I'm not talking Tofurky. Right now we have the technology to develop "in-vitro" or "synthetic" meat from cultured animal cells. Supposedly this cultured meat would taste very close to conventional meat.
Some environmentalists like the idea because synthetic meat has a much lower environmental impact than conventional meat. The conventional meat industry generates 6 to 9 percent of greenhouse gas in the US. Also, some animal rights activists like the idea that no animals are held captive and killed for synthetic meat.
Synthetic meat is still way too expensive to put on the market quite yet. But it already has its critics.
According to Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel:
"The problems with cruelty to animals are born of that gap [between producer and consumer]. I see [test tube flesh] as a solution that just increases that gap .... This is a technology that's just going to give more to companies and create a larger distance between us."
In other words, if you're into the farm-to-plate ethic, this is pushing us further away from that ideal.
Here's what I wonder: What would it taste like? Meat flavor actually varies a great deal depending on the animal breed, what it eats, where it's raised, even how it's slaughtered. How much artificial flavoring would you have to add to synthetic meat to make it taste good enough to eat?
What do you think? Is synthetic meat the next brilliant idea in food or a culinary nightmare?
Image via Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com/Flickr