Cultured meat has shown increasing promise over the past few years. like all technology, when it was in its infancy research was INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE.
Yet with all technologies it will continue to improve so long as there is an incentive to do so. And there is an incentive
Economically the benefits of lab grown meat is very promising. Factors such as production time, and resource use are vastly in its favor. Where it still may struggle is with its social perception.
Many people are hesitant to eat something that has literally been grown in a lab. The perception is that because it’s unnatural, it’s unhealthy.
Media has contributed strongly to this perception. I’m sure everyone has seen some depiction of a mass-produced ooze being fed to consumers. My most memorable version of this trope was from an episode of SpongeBob, a show that’s near and dear to my childhood.
Ironically most teams working on cultured meat have only managed to reproduce the meat at a cellular level, which is eerily like the pink sludge TV trope. Still, its possible applications are pretty impressive. Even with just a cellular beef or chicken recreation we could make foods like chicken nuggets, or hamburgers more efficiently. Yet it doesn’t do much to help with its public perception.
How Could Cultured Meat Win Over The Crowd?
The holy grail of cultured meat comes in creating a structurally identical cut, like a whole steak, or chicken breast. This is a much more difficult task. These meaty structures are comprised of many different cell types arranged in complex and very recognizable forms. If the cell structure isn’t right the flavor or texture could be off.
And people WILL notice. It’s the struggle of recreating something that people are VERY familiar with. But if it can be done it could go a very long way in shifting public perception.
Cultured meat does have some strong allies in both its economic viability and the Animal Rights community. (Two groups that rarely get along) The economic types like the lower cost and resources needed, while the animal rights people have serious grievances over the current model of factory farming.
So long as the cultured meat is strictly tested, and regulated for safety (which all our food should be) it has the potential to replace factory farms, and relieve all the animal suffering that they cause. It would also do this while being a much more efficient way of feeding a population.
I’ll have more posts about advances in agriculture in the future so check back in a bit.
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