Should you be reading this column while consuming a meal, you might want to press pause on the eating thing. Although neither of these two stories is overly graphic, they do cause the eewww-factor meter to rev up.
Bizarre food news item #1:
Making cattle ecstatic the world over, scientists recently grew hamburger in a lab without harming any of our bovine, cud-chewing friends.
To do so, they took stem cells extracted from a biopsy of a cow and grew 20,000 muscle fibers. (Bet you won’t find that recipe in the “Joy of Cooking.”) When ready, these fibers were cut open and straightened — after all, who wants crooked meat? — and pressed together to form hamburger. Although biologically identical to beef, it isn’t actually beef. Moreover, before you fire up the barbeque for some good petri-dish burgers, you might want to be aware of the cost. Whereby “traditional” ground beef sets you back about three or four dollars a pound, this grown-in-a-lab version costs more than the average price of a house; about $340,000!
So why might a six-figure hamburger be of interest?
Well, aside from eventually being able to help feed more people, our appetite for meat means that about 30 percent of the Earth’s useable surface is covered by pasture land for animals, compared with just four percent used to feed humans. Moreover, livestock accounts for about five percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 40 percent of methane emissions. Summed up, cows are inefficient as food and they’re quite gassy. Who would have thunk?
Needless to say, a hamburger requiring a mortgage to finance it has a few hurdles to overcome, but the doctor who created “Frankenmeat” is confident that in two decades — when it’s more affordable and more tasty — people will actually prefer it.
To increase the appeal and give it better taste, he plans to add lab-grown fat cells and perhaps even bone cells for those who want a fully lab-cultured T-bone steak. Speaking for myself, I’m pretty competent at growing fat cells. I’ll be glad to share a few.
Which leads to… [Read more...]