meat is really just a collection cells, nutrients and water. Whether they are assembled in a womb or in a machine, if it tastes the same, has the same texture, and can be cooked the same way, then so what?

    I feel this question is asked by someone whose parents never tricked their kids into eating something by saying it was something else or didn't contain an ingredient that the child irrationally doesn't like.

    • if it tastes the same, has the same texture, and can be cooked the same way, then so what?

      As long as it also has the same nutrients.

  • KFC to switch to this!

    and no the saveings will not be passed to you.

    The yum! Brands ceo needs a new boat!

    • Yet people still order their Pizza Hut and eat their Taco Bell..

      Hope he likes that boat..

    • Actually, that's likely going to be true. Processed chicken be grown in vats, and real chicken will get more expensive and hard to find.

  • Looks like Clarke is predicting the future again.

  • Water is renewable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of beef.

    Water that is released by the animal into the environment, and flows back into the ocean. Where sunlight evaporates the water, they form into clouds and it rains down again.

    Main concerns are if you try to raise beef in the desert and have to divert rivers in order to support your operation. Or if you are emptying natural aquifers faster than they are replenished. But in many areas of the midwest and south there is sufficient surface water to operate a farm, and coming up with the 36 - 40 gallons of water pe

    • Those figures aren't talking about drinking water for cows. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the water required to grow the corn that the animals eat.

      And yes, a good fraction of the water used to grow corn is unsustainably mined from ancient aquifers.

      • Please tell me what the figures are talking about, and then tell me how much water is permanently removed from the water cycle as a result.
        Please include numbers.

  • Bring it on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @02:00PM (#54060697)
    I can't wait for the day in which it will be possible to buy meat surrogate, for all meats, at a reasonable price, and with a reasonable similarity to the real thing in texture, flavor, smell and taste.
  • What if you could eat pork without involving a pig? Would it be kosher? If so, that sounds like a market right there.

  • Counting water (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Friday March 17, 2017 @02:20PM (#54060927) Homepage Journal

    It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of beef

    Am I the only reminded of Azimov's The Martian Way [wikipedia.org]? I mean the part, where an Earth's politician is explaining to electorate, how much water (used as reaction mass) it takes for a spaceship to get into space. The book's main characters observe, that most of the water so used falls right back onto the planet. But at least, in that novel some amount of water, however minuscule compared to Earth's vast oceans, does leave...

    Well, in case of meat production — or indeed any other Earth-bound activity — no water is lost. Zero. Nada. So, what is the quoted statement supposed to mean?

    • Re:Counting water (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hipp5 ( 1635263 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @02:26PM (#54060979)

      Well, in case of meat production — or indeed any other Earth-bound activity — no water is lost. Zero. Nada. So, what is the quoted statement supposed to mean?

      Yes, the net amount of water stays the same on Earth, but some water is more useful than others. E.g. fresh is more useful than salty, treated is more useful than not, a unit of water in the Sahara is more useful than a unit of water in Canada. When we "use" water, we often turn useful water into not useful water, or move it from a place where it's useful to a place where it's less useful.

      Plus there's the issue where much of the water we "use" comes from groundwater sources, which can be completely non-renewable on any sort of human timescale.

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      Ture no water is lost. However, clean potable water is used, and what is left is energy and cost intensive to clean up to make it suitable for use again.
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        some water is more useful than others

        Yeah, and beef is more useful than wood chips. Ultimately, the cost is energy — and our star is still shining very bright and hot. We are still using a tiny fraction of what Sol outputs...

        Plus there's the issue where much of the water we "use" comes from groundwater sources, which can be completely non-renewable on any sort of human timescale.

        Why would one seek to "renew" it at all? Water under ground is just not useful...

        • Water under ground is just not useful..

          It's very useful to keep water underground, and pump up a little bit every day to use. It wouldn't be very convenient to dump the entire aquifer on your crops at once, and let it run off to the ocean, and/or evaporate.

    • Maybe you should go sit in a dinghy without any supplies in the middle of the Pacific ocean for a few days so you can find out just how useful all that "unlost" water really is.

  • This was an episode of the show "Better Off Ted"

  • With regular meat, the animal's growth is controlled by hormones, so I'm wondering if the lab meat is grown using various added hormones to force the growth. I know one of the reasons some people prefer organic meat is because they know it doesn't have added hormones. What are the health impacts of eating whatever added stuff they have to use to make the lab meat grow?

    With all the shortcuts the food industry has taken, if they get this lab meat to be cheaper than real meat, it will be a long time before p

  • Absolutely, assuming it's roughly on par with real meat in terms of cost and quality.

    It's really kind of crazy that we grow all this food to feed a whole animal, when we only want part of the animal. Plus there's the whole ethical question; I tend to not get too hung up about it, but given the choice between meat where an animal was raised in a feedlot and killed vs meat that was grown, I'll choose the latter.

    Realistically, I imagine it will be a little while before they can adequately replace a t-bone stea

    • assuming it's roughly on par with real meat in terms of cost and quality.

      That's a big assumption, given that most stuff from the food industry isn't very high in quality.

  • Not 2500 gallons of water for a pound of beef ... only 1799 !! http://gracelinks.org/blog/785... [gracelinks.org]
    • haha.. "Only." Much less worrisome given the 100 million or so cattle in the US. Luckily there's no areas of the US filled with cattle that's drought-prone.

      It depends on where you raise the cattle. 2,500 gallons is a pretty common number, I believe it comes from averaging out a bunch of areas in the US.

  • Their purpose in life is to reproduce and get eaten. In nature, that is exactly what happens to them. I really see no problem with doing it to them in industrial production. Of course, I do hope not to get reincarnated as a chicken next time, but we will see.

  • If I want to eat meat, something has to die for me to do so. I accept that. If I want to not kill an animal I can opt for meat-free options, something I do from time to time. Growing some kind of replacement in a lab strikes me as disgusting.

  • They need to be working on real problems like how to make chickens taste like bacon!
  • "About 99 percent of animals raised for slaughter in the U.S. come from factory farms, and about a third of the land mass of the Earth is used in raising livestock."

    Surprised this isn't being discussed more.

    Also surprised I'm not seeing a prevalence of 'well, I eat free-range/organic' remarks. Considering that free-range/organic requires MUCH MORE space, where are we going to keep these animals? Let's assume the space for free-range/organic is just a factor of 10 more...we're already using 1/3rd of the land

  • Chicken Little by Frederick Pohl.

    nothing more needs to be said.

  • We get "factory-chemical process created" chicken and then I would worry about the chemicals and the quality.

  • by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @03:42PM (#54061645) Homepage

    to raise one walnut and about a gallon to make a almond. Should we stop growing nut trees?

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @04:43PM (#54062157)

    >> It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of beef.

    So what? Water is an effectively infinite global resource and it isn't ever actually consumed (i.e. lost). It all ultimately passes through the cow/human back into the environment where it evaporates then falls as rain.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @05:42PM (#54062535)

      So what? Water is an effectively infinite global resource and it isn't ever actually consumed (i.e. lost).

      Non-contaminated fresh water is not an infinite resource in any sense of the term. Water is only an infinite resource if you also assume energy (to decontaminate and desalinate) is also an infinite resource (it isn't).

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @04:46PM (#54062165) Homepage Journal

    Wait? Is there someone wrong with killing a chicken? They are bred and exist to be eaten. It's equivalent to pulling a turnip out of the ground. Things die, we live.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eaglesrule ( 4607947 )

      The difference between a chicken and a turnip is one is a vertebrate animal that is capable of learned behavior, while the other is a vegetable. You can't raise and dispatch a turnip inhumanely, because it is incapable of consciousness and feeling, a quality that is shared between humans and prey animals. Of course, for the approximately %1 of the human population who are psychopathic and incapable of experiencing empathy, this is not likely a concern. However some people choose to source meat where the an

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