Envisioning A Future Of Custom-Grown Meat

"Today's special meat is a chop of Grévy's zebra flank, fresh out of the exercise amplifier and seared in giant squid fat."

The era of exotic meats grown to order–with no animals killed in the process–could be on its way. This August in London, Dr. Mark Post’s team from Maastricht University is at long last going to serve up the famous burger made from beef cells grown in a laboratory bioreactor.

The highly anticipated in-vitro meat has been under development for years, and the project has cost a reported quarter-million euros. Cells are extracted from living animals and cultured in the lab on a diet of glucose and amino acids, where they grow into small strips of muscle tissue. In order for the tissue to be more than a flabby gel, it must be exercised regularly. Thousands of the strips pressed together amount to a burger’s worth of meat.

Looking at how the sausage is made, be it traditional or lab-grown, is never appealing, But the potential here, for a world of delicious meat grown with no livestock involved, is pretty wild. CBC quotes Isha Datar of New Harvest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to meat alternatives:

Datar envisions a future where techniques for growing in vitro meat are so advanced that it “could happen in an appliance in our own home” or in a bioreactor at a restaurant “Perhaps … it’s something like a brew pub and they’re brewing an in-house meat,” she said. “And we perceive that as being artisanal and unique and exciting.”

PopSci agrees.