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Cultivated Meat

Cultivated meat is making big strides in the food industry. What is it and what can you expect of it?

Cultivated meat, otherwise known as cultured meat, was introduced 10 years ago by a Dutch team of scientists, in the form of a burger. Cultivated meat is developed from animal cell culture. As a part of the production process,

  1. Stem cells are extracted from an animal,
  2. placed in metal tanks called bioreactors,
  3. with nutrients added,
  4. and finally arranged to form the type of meat being produced.

The last step, as shown above, is called scaffolding.
Currently, there are more than 150 companies globally with the goal of producing and selling cultivated meat. The FDA has also declared cultivated meat safe to eat. However, cultivated meat is not expected to be widely available for a few years, at the very least. As of right now, Huber’s Butchery, located in Singapore, is the only restaurant in the world where diners can try cultivated chicken strips in a sandwich with a side of fries or on a “spring vegetable orecchiette” pasta, for roughly $14.

Meat accounts for over half of all greenhouse gases from food production. One kilo of beef produces 70 kg of emissions.

Meat accounts for over half of all greenhouse gases from food production. One kilo of beef produces 70 kg of emissions.

As for whether cultivated meat is better for the environment, some studies have found that it could reduce greenhouse emissions significantly, while other studies found the very opposite. For example, one study found that cultivated meat would produce 96% fewer emissions compared to conventional meat, while another found that it would decrease emissions by 74-87%. Another found that, because of the substantial amounts of energy needed for the production process, cultivated meat could be worse for the environment than conventional livestock. At the bottom line, it is unclear whether cultivated meat will have positive or negative effects on the environment. We have yet to see.
JingJing Liu, a meat researcher officer at the Republic of Ireland's Agriculture and Food Development Authority, has found, through surveying people around the world, that around half of those surveyed said they’d try cultivated meat, given that it was more environmentally friendly compared to conventional livestock.

Your favourite proteins may begin to appear in grocery stores, as cultivated.

Your favourite proteins may begin to appear in grocery stores as cultivated.


Cultivated meat isn't the only step that has been taken towards radically changing our food system. For instance, Finless Foods cultures bluefin tuna cells.
Perhaps cultivated meat and seafood is the future of steakhouses, barbecues, and sushi.

Endnotes:

“Lab Grown Meat: How It Is Made and What Are the Pros and Cons.” Eufic, www.eufic.org/en/food-production/article/lab-grown-meat-how-it-is-made-and-what-are-the-pros-and-cons.

Fleming, Amy. “What Is Lab-grown Meat? How It's Made, Environmental Impact and More.” www.sciencefocus.com, June 2022, www.sciencefocus.com/science/what-is-lab-grown-meat-a-scientist-explains-the-taste-production-and-safety-of-artificial-foods.

Jackson, Graihagh. “Why Cultivated Meat Is Still so Hard to Find.” BBC Future, 6 June 2023, www.bbc.com/future/article/20230601-why-cultivated-meat-is-still-so-hard-to-find-in-restaurants.

Briggs, By Helen. “Artificial Meat: UK Scientists Growing ‘bacon’ in Labs.” BBC News, 19 Mar. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47611026.

“What Is Lab-Grown Meat, and How Is Cultured Meat Made?” The Humane League, thehumaneleague.org/article/lab-grown-meat. Accessed 1 July 2023.

Milman, Oliver. “US Declares Lab-grown Meat Safe to Eat in ‘Groundbreaking’ Move.” The Guardian, 18 Nov. 2022, www.theguardian.com/food/2022/nov/18/lab-grown-meat-safe-eat-fda-upside-foods.

Milman, Oliver. “Meat Accounts for Nearly 60% of All Greenhouse Gases From Food Production, Study Finds.” The Guardian, 14 Sept. 2021, www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/13/meat-greenhouses-gases-food-production-study.