December 1, 2009

Frankenstein's Spam!

They bloated me with science.

Pork.  Grown in a petri dish.  Lab meat.  PETA and the Vegetarian Society have already signed off on the ethics of it, which I assume as long as it doesn't involve Elsie the Cow meeting Anton Chigurh, generally passes muster.  And I was already looking forward to a future with tasty, tasty Soylent Green.   

From the article:
They initially extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig. Called myoblasts, these cells are programmed to grow into muscle and repair damage in animals.

The cells were then incubated in a solution containing nutrients to encourage them to multiply indefinitely. This nutritious “broth” is derived from the blood products of animal foetuses, although the intention is to come up with a synthetic solution.

The result was sticky muscle tissue that requires exercise, like human muscles, to turn it into a tougher steak-like consistency.

“You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals,” said Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, who is leading the Dutch government-funded research.

Post and his colleagues have so far managed to develop a soggy form of pork and are seeking to improve its texture. “What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue,” Post said.

“We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there. This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it.

Yeah, okay. Call me a traditionalist, but I'd rather not exercise my food prior to eating it. I have enough trouble getting up the energy to rake the leaves in the yard, so working out my steak on the speed bag before it hits the broiler is an impossible dream.

There are interesting ethical implications here, though, and although part of me wants to scream "unclean" and "abomination," another part thinks that world hunger is a stickier wicket than artificial meat. And there's the climate thing, too, of course. Less cows equal less methane emissions equal less global warming, and less cows also equal less deforestation (for grassy plains) and more carbon dioxide transfer, at least in theory. So, there's that. But it still feels creepy.

Nonetheless, Hamoeba (TM) will probably taste better and be healthier than your average Safeway hotdog.


  1. Makes me think of the sligs (half slug, half pig) in the Dune books.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Bret. I was thinking along the same SciFi lines. I was looking for images of the self-serving pig from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but no luck.