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Cultured Beef is Here

So that lab-grown burger thing finally happened.

Cultured Burger

(Photo by David Parry/PA Wire)

Three months and 20,000 muscle fibers later, Dutch researchers, led by Mark Post, managed to grow some meat in a petri dish. They’re calling it cultured beef, and this burger began as merely a few stem cells extracted from a cow’s shoulder, and now look!

At the unveiling event Monday, the meat was cooked in sunflower oil and butter and sampled by chosen tasters, Austrian food scientist Hanni Rützler, and Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based journalist and author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From The Future of Food.

So wow. This is both weird and cool and…well, really weird. What I’m curious to know is whether it has the same nutrient profile as ground beef. At this point, the in vitro meat is all muscle, and while a fat-free meat patty might sound like a great idea, you do have to consider the flavor factor. Curious to see how long that research takes.

I do like the idea that this technology could eventually offer an alternative to the massive scale of animal slaughter and its impact on human health and on the planet. Because it’s derived from animal cells, though, I’m curious to hear how people who follow vegan and vegetarian diets feel about it.

While I like the idea, I can’t say I’d be up for trying it yet. It’s sort of how I (still) feel about laser eye surgery—I’d rather wait until it becomes more mainstream with advances in technology so it’s not, like, “Hey, let’s do this crazy new thing in your eyeball!” Except the meat equivalent. I know laser vision correction is no longer new, but for the sake of illustrating a point…

Would you try cultured beef? 

Another Day, Another Beef Recall

While reading the paper this morning, I came across an article about another beef recall being put into action after two people died and more than a dozen people fell ill, possibly due to the same source of contamination: ground beef from a company called Fairbank Farms.

The voluntary recall, issued on Saturday by the company, includes 545,699 pounds of ground beef sold to retailers in 8 states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Some of the stores at which these products were sold include Price Chopper, Giant, Trader Joe’s Wild Harvest, and Shaws.
While I know that cooking can kill a lot of the bacteria, I still get really nervous when I read stuff like this. It seems to be happening way too often. There is a lot that the consumer can do to lower their chances of falling ill, but if you’re starting out with a contaminated product, there’s not a whole lot you can do.
Since one of the few foods I don’t like is ground beef, it’s not a huge deal to me, but I know that my dad, for example, practically lives off of the stuff. I feel like when I read about these things, it’s easy to feel like “oh, that’s just something that happens to other people,” but I’m sure that those people who get sick felt the same way.
While I’m not going to try to advocate a restrictive diet in which potentially dangerous foods are cut out (the list is way too long), I will say that events such as huge meat recalls should make people more concerned with knowing where their food comes from.
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