The Doctor Frankenstein of Food

I was recently going through my morning news feeds when the headline of an article caught my eye... "Grow you own meat". I was shocked and surprised at what I read.

The article looks at a group of researchers in the Netherlands who are trying to turn the meat industry on its head. You may be thinking: “Great, they’re probably looking for better farming methods, increasing organic farming of cattle and emphasizing the need for more grass-fed beef as opposed to the antibiotic saturated grain-fed excuses for meat that’s dominating the meat market throughout western world.”

I know…I was thinking (and hoping) the same thing. Unfortunately, the researchers are doing something totally different and to be honest, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

You see, Professor Mark Post and his team are making meat without going anywhere near a herd of cattle, or a farm or the countryside. No, they’re cooking up experiments in a lab that seem like something straight out of a horror sci-fi story.

The following excerpt is taken from the article:

“Instead of getting meat from animals raised in pastures, he wants to grow steaks in lab conditions, directly from muscle stem cells. If successful, the technology will transform the way we produce food. ‘We want to turn meat production from a farming process to a factory process,’ he explained.”

Now let’s look at the arguments…

  1. Prof. Post says: “"I think everybody knows subconsciously that the way we produce meat is not sustainable and isn't friendly to animals." Personally, I couldn’t agree more with him. The majority of commercially farmed meat is full of antibiotics and the whole treatment issue of the animals is much to be desired. However, in saying this, I believe that solutions need to be (and can be) implemented to ensure better farming and harvesting of beef. Bulldoze a few big pharmaceutical facilities and replace them with green pastures to farm cattle maybe?
  2. According to the article “livestock farming accounts for around 18% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions” and “around 10 per cent of the world's fresh water supplies”. I don’t know where or how the journalist got these figures. Either way, one just has to look at the massive industrial sector (and many others) where factories almost always pump out serious amounts of greenhouse gases every second. I’m sure the meat industry can improve but it’s a fraction of the total amount. Prof. Post needs to shock the muscle cells in order to stimulate growth…I wonder how many greenhouse gases are emitted by his researchers and the carbon-footprint they need to get the electricity need to continually shock the muscles every second of every day to get a steak produced.
  3. The following excerpt came as the biggest shock to me…Prof. Post says: “We don't really know where the taste of meat comes from…We assume it comes from fat, but there may be other components, most of them are unknown so it's a bit of a mystery how the conditions we use during the culturing of the meat will affect the taste." Ask any half-decent chef where a big part of the flavor of meat comes from and he/she will say the fat 99% of the time. No wonder the professor is struggling to find a way to grow fat…you simply cannot. It’s natural and found in real organisms known as cattle, poultry and yes, even people. It’s a product of metabolic processes and other extremely complicated yet amazing physiological effects. You’ll find fat in cattle found on the greenest pastures as well as those subjected to intensive farming. Fat is necessary for the meat’s flavor and in moderate amounts, it’s necessary for the human body and endocrine system to function properly.

I can understand Prof. Post’s good intentions but I believe his methods are not viable. Some people will argue for animal welfare and better environmental emissions, while some people will question the ethics of growing meat for commercial use.

Personally, I’d like to see better quality meat in general…from the farms to the abattoirs to the treatment of the cattle. I think there is nothing better than an excellent quality steak sourced from an animal that has lived a good life living in a field eating grass, hasn’t been injected with antibiotics and was harvested (the PC word for slaughtered) quickly and in hygienic humane conditions.

Some people may think I’m living in a dream world but some farmers, meat suppliers and butchers are already moving in this direction and I think it’s great for everyone…regardless if you’re a meat-lover or not.

I know the topic of meat production can stir up people’s emotions, which makes it a great talking point. What do you think?

6 Responses

You think that is bad, in Japan they reclaim feces to reconstitute into back into protein. Recycling taking it one step too far.

thuy November 17 2011

One doesn’t need it often, or not at all ! People like Dr. Mercola who pushes meat, eggs, butter, milk, (raw dairy) and his "concentrated" whey protein powder which was challenged

by the very reputable Byron Richards as being "whey" off base.. Obviously no reponse from Mercola. Many get along just fine without the animal protein, providing they don’ttry and live on chips, white bread, etc.

mike November 19 2011

I agree with your view point Warren.

I highly recommend reading ‘Deep Nutrition Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food’ or Kay Baxter’s ‘Change of Heart’ to bring more understanding of why nutrient dense meat/organs/bone brothes are important components of a healthy diet. Flavour comes from nutrient density (the fat containing many of the important nutrients). Commericially reared chickens have such a short life span in an unnatural environment and hence they have a very low nutrient density. Rarebreed chickens rared in a natural environment have a significantly higher nutrient density which means our cells begin the recognise the food!

Lab meat will provide protein without nutrition. Our bodies will not recognise it!

Aleena December 01 2011

I think that we are going too far with a lot of this science- tinkering with some of these ideas can be very dangerous . I am not a religious person ,and was raised in a scientific family, but I feel that we are already messing with nature in a large enough way.

I support free range organic as much as possible and am horrified at battery hens, mega dairies and pig husbandry. I do support Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall at River Cottage in the Uk and Jamie Oliver for bringing our attention to the way our food is produced.

We are going to have a clean food shortage in the world if we keep on increasing our populations and we will need to deal with the basic issues, but I do feel that we can better use our good soils and water supplies with a little thought and planning.

So I agree- well kept animals- good lives and husbandry will provide us with quality food. I would rather eat a very small amount of meat/chicken/ fish raised in a sensible free range way than a huge chicken filled with goodness know what !!

Helen November 17 2011

I kept thinking of Quorn. For those who dont know of this, it is Chicken-Flavored Fungus. Yes, thats right! This company grows fungus and flavor it with a fake chicken flavor. And people are eating it up. I like my food least tampered with. My veggies raw or steamed. My meat must be in a solid form (no ground up somethings…) Ok, I dont eat meat raw.

Tess November 19 2011

Sure it gives me the willies, heeby-jeebies, and the creeps, but I’m for exploring anything new that means we won’t have to kill animals for a our food. I don’t care how nicely you want to wrap it up, or how pretty you try to make life before the kill, it’s all pretty distasteful to me that we still kill other living creatures to sustain ourselves. I would accept a viable alternative to eating something that once had consciousness. I’m leaning toward vegetarianism as it is. If I can get meat flavor without killing something, sure, let’s explore the idea. But yeah, as presented, this does really creep me out.

Liz November 18 2011

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