Shmeat: At least it’s not meat glue…(!?)
You may have read my post about meat glue and been completely appalled. Glued meat is part animal and part synthetic lab protein). Now, you can have 100% synthetic lab protein called Shmeat. I’m not joking.
Shmeat (short for sheet of meat) is grown in labs from a live animal’s cells. To “grow” an abundance of lean chicken breast, first biopsy a chicken to harvest cells. Then, spread them across a spongy sheet with a nutritious blood-like substance so they can grow in size and number. Hence, victimless meat is borne. Er, raised. Er, tenderly nurtured in a petri dish?
- Environmental: We can reduce the amount of methane gas that animals grown for food produce. In turn, we could also stop growing so much feed corn. However, to maintain a temperature warm enough for lab meat cells to grow will require lots of fossil fuel.
- Animal Rights: We stop killing so many animals. PETA is eating this up, so much so that they’re offering $1M to anyone who can manufacture and market lab-concocted chicken by June. Seriously. If you want to get in on the ‘In Vitro Meat’ contest: http://www.peta.org/features/In-Vitro-Meat-Contest.aspx)
- Social: We could end world hunger!….if only our foreign policy was to actually give food aid other than beans, rice and corn. I seriously doubt that we’re going to create, package, store and ship this (costly) meat to starving nations. It’s more likely that this patent will be purchased by McDonalds and we’ll begin seeing ‘invitro chicken’ on ingredient lists nationwide.
- Health: Little risk of foodborne illness or cross contamination from other meats, less saturated fat and more omega-3 fats, no antibiotics or hormones. Or, we could just eat naturally lean meat and have a varied diet that includes good sources of omega-3 fats. It’s not difficult to get enough omega-3’s from food. You know, from real food – grown or raised in dirt.
If you haven’t deduced it by now, I’m a skeptic. In an effort to be objective, I’d like to also present the other side of the shmeat sheet:
- You won’t be able to tell the difference between meat and shmeat. Chicken breast lab shmeat will look, feel, and taste like it came from the actual ribcage of a chicken.
- We’re consuming so much processed food with so many preservatives and additives, that maybe (ah, I can’t believe I’m saying this), shmeat is a step in the right direction.
- Theoretically, if there are fewer animals to abuse, there will be less animal abuse. I can’t deny that I would like to reduce the cruel slaughtering of animals.
- You can tell in this graph, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es200130u, published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, that manmade meat will do less environmental damage than our current methods of raising most (but not all) meat.
Despite that there may be a legit argument; I still want my chicken coming from an actual chicken.