Here in Wales, as a population we have topped the “unhealthy” charts for over 10 years, we are a nation of drinkers, smokers and junk food eaters – and that’s a fact.
People tend to want and demand cheap food, and now scientists may have come up with a solution.
I’m not sure how many of you heard this in the news a few weeks ago but a beef burger has been grown in a laboratory in the Netherlands by a team of scientists. The burger was then cooked by a British chef in London and tasted by several food critics in front of a live audience.
It’s quite exciting in some ways, a true reflection of just how far technology has come. The sun newspaper has labelled it ‘A historic step towards wiping out hunger’.
The burger cost £215,000 to make so it isn’t the answer to wiping out famine and hunger just yet!
But it certainly is something to take note of and could provide a solution for the future if the population continues to grow (57 million people a year net population growth, check out this cool site http://www.worldometers.info/. there is lots of interesting stuff on there).
The obvious questions to me though is “would you eat it?”
First let’s have a closer look before we make that decision.
So how did they do it?
It was made in a lab using stem cells taken from a dead cow. The cells were turned into strips of muscle which were combined together to form a burger. Stem cells are the bodies ‘master cells’, specialised tissue such as nerve and skin cells can develop from them.
It was made by a team of Dutch scientists who believe that one day it can help feed the world. (I have heard better solutions)
The demand for meat these days is massive so any help would be useful. Our population is continuing to increase which means more people want to eat meat, this means farmers need more energy, water and more land. This causes an increase in greenhouse gas emissions which harm our environment. (if you buy into that theory)
Prof Mark Post the scientist behind the burger claims that the demand for meat production is an unsustainable burden on the environment and global demand should double by 2050 so an alternative is needed.
So maybe this could be a long term solution?
That single burger cost £215,000 to make and the project was funded by a co founder of Google (he can afford it).
Are we just addressing the symptom rather than the cause? Maybe a better option would be to support more farmers to enable them to produce more meat in a more environmentally friendly and efficient way.
As I said the burger was served up to several ‘lucky’ food experts in London by a chef from Cornwall.
Comments on the burger included:
‘Close to meat, but not that juicy’
‘Tastes like a real burger’
‘There is quite some intense taste. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper’
‘The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat. There’s a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger.’
So on the whole fairly positive comments considering it was made in a lab from dead cow cells!
How does it compare to your average burger?
An independent study found that lab-grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land. All big positives to our environment.
As said above the burger was okay but unless they can master the taste then for the time being at least, it won’t compete with natural meat.
Is it too unnatural?
People may be squeemish when they think about the process to make it but when we think about all of the unnatural substances pumped into cheap processed foods it’s pretty comparable.
It is unnatural but when you compare it to some of the products that pack our shopping trolley then – IT’S JUST THE SAME – FOOD MADE IN A LAB.
Most food products have undergone testing and taste design by food scientists in labs. Not really that dissimilar really.
So to answer the question “would I eat it?”
It’s the same as any processed food, for me it’s not an option in the main part.
If I was starving and there was nothing else to eat? I would eat one (or maybe two) for sure!
Side note – I’m not a machine, I have my weaknesses. From time to time I STILL eat crap, I was brought up eating crap food (no offence mam ;-)) plus anyone who knows me, knows my Dad had an Ice Cream van, which me my brother and sister would help ourselves to the contents.
I would eat frozen meals, micro meals, anything with toast or bread, and anything I could prepare myself. It was about filling the gap and filling me up.
So from time to time I still have some of this stuff, I think they call it comfort food, only it doesn’t give me any comfort anymore, not like a nice steak, fried potatoes and a massive salad. I digress back to it…
Who knows what the future will hold.
There is a lot being done today to protect our environment and animal welfare so this sort of food production could go a long way to helping that.
The world we live in has a strange balance, 1.4 billion people are overweight and obese and then there are 1 billion people who are actually starving.
Potentially a better long term option for this would be to feed the overweight people to the hungry people ;-).
But seriously, something should be done to address this ridiculous situation.
There is a long way to go before we see it in Tesco, the product will need to be proven to be safe and nutritionally equivalent to other meat products (shouldn’t be hard compared to some of the cheap ‘meats’ on the market).
What do you think? Please let me know your thoughts on the whole situation below the article.
Or if you want to see how they grew the burger check out this link: