Food News

Dutch Scientists Invent $320,000 Burger Grown from Cow Stem Cells

For $320,000, you can send your children to college, buy a house -- or eat the most expensive burger on the planet. At the University of Maastricht, Dutch scientists have engineered meat without the murder, growing cow stem cells in a petri dish instead of the fields bordering the interstate.

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Led by Dutch scientist Mark Post, the experiment incubated cow stem cells in a vat until they grew into thousands of thin strips of beef muscle. The recipe then called for the meat to be minced and later balled together with lab-grown animal fat.

The lab was funded by a ₤250,000 donation ($320,000), by an anonymous benefactor who stipulated that he be the first to taste the meat. According to Post, early tastings of the test tube meat have been two thumbs up, and that's even before the good stuff (test tube animal fat) was added to it.

However, this in vitro meat doesn't mean the end to the vegetarianism as we know it because as Sharon Palmer, a plant-based nutrition expert who collaborates with Meatless Mondays explains, murder isn't the only reason people abstain from meat.

"If animal welfare is the issue, then if a new type of meat were created that posed absolutely no harm to animals in its production, then I suppose these individuals would have no specific complaints about stem cell burgers," Palmer rationalizes.

However, Palmer doubts the popularity of this new meat because many vegetarians don't like the taste of meat, even if it was ethically produced without the slaughterhouse.

"After a number of years, vegetarians do not like the taste, smell, and appearance of [meat]. They begin to find it disgusting!" Palmer said. "They love clean, plant-based foods that are free of any animal flesh."

Confident that this murderless meat will not convert vegetarians to omnivorous diets anytime soon, Palmer speculates that test tube meat is, well, kind of weird.

"Most of the vegetarians I know have reacted negatively to the reports of this stem-cell based meat, finding it to be another form of frankenfoods," Palmer points out. "Most vegetarians would prefer to find plant-based solutions to eating, such as trimming meat to eat more soy, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables as protein sources."

Regardless of your stance, this first-of-its-kind meat will be unveiled in a tasting in London on August 5th. Even though it will be a lifetime before these stem cell patties wind up at Publix, it could mark the end of murdering livestock for food.

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson