One of the cardinal rules of blog titles is NOT to use question marks. I have done this two days in a row, why? I am just a curious kind of person? That’s one reason and the other is that I get links (mainly from my husband) about all kinds of interesting things. Most of them sound like sci-fi movies but they’re not. This stuff is really happening. Some of it scares the bejeezes out of me and some of it makes me hopeful that mankind (including women)may actually survive on the planet. This last article he sent to me has me waffling between hope and despair. Scientists are close to growing meat in petri dishes for human consumption! WOW I'm not sure if that's a great idea or another frankenfood for me to worry about. Thus another question mark. I also couldn't resist the reference to those long ago commercials about missing meat in fast food sandwiches. So, excuse my faux pas.
First, here’s a brief on the science involved. Scientist use cow muscle stem cells as a base. Really stem cells are undifferentiated but for this biology lesson this will do.They grow the cells in a lab about a million times. Once the mass of cells is large enough, it is moved to petri dishes and supplied with nutrients to continue the growth process. The little muscle cells are even given an exercise routine using Velcro bands to help them to grow. The mental vision I got for this was particularly funny. The fat cells are grown in a different nutrient broth to be added later to create the “marbling” needed for proper consistency. Fascinating
There are pros and cons to this; as is the case with almost everything. Dr. Mark Post of Eindhoven University in the Netherlands is part of the cadre of scientists trying to solve the inevitable shortage of food needed to feed the growing population on this planet. Already too many people are food deprived around the world including these United States. Supply and demand issues are not the only concerns of this group of gastronomic scientist. They are working to improve the environment as well.
Raising animals is a resource-intensive process. About 30% of the world’s ice-free land is used for it. Considering that only 15% of the plant material consumed by the cattle is used to create the meat we consume, that’s a low yield for input deal.
Ruminants also contribute greatly to the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Put simply, cow farts are bad for the ozone layer. So between taking up a lot of space and farting too much for the atmosphere, cattle are a big problem.
I have to be honest. I don’t eat beef. I haven’t for years. The last time I tried was in the 1980’s. I invented gods to pray to at the porcelain bowl. I do however; wish my burger and steak loving friends had an alternative source that is less detrimental to the environment, so I rather like the idea of hydroponically produced quarter pounders. At this point in development the quarter pounder would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter million euros. That’s a lot of lettuce.