Crazy Expensive In Vitro Burger Sounds Weird, Tastes 'Reasonably Good'

Illustration for article titled Crazy Expensive In Vitro Burger Sounds Weird, Tastes 'Reasonably Good'

People! We are living in the future. Scientists are working on growing hamburger in a lab. It's sometimes referred to as shmeat, as in meat, shmeat.


As Henry Fountain writes for the New York Times, Dr. Mark Post has, um, grown a five-ounce hamburger which will be cooked and eaten at an event in London this summer:

Yet growing meat in the laboratory has proved difficult and devilishly expensive. Dr. Post, who knows as much about the subject as anybody, has repeatedly postponed the hamburger cook-off, which was originally expected to take place in November. His burger consists of about 20,000 thin strips of cultured muscle tissue. Dr. Post, who has conducted some informal taste tests, said that even without any fat, the tissue “tastes reasonably good.” For the London event he plans to add only salt and pepper.

The burger cost about $325,000 to create. But the point is that although this technology is in the very early stages, it exists. And to some extent, you can cut out the middleman, aka the cow: Hanna Tuomisto, who researched labburgers while at the University of Oxford in England says: “It’s really about the conversion of feed to meat… In cultured meat production it’s much more efficient; only the meat is produced, and not all the other parts.”

Although shmeat doesn't eliminate the need for cattle completely, it could help with the environmental issues surrounding meat, food safety and maybe even food shortages. And who knows what else? A company called Modern Meadow is also working on some schmeat, as well as grown-in-a-lab leather. What if vegetarians and vegans could buy and consume animal-based products that were made without actually harming animals. Would they?

And you know, since the apocalypse is nigh, we're gonna need some hi-tech options before shit gets all Hunger Games. It could be argued that schmeat is freaky, dangerous, the stuff of dystopian novels and horror films (OMG can the cells become sentient???) But it's pretty cool that Jetsons-esque technology is no longer just a fantasy — and that it could, very soon, alleviate the ecological impact humans have on the planet. Dr. Post says: “The point is, we already have sufficient technology to make a product that we could call meat or cultured beef, and we can eat it and we survive.” Can we get shmies with that?


Image via File404/Shutterstock.



As a reluctant vegetarian (read Fast Food Nation, couldn't stomach it after that, yes I know that's sort of obnoxious) I am SO EXCITED about this. It's like meat, but without all the associated guilt and/or ecoli!

I would totally eat a pulled-schmeat sandwich (tee-hee). I miss hamburgers. Stupid personal ethical code :(