Vatburger

Yesterday’s big story was the production of a hamburger made from lab-grown meat.  As Reuters reports, one of the lead scientists in the project is Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht.  Being a Nederlander, Mynheer Post made a “burger” that seems more like a bitterbal:


To prepare the burger, scientists combined the cultured beef with other ingredients normally used in burgers, such as salt, breadcrumbs and egg powder. Red beet juice and saffron have been added to bring out its natural colors.

I, myself, would quibble that the addition of beet juice and saffron don’t really bring out the “natural” colors of the vatmeat, they bring out the natural colors of beet juice and saffron. 

Steak eating madman and bonafide rock star tsam wants something more ambitious from the meatmakers:

Also, if you’re gonna manufacture meat in a test tube, go for the ribeye or porterhouse, not fucking HAMBURGER. Geez. WTF?

I have to say, the thought of being able to grow my own ribeye and bacon is awfully intriguing. I LIKE IT.

I churlishly pointed out the fact that ribeyes and porterhouses require ribs and that T-shaped bone by definition.  I suppose that some sort of bony lattice could be built so that the meat could be grown on it.  Perhaps a robot “skeleton” could be made so that the artificial muscle fibers could be exercised in order to provide for a better texture.

Of course, the growth of meat in a lab can be taken to disturbing extremes- it raises the possibility of cannibalism without murder, should human meat be grown in a lab.  Would eating the vat-grown meat of endangered species be unethical?  How about eating meat cloned from extinct animals?  Are there “Flintstones” style brontosaur ribs in our future?

Would eating meat that is genetically “human”, but had been grown from a swab of cheek-lining epithelial cells be evil?  If Sergey Brin bankrolled the cultivation of human meat in a lab for human consumption, would that violate Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto (the motto that Google routinely violates with its data mining operations)?  Would it be considered autocannibalism if one grows lab-meat from one’s own flesh and eats it?  If Doctor Post told you “Eat Me!”, would he mean it literally? 

So many questions, operational and ethical… (for the record, I think cruelty-free meat would be great) at any rate, as the technology improves, the prospect of vat-grown meat becomes more likely.  This disturbs me a lot less than the prospect of poop patties.

Note: Post title riffs off Fatburger.  In a weird sort of synchronicity, I just learned that a Fatburger opened up in Manhattan.

Postscript: Damn, if the Shroud of Turin were authentic, and meat could be cloned from Jesus’ cells, it would give the Eucharist an entirely new meaning.

The hits keep on coming: A Sergey Brin funded cloned human meat product could be called Soylent Brin.  It could be made into Brinburgers.

Originally posted at my eponymous blog, now posted here at America’s meatiest blog.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 08/06/13 at 05:54 PM • Permalink

Categories: Geek Speak

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Now that I’ve given it some more thought, since cell culture is tending to this sort of thing anyway—probably the best thing from a culinary view that could be made(and probably even more expensive to design than yon shmeaty-vatburger) would be organ meat. Kidneys. Liver. Heart. Gizzards. But would they taste as good if not used for their, um, organic purposes?

The intersection of “foodie” and “science-fan” make this too interesting a topic for me.

There’s a lot of positive to this idea, like production of protein using a lot less resources and in a lot less nasty way than current typical agribusiness practices.  I figure we’ve already killed the oceans with over-fishing, but being able to lab-raise protein for human an (and pet) consumption would certainly reduce the global suffering ratio, for animals and humans. 

But the thing I would enjoy the most?  Watching militant vegans perform the most complex mental contortions yet to decide that lab meat is murder too.

Just in case you weren’t grossed out enough by the vatburger, I give you ‘fatberg’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/23586290

Comment by ms yafb on 08/07/13 at 12:17 PM

If they’re going for the burger market, the meat protein’s the last thing to focus on. They need to synthesize gristle, hooves, bristles, e coli ...

... it raises the possibility of cannibalism without murder, should human meat be grown in a lab. 

Such quandaries could be sidestepped by having everybody donate cells of their own that could be cultured into their own personal brand of meaty comestibles.

How’s about that then, vegans?

Just in case you weren’t grossed out enough by the vatburger, I give you ‘fatberg’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/23586290

And they just pressure-hosed it away! In these times of hydrocarbon shortages, that berg represented paydirt that should have been fracked and canned, not flushed downstream.

I saw this on the news and it grossed me out. Real meat please. lol

This is really exciting to me! I eat meat, but I certainly don’t have to; it’s not as though anything other than the juices are digested.

A Morel mushroom cooked in butter and garlic has a superior rich “steak” flavor with none of the cholesterol and fat negatives.

And who other than the profiteers supports the atrocious abuse we perpetrate on livestock through industrial farming?

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