“Soggy Pork”: The Other White Meat
“Fifty years hence, we shall 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.” Winston Churchill made that prediction in 1932 and now, some 78 years later, it’s beginning to come true. Scientists in Holland have taken muscle cells from a living pig and by bathing them in an animal fetus “broth,” cultured them into a “soggy form of pork” in the lab.
“What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue,” researcher Mark Post told the Sunday Times. “We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there.” If Post and his colleagues are able to do that, we may end up with an environmentally friendly meat that reduces the impact of food production. Said Post, “You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals.”
Vladimir Mironov, a tissue engineer at the Medical University of South Carolina, envisions a day when we use countertop bioreactors to make our meat–steaks and chops with nutritional profiles that we have predetermined. “It would look like a coffee maker,” Mironov said back in 2007. “This is my dream.”
Sadly for Mironov, he wasn’t able to find funding. NASA turned down his request for a grant, and the lone group that did express interest in his work, taking the you-are-what-you-eat philosophy full circle, was interested in meat cultured from its members’ own cells. Mironov declined to identify that particular…diners’ club, but said, “I don’t want to participate in high-tech human cannibalism.”