Sci Fi Sausage, Beaker Bacon, Vat-Grown Veal, and Test Tube Tuna

Some musings on the glorious future of lab-grown meat, from the glorious future-oriented mag, H+:

In-Vitro Meat will be fashioned from any creature, not just domestics that were affordable to farm. Yes, ANY ANIMAL, even rare beasts like snow leopard, or Komodo Dragon. We will want to taste them all. Some researchers believe we will also be able to create IVM using the DNA of extinct beasts—obviously, "DinoBurgers" will be served at every six-year-old boy's birthday party.

Humans are animals, so every hipster will try Cannibalism. Perhaps we'll just eat people we don't like, as author Iain M. Banks predicted in his short story, "The State of the Art" with diners feasting on "Stewed Idi Amin." But I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines.

The rest of the piece is great, liming the economic turmoil to come in meat-based economies like Argentina and New Zealand, the ultra-urbanization of a non-agricultural America, the insertion of good fish fat in fat steaks, and the acceleration of the expanding circle of humanity.

But here's one place where H+ gets it wrong:

My final prediction is this: In-Vitro Meat relishes success first in Europe, partly because its "greener," but mostly they already eat "yucky" delicacies like snails, smoked eel, blood pudding, pig's head cheese, and haggis (sheep's stomach stuffed with oatmeal). In the USA, IVM will initially invade the market in Spam cans and Hot Dogs, shapes that salivating shoppers are sold on as mysterious & artificial, but edible & absolutely American.

My prediction: Beaker bacon will be seen in Europe as having far more in common with genetically-modified corn than delicious invertebrates. Powerful entrenched dairy and meat interests, plus the other farmers who support their industry (remember those milky protests just a few weeks ago?) will play on the European aversion to food biotech to achieve their own protectionist ends. And they are quite likely to be successful, in the short and mid-term at least.

Farmers are powerful here in America as well, of course, and cultured chicken won't make it onto the menu without a fight. Using Spam as the thin end of the wedge—forgive the mixed meat metaphor—will allow an easier transition here, but will slow the adoption of laboratory lamb on the other side of the Atlantic even more.

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  • ||

    It would definitely put a different spin on those "burger polls" at election time:

    Would you like an Obamaburger or a Huckaburger?"

  • ||

    I would love to see them figure out a way to grow tuna and salmon and other specicies of fish that really can't sustain populations high enough to meet demand. Our oceans are becoming a catastrophy.

    That said, the greens, being luddite pricks, will have a cow if and when this is ever prefected. Stop franken foods. We are all supposed to just die to help nature. No technology or happiness allowed.

  • But||

    John, you're a perpetual-opinion machine.

  • ||

    And you are a perpetual-dousche. I guess everyone has to be something.

  • But||

    It's spelled "douche." Here's a handy spell-check link. Learn it, know it, live it!

    http://www.spellchecker.net/spellcheck/

  • ||

    Fuck off, cunt.

  • crazy like a fawkes||

    Haggis note: the stomach is stuffed with the animal's entrails (heart, lungs, liver), with herbs and sometimes oatmeal minced in as well. The whole thing is boiled in the stomach.

  • ||

    Don't forget the minced onions! Yum!

  • Lord Jubjub||

    And this differs from normal European sausage. . .how?

  • juris imprudent||

    It is considerably larger and much more difficult to cook in your average skillet.

  • crazy like a fawkes||

    Yeah, can't really be done in a skillet. Really needs to be boiled.

  • Stupid Public||

    Sci Fi Sausage, Beaker Bacon, Vat-Grown Veal, and Test Tube Tuna

    Yay alliteration, the time-tested banality!

  • ||

    I question whether it is really 3 to 10 years away. I hope it is, but I doubt it.

    And also, fake meat won't destroy the real meat industry anymore than cubic zarconia destroyed the diamond industry. People are always going to be willing to pay for the real thing, even if it is just for show.

  • But||

    Just like whale oil!

  • ||

    I know. No one whales anymore. The whaling industry is gone, unless you count Japan and Norway.

    You are really on top of things there But.

  • ||

    I have a native American friend from the Pacific Northwest. His dad and uncle are permitted to hunt whales and do (at least that's what he told me)

  • Episiarch||

    Vat grown meat wouldn't be "fake" meat, so this really doesn't apply. It might even be more tender for not having been used, and therefore more desirable. A lot of people don't eat much liver because they feel it filter and contains a lot of toxins during the animal's life; vat liver wouldn't have that issue, so it would also be considered superior.

  • ||

    I am not sure how you could consider "fake" diamonds fake when you consider they have the same structure and are so close to the real thing that they are putting holograms on the real ones so no one is fooled.

    It won't be "real" in the sense that it didn't come from a cow just like a manufactured diamond didn't come from a mine. Someone will always want the one from the cow.

  • Chris||

    Until it becomes socially unacceptable to eat real meat. Perhaps there will be a black market for the real deal.

  • ||

    Ture. but it won't be that simple. Eating meat will become a way of giving the bird to the do gooders. Like most things involving humans, it will breakdown into tribes.

  • Chris||

    Don't get me wrong...I'm primarily motivated by such sentiments. But our numbers aren't large enough to support an industry.
    Well, maybe...I don't know. But I definitely think this will allow for a clear application of better-than-thou-ism; Egos tend to inflate, and they will pursue every avenue to that end, including moral indignation for those who still eat *animals*. Personally, I can't wait to eat a wooly-mammoth burger...or a dodo-dog.

  • ||

    Does this mean we can grow human flesh* for human consumption?

    * No humans were injured or killed to pruduce this product.

  • Chris||

    Ethically, I don't see a problem, but I remember reading somewhere about how cannibalization in any species leads to some brain damage or something. Anyone hear anything like this?

  • George Donner||

    I seem to recall something...

  • IHOP Hostess||

    Donner, party of seven. Donner, party of seven.

  • Nipplemancer||

    that only happens when eating brain and spinal matter. see: Kuru, Mad Cow Disease (BSE), and Cruetzfeld-Jacob Disease see also: prions
    also, i'm sure that with the vat-meat things like that could be avoided with the genetic modification.

  • NeonCat||

    Cubic zirconia and factory made diamonds aren't the same thing.

  • Chris||

    You're missing the point.

  • Episiarch||

    No he's not. Zirconia and diamonds are apples to oranges; cow muscle from a vat and cow muscle from a cow's back is apples to apples, because they are molecularly the same.

  • Chris||

    Yes, of course. But he's missing the point of what John said. Some people are after the idea of a thing and are thus willing to choose one thing over an equal or similar alternative simply for this reason alone.

  • ||

    Yup

  • ||

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Learn some physiology before you make such claims.

  • ||

    That was addressed to Episiarch - stupid threaded comments.

  • Mo||

    Cubic zirconia is made up of ZrO2, diamonds are made up of C. The only thing preventing artificial diamonds from hitting the market in a big way are regulations requiring artificial diamond to be marked as such, not consumer pressure.

  • kinnath||

    There was a SciFi short-story when I was growing up where a politician was addressing a legislative body to get a device that could create any type of food banned.

    The politician starts by spelling C A R N I V O R E and ends with him spelling C A N N I B A L.

  • ||

    It was an Asimov story. I can't remember the title.

  • kinnath||

    Sounds right

  • ||

    And don't forget Chicken Little from The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth: a giant mass of chicken muscle tissue that they harvest by cutting big slices off of it.

  • ||

    doesn't everyone know from CivCTP that beef vats cause mega-pollution.

  • dmh||

    I still think it's more cost effective to let meat breed/incubate itself. (Even with artificial insem.) (Probably for a long long time.)

  • BakedPenguin||

    Beaker bacon will be seen in Europe as having far more in common with genetically-modified corn than delicious invertebrates.

    Krusty: We had to cancel the Ribwich, because the creature we made it from went extinct.

    Guy: The pig?

    Krusty: Think smaller, and with more legs...

  • Susan||

    This needs to be banned before it starts because it is fvcked up.

  • Jerry||

    Won't somebody please think of the Peruvian body fat extraction crime syndicate? http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/.....y1zfvGRzyU

  • Pope Jimbo||

    They are already doomed.

    The USA is the Saudi Arabia of body fat and we will not allow anyone to challenge our monopoly.

    They must be broken.

  • Tim||

    The rest of the piece is great, liming the economic turmoil to come in meat-based economies like Argentina and New Zealand

    Why is that?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    What about those of us who like to go afield and kill our own cute woodland creatures? I don't think smashing a beaker full of venison would have the same rush as shooting a nice deer.

    I'm thinking that hunters are in for a tough slog if the urban dwellers can rail against the cruelty of hunting and still eat meat without being a hypocrite.

    That will be too bad. I've had so many good times hunting, I'd hate to see my sons not have the same chances as me.

  • ||

    Urbanites hate hunting until they hit a deer with their car. Then they are all for it.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    No, after they hit a deer with their car they want to raise taxes to pay for sharpshooters to shoot birth control capsules into the deer so they can't reproduce. That is the humane thing to do.

  • ||

    Some people are beyond parody.

  • Walter Jameson||

    I'm buying eatyourself.com right now.

  • ||

    +2

  • ||

    Hunting in the first world is a part of wildlife management. Most urban dwellers are capable of understaning that if it's explained to them.

  • T||

    Bullshit. Most urban dwellers can't understand where government money comes from, even if you explain it to them.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    In the first world, hunting is also population control.

    Even sticking a herbivore with a spear or arrow can lead to consequences that no amount of health insurance can cure.

    Urbanites are usually OK with the rooting for the wildlife against the natives.

  • ||

    "I imagine passionate lovers literally eating each other, growing sausages from their co-mingled tissues overnight in tabletop appliances similar to bread-making machines. "

    This provoked the same, stomach-turning uneasiness that I felt after reading the Valentine Michael Smith stew scene in "Stranger in a Strange Land."

    On the one hand, I think the developing technology can certainly help advance the state of medicine and organ repair or transplantation. I am further encouraged that we might someday soon produce "guilt-free meat," as I am a product of human evolution with a genetic predisposition for liking the taste of meat. I have also enjoyed exotic meats on occasion, and wouldn't mind trying a few more. But on the other hand, just talking some of the more bizarre foodstuffs that might be produced by emerging technology suppresses my appetite. I am quite content for "bite me" and "eating one's lover" to remain colorful figures of speech, thank you very much. Does that make me a prude?

  • Hand that feeds you||

    On the one hand ... But on the other hand
    Bite me.

  • NeonCat||

    It would bring new meaning to Jimmy Dean sausage. "Long pig" indeed.

  • edna||

    "it takes all kinds of critters to make farmer vincent's fritters."

    (not having read below to see if i was scooped)

  • creech||

    But this might leave LobsterGirl out of work.

  • MNG||

    I could find something for her to do

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Flash-Forward to Lobster Girl helping MNG with his taxes.

  • ||

    Another point that I've read about elsewhere is that lab created meats could lead to things like pork that is considered kosher/halal.

  • Doug||

    +1 for the title

  • MNG||

    This could set up interesting divisions between lefty vegetarians and these anti-science lefty types. Count me as hoping the former wins out.

  • ||

    I doubt this will happen in 10 years. But maybe. I think growing a tuna or a steak is harder than they make it out.

    But like you I am all for the idea of vat grown meat. What it would do for the oceans alone would be a miracle.

  • MNG||

    I'm all for bio-engineered food to by the way. That kind of thing makes it easier to feed hungry people and the science seems sound to me. I know some liberals disagree; they are wrong here. Stupid really.

  • ||

    "Cloned meat means eat everything" was handled well in Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan. Monkey brains, Welshman pâté, powdered children, dolphin, roast leg of bastard, baby seal eyes... a human meat restaurant called "Long Pig."

  • MNG||

    I plan to check out Transmetropolitan, even though Ellis' The Authority almost put me off it.

  • ||

    It has a crusading social justice journalist as the main character. Think Hunter S. Thompson beating people with a chair leg.

    The Authority was Ellis at his most cynical and bilious, his disgust at the most unreconstructed tropes of the superhero genre spilled out on the page. Millar, for all this faults, actually did better with the characters by removing all the social commentary and making it even more cynical and stylized.

    "The day I can't mutilate 30 radioactive teenagers is the day I hang up my cape."

    "What sort of superheroes show up to a fight drunk?"

  • robc||

    Does that make me a prude?

    Yes. But Im entirely in agreement with you.

    pork that is considered kosher/halal

    bacon salt is kosher.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Must...purchase...bacon salt...

  • Warty||

    I'm glad to see CivCTP got mentioned. High School Warty spent way too many hours playing that game instead of getting laid.

  • Warty||

    Warren Ellis

    I really, really hope that's the Warren Ellis who plays in The Bad Seeds.

  • ¢||

    But I imagine masturbators literally fucking themselves, 69ing whole beef-sides of their own vat-replicated cocks hook-dragged from backyard cryogenic sheds to the plastic-sheeted beds of their no longer quite so solitary passion.

  • Bingo||

    Woah, easy there killer.

  • robc||

    Wouldnt it be easier to develop a cow that wants to be eaten.

  • From republic to empire||

    Workin' on it.

  • ||

    May I urge you, sir, to consider my liver? It must be very rich and tender by now, I have been force feeding myself for months.

  • Lord Jubjub||

    The Family Guy take on that interesting.

  • T||

    But I imagine masturbators literally fucking themselves...

    Well, I think we can guess what your new hobby is going to be.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    But I imagine masturbators literally fucking themselves, 69ing whole beef-sides of their own vat-replicated cocks hook-dragged from backyard cryogenic sheds to the plastic-sheeted beds of their no longer quite so solitary passion.

    William S. Burroughs? I thought you were dead!

  • ||

    I suspect vat meat will start off as a WalMart / Spam kind of deal for poor people, until they can make it tastier and indistinguishable from the texture and flavor of real meat.

  • ||

    Why does reason always print very silly stuff like this?

    Note to idiots: this was published in h+, a shitty fantasy magazine, not in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

  • ||

    I mean, have you guys ever even given a thought to what the carbon source would be? How you would control conditions? How would you develop functional tissue (such as muscle).

    Well, let me tell you about my new invention! It's a self replicating, self regulating meat machine. It's carbon source is grass! Just plain old grass! It's a fucking cow.

  • Audiovore||

    Too bad the majority of american livestock is fed subsidized corn.

  • Predicador||

    ...and, thanks to artificial insemination, almost no cow in the developed countries ever gets to be fucking. :(

  • ||

    Which should be the real crime. Cockblocking Ranchers.

  • MNG||

    DB, don't have a cow, man.

  • ||

    MNG, I get angry with stuff like this because when it is promoted by Reason it makes libertarians look like a bunch of credulous kooks.

    How is KMW's 12,000 kcal per day diet working out anyway?

  • Lord Jubjub||

    Blast away at Scientific American, then, while you are at it. They had an article on the same technology a few months ago.

    It is doable. I figure the first application will be ground meats.

  • ||

    Scientific American is popular science magazine. It has no credibility as a scientific publication nor as a trade journal.

    If you quote it as an authority then your opinion on this matter is worthless.

  • ||

    I was under the impression that there had been at least a couple of tentatively successful trials in developing this sort of thing in the last few years.

  • ||

    I really do not see how this will be "greener" then conventional meat. I mean when you grow this stuff in home you still have to provide it with food. Food that is far more processed and takes far more energy to produce then simply putting the cows out on pasture land.

    In the conventional way of growing meat you can take all the feed to one place....now you have to transport it to every home in the country. Plus you have to power the device it is grown in, clean it, fix it and throw it away and replace it when it breaks....plus you have to make all these mini-home meat growing vats.

    Not saying i don't want one now...only that it probably will not be more environmentally friendly then the conventional way.

  • Joe_D||

    In theory, wildly uninformed theory, vat-meat could be more environmentally friendly because it would use less resources because only the edible parts are being grown, not hair and nails and teeth and brains(for non-asians at least)... etc.

    Vat-meat sounds like something that will eventually happen... though, as others have said, 10 years sounds impossible.

    Also, why would cheap crap like spam be first? This'll be terribly expensive and inefficient, at least at first, and vat-meat's first customers will probably be foody lunatics trying to make themselves feel special.

  • ||

    vat-meat could be more environmentally friendly because it would use less resources because only the edible parts are being grown, not hair and nails and teeth and brains

    This is plausible. I have noticed in my neck of the woods that orchardists are using more and more wires and posts in their orchards to grow their fruit and the trees have been getting smaller and thinner and producing fruit younger. The trend seems to be that Apples and Cherries will grow on vines rather then trees. This seems to correspond with your thoughts on vat meat.

    Still i think home grown vat meat is probably not very efficient. Vat meat factories on the other hand might make more sense.

    By the way there is no need to kick Asians around. Plenty of weird animal parts are eaten by all cultures.

  • Audiovore||

    Yeah, americans are the ones with Testicle Festivals after all.

  • ||

    Watching bourdain/zimmern, looks like just about everybody on the planet loves eating testicles.

  • juris imprudent||

    For all the various scifi allusions, why no love for Frank Herbert's slig, the GM amalgamation of slug and pig? The ultimate green meat - so to speak.

  • ||

    +1

  • Vat Meat Edison||

    We'll make Vat Meat so cheap that only the rich will eat real meat.

  • ||

    I wonder if you could survive solely on vat meat grown from your own cells.

    Wouldn't it have exactly what your body needs?

  • Luke Johnson||

    Depends on what you put in the broth you're growing it in, I suppose.

    As a 2.0 BAC sidenote, I wonder if you could slip some vitamin C producing bacteria into your large intestine. It's probably a pretty delicate ecosystem though.

  • ||

    When this product hits the market, I'll give it a try. If it's good, I'll buy it again. This will not affect whether I also buy meat from cattle or sheep, though.

    -jcr

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Is it cheaper to buy meat directly from the source?

    I never thought to cut out the middleman when buying meat before. Lousy profiteering ranchers!

  • ||

    Mmmmm........ Warty burger!!!!!!

  • Episiarch||

    They're all pink on the inside.

  • ||

    If it never had a face, would that mean Paul McCartney could put down that BocaBurger?

    Kevin

  • Audiovore||

    I think we could easily get there in 10yrs if there weren't any right leaning moralists getting in the way of R&D.

  • ||

    So it has a bunch of Kosher salt? Then I am going to try it. It is also important that if you are travelling and you want to keep things Kosher, you find an apartment with those conditions too. For instance, last year when I travelled to Argentina, I was looking only for Kosher apartments in Buenos Aires because I thought that is the best option in our case.
    Well, that would be my tip for the day.
    Cheers,
    Lindsay

  • ||

    I’ve been considering several software options for improving my english grammar. I read some raving reviews about Ginger software. Is anybody here is familiar with it and can give me an honest opinion? www.gingersoftware.com

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