Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Not Cultured Enough For Cultured Meat

English: A meat mincer. Español: Un picador de...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you do when your normally open mind, shuts down and goes on a break? I was listening to the radio when a story came on about in-vitro meat, also known as shmeat, cultured meat, hydroponic meat, cruelty-free meat, vat-grown meat, victimless meat and test-tube meat. The basic idea is that scientists or tissue engineers can grow edible meat in a lab from tissue samples.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the implications. Suddenly all the concerns we have about how animals are treated could be addressed.  You could engineer meat without all of the normal chemicals and antibiotics.  It would benefit the planet in numerous ways.

So why am I grossed out?  Why does that sound like the least appetizing option I’ve ever been presented with? My attitude is pretty ridiculous…right?  I’d rather kill an animal than eat cultured meat? Was I a barbarian? In order to address the  sad realization that I had some questionable biases, I resigned myself to giving the idea more thought.  It was right around then that I came across a blog that suggested that not only was cultured meat a good idea, but if we developed it from human tissue it would be completely victimless. We could hardly claim animals gave consent to using their tissue but we could get informed consent from humans.  Essentially, it was a completely self-sufficient answer. It was the way of the future.  It was a mature, efficient, planet friendly solution to our desire to eat meat.

commstorm.comSo why does someone jokingly speculating that it would be the beginning of the zombie epidemic make strange, “call me a conspiracy theorist”, sense to me? What if that grown tissue didn’t stop growing?  What if we ate it and that flesh remained “alive” in us? What if it started to take over? I’m a pretty open minded person, honest, but this one just gives me the hives.  My husband has teased me about my Luddite attitude, but all I keep thinking is, “What!? Human meat! Eeeeeeeew, uh uh, no way, I am NOT eating Soylent Green!!!”

I can hear the waiter saying…”Would madame care for a little Caesar with her salad or will a grilled Frank be preferable? How about  a little Bertrand wrapped you?”

I think it’s time for me to consider vegetarianism.  It’s healthier, it’s delicious and I can go back to thinking I’m an open minded person because clearly, I’m not cultured enough for cultured meat.

So what about you?  Would you like to try some shmeat?


0 responses to “Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Not Cultured Enough For Cultured Meat

  • Thanks for the chuckle, but this is definitely a serious issue I’ve thought a lot about. I too keep thinking about eating more vegan dishes, but have yet to really make the effort. In a way, I don’t suppose it would bother me to eat this fake meat if it could be made to taste okay, say as taco filler or something. How else to feed a growing world? Taco Bell’s meat filling has a large percentage of oats as filler. Then I think about the issue of Jamie Oliver’s show where he tried to improve school lunches. In one episode, he took some kids into a kitchen had had the watch as chicken nuggets were made. The fat and gristle was ground before their eyes, but once the lump of unappealing chicken-like meat was coated and deep-fried, they didn’t care one iota that a mess of junk made it. Just sayin’ As a culture, we are disconnected from our food. While I would try fake meat, I don’t think it would ever hit the spot 😉

    • Good for you for seeing the opportunity, at least you are willing to try it. My husband has said that he would try it too. You are the second person to mention McDonald’s McNuggets as part of the shmeat conversation. Speaks volumes about the nuggets.

      You make such an excellent point about how disconnected we are from our food source. I know that if I had to kill cattle to eat meat, I wouldn’t eat meat. That statement alone is the argument for shmeat. Perhaps as a culture we should focus more of our energy on understanding the food chain and our role in it and a little less on trying to have our cake and eating it too.

  • When Sci Fi becomea real world, it is such a different perspective to think about. I can’t say I immediately pictured zombies, but now that it is in my head, there’s no going back.

  • UGH!!! What can I say? The idea that we could get informed consent to eat other humans is just too far out there for me. My grandfather raised beef cattle. They had good lives and he slaughtered them in a humane way. I’d rather see us go that route…improve their living conditions and allow them a painless death. I’d pay more for that. It’s a lifestyle choice whether to be a vegetarian and I have no problem with other people’s choices. But I am an unembarrassed carnivore. Most every species kill other animals for food. It’s only we humans that are blessed with a mind to examine that choice.

    • Well that was refreshing. Meat is good…period. 🙂 I do like a nice steak myself but I kept thinking if we have gone so far down the road that we want to manufacture meat, then it’s time to step away slowly and rethink. As you noted, we could do something crazy like be more humane and spend more. Seems like a nice alternative to being a zombie.

  • Adding this to my story idea list, just sayin…

    The whole idea behind this gives me the chills and not in a fun way. I do have to wonder many times what the heck is going through people’s minds. “I have seen the enemy and he is us.”

    • Hahahahahaa. I wish you would write a story about it, heaven knows it’s been plaguing me. 🙂 Jon I’ve never had an idea sit so uncomfortably in my mind, but this one I just can’t get past.

  • I don’t think I would want to eat cultured meat, and definitely don’t want to do anything with human meat, even if cultured. Your angel of zombie-land to come freaked me out a bit, to be honest 😀

    But something else comes to mind… I have never entirely understood the vegetarian life-style. Sure, everyone is free to do as he or she pleases but I like meat, a lot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it – and before you ask, I like animals, I don’t torture them and I do care about their well being.

    Evolution (or something else?) has stopped us from the need to go hunt our dinner but then again – pork or poultry are still a great source of protein, and tasty too (if cooked the right way). So why not eat meat?

    I don’t eat it every day though (I hear it’s not that healthy LOL). And I don’t think I can kill the animal myself… once I saw a rabbit right after it was skinned and it looked a lot like a skinned cat. So I never had rabbit again. But then again, when I buy steaks, it doesn’t quite resemble the animal itself and maybe that’s the main reason why I still eat meat. But I went way out of the scope of your post. Sorry 😀

    • Hahahahahaha, Diana I hate when I have an irrational thought but keep thinking it might have some truth to it, cultured meat and zombies, definitely qualifies as one of those thoughts. I should write a short story about it and get it out of my system. 🙂

      I like meat too and no, I don’t torture animals, well beyond immediate family members. 🙂 Every once in a while my local grocery store has rabbits in the meat section. I generally avoid the meat department on those days. It’s funny the biases we create. I’m grossed out by cultured meat, yet you couldn’t get me to kill an animal if that was the only way I could eat meat. Not only do I not want to kill an animal, but I want the animals I do eat, not to resemble those animals I won’t eat.

      No this is not a conversation about logic, it’s all back to those interesting taboos that govern us. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one being inconsistent. 🙂

  • Glynis Jolly says:
    September 15, 2013 @ 08:47 am

    I was fascinated with the story, Soylent Green. For me, it gave a clear picture of a theory of the future that I believe could really happen. This, of course, is not to say that it would happen — but it is possible, in my opinion. Sure, it’s gross and disgusting. Yet, the tug to survive could be that strong.

    Humans do look to meat for protein, usually because roots, nuts, and whatever else is protein is just too seasonal for us if we had to rely completely on nature. In today’s culture, of course, we don’t necessarily have to do that. However, what if the 2012 phenomenon was true, that we are now in what is called the 5th world where and when global changes are about to come about? Will we have to regress to the way we use to live before all of the inventions we have created and use so frequently?

    • I keep thinking, if we can synthesize meat by growing shmeat, we should be able to manufacture our proteins in other ways. In many respects, cultured meat is our way of addressing the nightmarish future Soylent Green portrays. As you noted, it may be disgusting but our will to survive is an impressive thing. If there are markers for these things, then I would say cultured meat for me comes a step or two before cannibalism. 🙂

  • I had EXACTLY the same reaction eeewwww…. Then there is the consideration of what we would do with the over population of domestic animals. Turn them out to fend for themselves? I can see it now. A child would come running to her mom and would say, “Mom, there is a cow in our yard eating our daisies”. Oh, the possibilities, they are a be mind boggling… 😀

    • I always wanted some pet cattle…not really. 🙂 I suspect there will be enough people who react as we do to make the transition period very, very long. Of course they still have to work out bringing down the cost of production and increasing output. I’m certain the cattle producers will also find a MILLION reason’s why this is not a good idea.

      I’ve been running through the possibilities in my head for all that extra cattle. Environmentally friendly lawn mowers? They would be a lawn mower and fertilizer in one. Maybe ride on ponies? Drink machine and your very own merry-go-round in one? 🙂

  • Eleanor Bell says:
    September 14, 2013 @ 09:33 am

    From what I understand the meat grown in the lab cannot protect itself against disease (it has no immune system). We would require chemicals and/or antibiotics to grow shmeat.
    If they can grow this lab meat without the chemicals and resources required today I would be fine eating it.
    When I think about the eating of human flesh “mad cow” disease comes to mind. We brought that on ourselves because we did soylent green to our farm animals (fed them ground up processed bits of themselves)
    I agree with you Debra becoming vegetarian is best way to not only save animals but also to use less resources of our planet.

    • Eleanor you make a great point. Big scale production is bound to change the sanitary conditions that shmeat is produced under and so while they might not need the pesticides, they will likely need other chemicals. I burst out laughing at the mad cow disease example. I hadn’t even gone there…a whole new set of ideas I can get the eeebee jeebees from.:)

  • I think I am off meat now. Ugh.

    Last week I watched a video of what is inside a McNugget and was thoroughly disgusted. There was fibres, unidentified textures, and a bunch of other stuff that was gross. The guy got them from McDonalds and took them home and looked under his microscope and showed us.

    This shmeat thing is just as bad. Ugh.

    • The McNugget story and cultured meat in close proximity, yeah that would have the potential to take my interest away from meat. McDonald’s launched an online campaign last year called, “Our Food, Your Questions”, it’s still running. They say they will answer any questions, I’d want to know about the McNuggets, or does white meat now mean white schmeat? 🙂

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