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lab-grown chicken meat--just how many resources and inputs go into it vs raising a real chicken...  RSS feed

 
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EDIT: Link to Article in the BBC

In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted that the human race would one day "escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium".

Eighty-seven years later, that day has come as we discovered at Just, a food company in San Francisco where we tasted chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather.

The chicken - which tasted like chicken - was still alive, reportedly roaming on a farm not far from the laboratory.

This meat is not to be confused with the vegetarian plant-based burgers and other meat-substitute products which are gaining popularity in supermarkets.

No, this is actual meat grown from animal cells and variously described as cultured, synthetic, in-vitro, lab-grown or even "clean" meat.

It takes about two days to produce a chicken nugget in a small bioreactor, using a protein to encourage the cells to multiply, some type of scaffold to give structure to the product and a culture, or growth, medium to feed the meat as it develops.



First off, why don't we just learn to eat and use the WHOLE animal, rather than just the legs, breast and wings.

Secondly, I just got to wonder how many resources went into making that bit of chicken. How much power does it take to fuel the bioreactor, how much protein and other cultures are fed to the cells so they develop? I highly doubt this lab-grown meat is more sustainable or uses less resources than raising and feeding a chicken...
 
pollinator
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I have to admit that while I am creeped out by this, part of me wonders if it tastes like "real" chicken vs "store" chicken.  Also, I wonder if any vegans would find this acceptable since there is no suffering to an animal, assuming the feather wasnt from a factory or lab chicken.

This does seem like it would be extremely costly and unsustainable.  Scary use of science, to me anyway.

 
Nicole Alderman
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Oooops! I forgot the link to the article! https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45865403?ns_mchannel=social&ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_source=facebook&ns_campaign=bbcnews

Here's a bit about the texture. It's supposedly even softer than a chicken nugget, so not like a pastured chicken at all.

We were given a rare taste and the results were impressive. The skin was crisp and the meat flavoursome although its internal texture was slightly softer than you would expect from a nugget at, say, McDonalds or KFC.

 
Tina Hillel
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Thanks for the link Nicole.  

Interesting article, although any comparison to a fast food nugget will never win me over. While it is great that these scientists want to improve factory farming practices and help feed more people with less environmental impact, it still seems like the impacts would just be shifted to other areas.

I think I agree with the comments mentioned in the article:

Teacher Ashley Pospisil, also from Lebanon, says she would prefer not to eat cell-based meat.
"I like to know where it came from and that it's natural and not processed from a lab," she says.
Linda Hilburn, who is tucking into a (cow) steak before heading home to Guthrie, Oklahoma agrees.
"I kind of like it having four feet in the beginning," she says.
"There's just something about man's creation that scares me. We've created havoc here. I kind of like the idea of God's creation."
 
pollinator
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I agree with Nicole, more people need to embrace nose to tail eating. While this is a novel approach, I don't really think it's needed. So many meals can be made from one chicken, and hogs are even better, never mind dairy. If humanity can be saved, I don't believe it will be through technology.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:
First off, why don't we just learn to eat and use the WHOLE animal, rather than just the legs, breast and wings.



The whole bird is used. The less popular parts are used in soups and other foods that contain chicken as well as pet food. I would bet the only part that isn't eaten is the feathers (and maybe those are rendered and eaten too).
 
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This is really interesting. There's a lot that bothers me and a lot that intrigues me. Chicken is just part of it. They're doing this with meat too. The 'artificialisation' of flavors and aromas never went that well, one would hope, as DNA is doing the heavy lifting here instead of some chemist... this might be a bit better.

I am highly skeptical, but not closed to the idea.

It's no longer if these products will be widespread but when, I know some loathsome capitalist types and they're very excited at any meat substitutes potential.

It's all rather Star Trek. Or maybe Red Dwarf. Cell cultures, voice to text, and 3D printers - voila! A machine that makes the food you ask for.

Imagine no more feedlot farming. Major plus for the planet.

Imagine the silly anti-cow brigade get their way. Livestock are removed from landscapes. Calamity. Major downfall for the planet. Cows caused global warming... silly folks, they'll blame anyone.

Imagine farms with livestock rates at or below the lands carrying capacity so pollution of waterways was no longer commonplace. The lab meat product will feed the masses, but farming will continue for the rich, and the wise... Both these markets, permies or ponses, demand quality.

It's a huge plus for animal activism too. While it won't stop we the carnivores farming hunting etc, it will put a lot of shonky operators out of business.

Here's hoping the industry is well regulated. Especially the waste streams which could be valuable stock/pet feed better than the Purina puke.

If it is well regulated, I'd eat it over factory farmed meat.

Of course, I hope it never comes to that choice.






 
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I like idea of some cancerous/stem cell from a chicken muscle in a vat of nutrients and letting it float and grow, then strain it, compress it maybe add some water kefir/egg/etc to bind it all togather.

Just like growing hydroponically in a basement/warehouse with led lighting and climate control, it uses alot more fossil fuel vs 'free' sunlight. The idea is that at some point we will another source of "free' energy.  Maybe every state will have a huge geothermal plant that tap the earth magma or something, or maybe we will cut down some 'virgin' forest to put in solar panel or to raise chicken the old way for our raising meat eating population.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Lucrecia - I don't know about Nicole, but I'm more referring to the human consumer. Yes, the whole animal is utilized but some of it is used in a very negligent way. Because there isn't a good market, it's just animal-by-product. And with some animals, in some areas, this is very wasteful. Like the lack of market for calves from dairy cows, some areas just have little to no market for these and they are used largely as animal-by-product. If all this was used for human consumption, less total animals would be necessary.
 
Dc Brown
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I was actually playing Devil's advocate to try generate some real debate, not emotional diatribes. But, I like a good rant too and (some of) these freaks deserve some scathing invective.

I think factory farms are abhorrent, I've yet to see how this type of farming plays out. And it will play out despite the fact they are indeed missing the point.

We need perma-cultures, not cell cultures.

These changes are not all driven by capitalists however. The way we farm enraged gen-X and Millenials and so this is a capitalist solution driven by consumer backlash. Permaculture is another solution to a broken agricultural system. But capitalists still run the planet.

I've got some marketing they'll be into:

PETRI MEAT. Catchy, huh.





 
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'... We slaughter 70 billion animals each year to feed seven billion people, says Dr Uma Valeti, a cardiologist who founded California-based Memphis Meats, a leading cell-based meat company.'

Not true. World population is about 7.5 Billion, a significant percentage of that is made up of vegetarians either by religious or financial choice/necessity e.g. the subcontinent, China, Africa, etc.

The medical fraternity is divided regarding meat consumption and various diseases, though consensus seems to be that Western-type consumption is typically bad AKA burger, fries and soda = the big three killers = kilojoules, man-made fats, and sugar/chemicals. Surprisingly, the old meat and three veg is a pretty healthy diet, perhaps as much as the Mediterranean one.

In the Frankenstein Chicken scenario: if it's unfamiliar and made in a factory/lab, it isn't gonna be a healthy choice.

We owe it to our children to feed them every part of an animal so their taste buds acclimatise to real flavours and textures, when they appreciate those attributes there will be little waste.

Besides, insects and molluscs (snails) are the future: we get the opportunity to bite back!
 
Stacy Witscher
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One of the issues is that places that are currently vegetarian by necessity wish to change this and be more western (rightly or wrongly), placing more pressure on these systems. I don't really like classifying people who can't afford meat as vegetarian. I feel like that is disingenuous, they are just poor. Just because I can't afford caviar, doesn't mean I'm a non-fish egg eater. Silly.
 
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The term "capitalist" is thrown around too loosely by too many people with only a vague idea of what it actually means.

Nowadays, it seems to be taken to mean anyone with a profit motive, and usually lacking any kind of moral centre.

I encourage any who actually care about words and their meanings to read even just the following: Capitalism

I abhor free-market or laissez-faire models because of the tendencies so often attributed to all capitalists. If you bring in Welfare Capitalism, with some measure of State Capitalism for sectors representing necessities for life in society, things such as (in my opinion) transportation, healthcare, any mandatory insurance, power, water; with an eye to eliminating even the possibility of a profit motive for things people can't live without, much of the stigma simply doesn't apply.

We need reason, not reasonable-sounding catchphrases.

I don't think I am in favour of lab-grown meat. It doesn't scare me as much as factory farms, which are essentially bioreactors for drug-resistant pathogens, whose test subjects are then slaughtered and fed to the unknowing masses, a scary kind of culinary Russian Roulette.

Incidentally, I like Jim Butcher's treatment of lab-grown or cultured meat and veggies in his newest series, The Aeronaut's Windlass. It's a futuristic science fantasy of sorts that deals with people on a potential future earth where the surface is lethally dangerous and filled with predators, so people live in tower structures called "Spires," and travel between spires is done with airships. Food, both meat and veg, is grown in vatteries, where vats of nutrient solutions appropriate to food type are housed.

I don't think the concept is necessary for us. It's not my cup of tea.

I think that pursuing intensive food-waste elimination programs, as seen to some extent in France, coupled with expiring food programs for the poor, expired food programs to feed urban and suburban backyard livestock, and insect-based food waste reduction strategies for both entomophagy and for the feeding of applicable livestock is the back-end approach to dealing with food waste.

We have to transition from what is currently going on to something more sustainable anyways, and a new artificial food product isn't going to solve the issues plaguing the food industry at every stage of shipping, right up to when expired food gets thrown out at the grocery store.

So it's not just a question of how many resources and inputs go into the artificial chicken product, though that might be relevant in the context of comparing it with factory farming.

In my opinion, this is just a balm to soothe the consciences of people who don't have a healthy view of animals-as-food. I get vegetarians, and even vegans, to an extent, although I enjoy it every time I am drawn into a conversation about how veganism is so much better for all the little animals, unless they live in the soil that's tilled seven times a year.

What happens when we discover that the plant kingdom is uncomfortably (or unpalatably?) sentient for consumption? Will we grow the fruit and stems and leaves and tubers, each separately in their own nutrient vats?

And how nutrient-dense is it all going to be? Will it be actual food, or will it just taste and feel like real food, but will poison us, or just cause obesity epidemics because we eat and eat and never feel full?

No, you're probably right. That last won't ever happen.

-CK
 
Dc Brown
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Oh gee correct. I don't know what I'm saying.

Enjoy the emotional preaching to the choir, bound to help.

Guess this is why they have a separate forum which I didn't realize I'm in.

But now I know, I'm out.
 
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