Trial Balloon

Fake Steak

Posted at 6:00 AM on January 28, 2010 by Dale Connelly (35 Comments)
Filed under: Science

Scientists are trying to grow pork strips from stem cells - an attempt that may eventually bring protein to your plate by cutting out the middlepig.

Imagine someday sitting down to a pork chop that has never had a hoof attached to it! Dr. Larry Kyle of Genway already has. I asked him what he thought of the lab meat research underway, and this was his response:

None of this is new to me, but I commend anyone out there trying to do different, wild stuff with food. It is only through unsupervised experimental improvisation that I've been able to stumble across the things that I was after but didn't know I wanted!

Dr. Kyle small .jpg

Genway has been creating choice cuts in petri dishes for years and years as part of our Extinct Meats Selection! Thanks to a whim I had about harvesting blood from the stomachs of ancient mosquitos caught in amber, we have been able to duplicate parts of the vanished animals these bugs were biting when they met their demise.

That's how we developed Genway's Brontosaurus Butt! Mmmmm!
We also pioneered Pterodactyl Fingers and everyone's favorite - Jurassic Pork!
They all have the timeless, renegade flavor that hints of a swampy world populated by ruthless carnivores - the taste of wild adventure!

Of course, I can't honestly say if our T. Rex Rib Racks taste anything like the original, but that bit of confusion works to our advantage. We can simply claim that our Prehistoric Meats have the exact same vivid flavor of the originals. Anyone who might contradict us was long ago eaten by a relative of the meal he would be referring to when he criticized us.

That's why it's so brave for these other scientists to try to duplicate meats that their customers have already tasted in a more "natural" form. That's bold and risky, and while I would never try it myself, I applaud the attempt.

My advice - if anyone ever produces lab meat that has a satisfying taste, they should make sure they sign a contract securing all rights for the specific creature who provided the original stem cells. In the future, meat will be marketed by the given name of its source animal. Rather than pork chops, you'll buy Snowball Chops, Loin of Squealer or Ground Napoleon.

And since we won't have to kill them to chew their flanks, the animals whose stem cells we use to fill our plates will become true celebrities. You'll see them everywhere! What if there was one source chicken for all those KFC wings? That's the creature whose picture I'd want to see on the side of the bucket - not Colonel Sanders!

Dr. Kyle has a good point - if artificially created meat ever tastes the same as the original, the change we'll notice won't be on the plate, it will be in the marketing.

Would you ever try meat that had been grown in a laboratory?

Comments (35)

As a vegetarian I'm thinking that at least meat grown in a laboratory isn't really "meat", but since I'm sitting here w/ a grimace on my face after reading about Pterodactyl Fingers, I may pass anyway. Ick.

Posted by sherrilee | January 28, 2010 6:13 AM

Dr. Kyle, I feel I have seen you somewhere before, but can't quite figure out where.

There are just too many places for my little mind to go on this one, so I am abstaining for the day. I shall, however, watch your progress with interest.

As an ambivelent non-vegan, I will recommend Stephen Budiansky's Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication.

Stay warm, Heartlanders!

Posted by catherine | January 28, 2010 6:17 AM

I have been vegetarian for a long time but have been giving recent consideration to eating grass fed beef for its nutritional value. I guess my trying the laboratory "raised" meat would depend on the source of the meat as well as the conditions under which the meat was grown. Likely I wouldn't eat it. I'm with sherrilee... Ick.

Posted by elinor | January 28, 2010 6:23 AM

Jurassic Pork - ha, ha, Dale! i mean, if it weren't true i'd laugh harder. and if any of this actually helped feed hungry people, i wouldn't laugh at all but would watch with interest.
but the scary thing is they may start copyrighting those genes as Monsanto did with rape seed. and it would probably only serve to make rich people richer and those who were raising their own, real pigs would become criminals.
so no. i wouldn't eat it. i gave up my favorite cucmber - Amira - because Monsanto bought the seed supplier.
on occasion, i'll eat honestly raised animals, thank you :-) but no more Amira cukes for me. i get my seeds from FedCo - they have vowed no GM
cold up here - how's by you?
good morning, All

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | January 28, 2010 6:27 AM

Is that what Perkins means by "Mammouth Muffins?"

Posted by Cly de Carne in Pork Country | January 28, 2010 6:46 AM

Try lab meat? Oh sure, what the heck. There's bound to be a receptacle to spit it out in if it's icky.

Wow. I just have to say, "Obama is still the man!" When he speaks, I'm captivated. And even a little hopeful. Call me naive - I've been called worse. Dale, do you have that Follow Me, I'm the Pied Piper song around? You follow the connection, right?

Posted by Donna | January 28, 2010 6:56 AM


"Follow me, I'm the Pied Piper"?
There's an old Michael Cooney song called "Hamelin" which tells the Pied Piper story. I'm hot sure if I can find that one - was it on a cassette?
At any rate, I'm not sure as an Obama supporter, you'd want the president compared to the P.P. Didn't he skip town with all the children in tow?

Posted by Dale Connelly | January 28, 2010 7:13 AM

Greetings! While it may sound tempting and Dr. Kyle is always so intriguing, I am going to pass. (This is when I miss Jim Ed -- I can't hear the voice the way he does it, punctuated by thunder and maniacal laughter)

My favorite line in "Jurassic Park (Pork!)" from Jeff Goldblum's character; "Just because we can do a thing, doesn't mean we should." This is true on so many levels. Attempting to duplicate, imitate, clone or interfere with Nature almost always has disastrous consequences -- the question is whether it happens sooner or later. I prefer getting heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. I don't plant a whole lot, but nothing compares to heirloom tomatoes!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 7:15 AM

I googled and it says Del Shannon sang it, from the 60's I think. OK - maybe it's not the best choice. Please choose one for me if you have a chance. Thanks!

Posted by Donna | January 28, 2010 7:22 AM

oh yeah, Dale - you were a mere child, but i remember this one very well. we all wanted to know "where its at." good choice, Donna (if this is the one you were thinking of). but i have hesitation - i'm always leary (ha,ha - Leary - get it?) of anyone who says "trust me." and wants to lead me to where it's at.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | January 28, 2010 7:33 AM

I can't say as I could eat meat grown in a lab. I haven't yet reached the point where I need to meet the live critter that will become my dinner, but it is nice to meet the farmer who cared for that critter before it was plucked, sliced, and/or ground for my ease of cooking that critter into a tasty meal. Lab grown meat might make a vegetarian out of me (couldn't go vegan, though - I'd miss cheese too much).

Posted by Anna | January 28, 2010 7:39 AM

Good Morning All,

You may or may not know that most of us are eating food manufacture with ingredients derived from geneticly engineered corn and soybeans. Geneticly engineered crops are not allowed in certified organic food production and can't be sold in Europe.

On the other hand, we don't want to limit the creativity of Dr. Kyle, do we? I can't remember all the fun foods he has come up with, but they certainly were intertaining. Also, the fake meat people might be able to come up with a product that would take care of the needs of canlbals.

Posted by jim | January 28, 2010 7:43 AM

Just got to thinking about how my ability to buy meat raised by local farmers who treat their animals relatively well is such a luxury. I fear lab grown meat would really turn meat from a live animal a true luxury that only folks like the execs at Monsanto can afford (though it could help feed those who aren't getting much to eat now).

Posted by Anna | January 28, 2010 7:49 AM

Lost in the Freezer Section

Out of the petri dish soon will come creeping
Future foods that keep me from sleeping.
First the farmer did the growing AND selling
But all were afraid we would be salmonelling.
So we cut it in safe-looking pieces
And stocked it in coolers next to the chieces.
We plastically wrap it in Styrofoam boats
And make sure the flesh is never from goats.
Beneath it we hide puffy flat napkins
I wonder if they are ever called tampkins.
We inject numbered dyes to make it look red
To hide the fact that it really is dead.

But who knows where all this will go
When profits lagging the balance sheet shows.
Little lab mice have not been seen lately;
Perhaps now pretty good they look plately.
Jimmy Dean sausage—what is in that?
Human flesh has lots of rich fat.
The swamps will give us much to digest.
Such things with green sauce taste best.
Lemmings no longer to they sea they will run.
They do fit nicely in a sesame seed bun.
The lowly little turnip once saved Europe.
For generations you could hear them all burrup.
But as a food in the garden it was grown
By people whose genes had yet to be blown.

Funny chemicals artificial and eternal
Are in all our guts and found in the urinal.
When they dig us all up in centuries to come,
With Dr. Kyle’s green glow we will hum.
But we need not really worry or fret.
Profits will be made, on that you can bet:
In food distribution and medical treatment
And in lawsuits, all will be sweetment.

Posted by Annonymous in Mankato | January 28, 2010 7:54 AM

very cool, Cl... oops, i mean anonymous
did you just do that this morning? i'm amazed.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | January 28, 2010 8:07 AM

Most excellent poem, Cly -- oops, I mean Anonymous. And every bit of it true, same as what Jim said in his post. Europeans are smarter than Americans in food production and medical treatments. They're not quite as capitalistic as we are.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 8:07 AM

Barb and Joanne--are your personalities merging mysteriously throgh the ethernet?

As a fellow Mankatoan, I woder who that guy is. I would but him aat.

Posted by Clyde in Mankato | January 28, 2010 8:12 AM

Clyde - you would but him? so not only have Joanne and i merged, but you have become a goat??

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | January 28, 2010 8:19 AM

Off topic but after reaching back in the oldies file with Pied Piper (good one Donna & Dale), I wonder if you have a copy of We Five doing Ian & Sylvia’s You Were on My Mind?
Jill Riley played it on the Current in her random vinyl segment the other morning and I had forgotten what a great song it is.

And I did not know it was an Ian & Sylvia song……learn something new.

Did anyone else lose RH internet connection about 20 min ago???
Great poem whoever you are in Mankato!!!

Posted by Kate from Eden Prairie | January 28, 2010 8:27 AM

Uh-oh -- those Space Goats are taking over the blog. Clyde is butting folks, Barb channels her goats deepest yearnings and now we're merging personalities, too! Baaa-arb .... help me ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 8:30 AM

Kate - yes, I lost my internet stream as well.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 8:32 AM

Hi, Kate. Yes I did too. MPR or RH was offline for about 10 minutes. Something learned this week is that it is better to listen to RH through Windows media player. Stream is not lost very often and almost always comes back by itself.

I meant to say I WOULD BUY HIM A HAT. You know I didn't write the poem. There are more typos in that one line than in all of the poem. Sheeeesh. Just shoot me!!

Posted by Clyde Unafraid like some others | January 28, 2010 8:33 AM

Jim beat me to the punch. I was going to say in response to Dale's question, "Who says we're not already?"

Clyde - Much like 'chicken nuggets,' there is only one part of the mammoth that we know of that would probably qualify as the 'muffin' part. And I'm relatively certain that, of all the places to put it, my mouth should not be one of them.

Joanne - Don't you know that it's our right and our duty to force Nature to be subservient to our all-encompassing and self-imposed eminently-domained will? Nature must be conquered! Break the planet? Hah! There's nothing we can't fix. Bwah-hah-hah-hah, etc, etc, etc...

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | January 28, 2010 8:40 AM

Thank You for We Five Dale......
It’s amazing how after not hearing a song for many years the lyrics stay with you. My memory is lacking on many day to day things but I sang almost the whole song for Bill the other day after hearing it.

Posted by Kate from Eden Prairie | January 28, 2010 8:45 AM

TGITH--have you never hear of Rocky Mountain oysters?
Last night my wife was watching House Hunters International (you may ask if I was not watching how do I know this?) A rich American couple were shopping for a $750,000 summer home in Costa Rica. Costa Rica requires a 200 foot strip of jungle between houses and the beach as a wildlife preserve. The man was beside himself that he could not have his home on the beach. “I got da’ money, give me what I want. I’m a rich American!!!”

Posted by Clyde in Prosey in Mankato | January 28, 2010 8:48 AM

Hey TGiTHat -- I am but worm sweat in your presence and bow to your omniscient authority.

Posted by Joanne Fully Herself in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 8:54 AM

I imagine the pigs are feeling conflicted about this. On one hand they won't need to take that last fateful truck ride to the Hormel plant, but on the other hand, they become somewhat irrelevant.

Posted by Pesky | January 28, 2010 8:57 AM

Well, enough play time -- I really do have ~things~ to do. Some type of well-compensated work would be nice ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 9:03 AM

Clyde - I have indeed. I rest my case. However, my wife and I have been in places of the world where cuisine is startlingly different from what we consider 'the norm.' Although my wife insists that yak butter tea is some kind of ritual torture.

Joanne - Our fellow corporate citizens and neighbors will be very glad to hear that.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | January 28, 2010 9:06 AM

Clyde - no violence, just fun. no shooting.
Joanne - worm sweat - very funny
Everyone - stay warm

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | January 28, 2010 9:07 AM

Interesting comments...
Last night on 'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson' he had a guest (I don't know who he was-- doesn't really matter) but they got on the topic of vegetarian vs. carnivore and the guest was trying to prove-- tongue in cheek-- that if we were all herbivores there would be no war because we wouldn't know what killing was like. And the joke became, 'So you'd just wait for your enemy to die of old age?'
I eat meat and I'm happy with that. But I also grew up on a farm and still run a farm and have that whole 'circle of life' thing down pretty well.
We are careful about where our meat comes from if it's not our own. Grass = good for cattle and chickens alike. Don't have hogs...
We did buy stock in Archer Daniels Midland cause I figured if they're going to screw me one way I'll get it back the other way then.

Oops; kind of brash statements for this Norwegian Minnesota boy!
I'll be quiet now...

Posted by Ben in Rochester | January 28, 2010 9:24 AM

Speaking of what chemicals do to our bodies.
Some of you women will love this; my wife is certainly having fun with it and I cannot blame her. Last week and weekend I was exchanging some posts on here with folks re my struggles with pain drugs. I had switched drugs last week and got hung up in side-effects. The new drug I noticed listed hot flashes as a side effect. My mind dismissed that as applicable only to women. Two nights ago I woke up at 4 with the blankets and sheets soaked from my sweat. We have replaced them in the night a few times for my wife from hot flashes. So all of her cheap shots at me the last couple of days were well earned. You too are welcome to join her.

Posted by Clyde Warm in Mankato | January 28, 2010 9:26 AM

Cly de Warm - we won't pile it on. Just the fact that a man has to experience hot flashes is enough. I've been fortunate -- my menopause is fairly symptom-free -- well, except maybe that emotional roller coaster I had at first. Poor Jim (hubby) ...

TGiTHat - just to clarify; I meant I would like to HAVE highly-compensated work -- heck, I'd take mediocre-compensated work right now. My ~things~ to do revolve around errands, shopping, appointments, and just maybe, cleaning house.

Side Note: Worm sweat in my family is the lowliest form of slime life on planet. So, siblings who don't make it to family events are de facto Worm Sweat.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | January 28, 2010 1:52 PM

Enjoyed your thoughts, Ben and Pesky! Catherine, thanks for the book suggestion. I'll join those of you who think they might steer away from Dr. Kyle's lovely specimen. (It would be fun to have "someone" create even a partial list of some of the things Dr. Kyle invented in the past!)

..and to "Cl... oops, i mean anonymous" in Mankato: you are giving Margaret Hasking Durber (remember, poet laureate of Lake Wobegon?) a run for her money -- with Europe/burup, eternal/urinal... right up her alley. You must have fun writing these, whoever you are.

Dale, now what you've mentioned Hamelin by Michael Cooney, it's become an earworm... could you please play it soon if it's still in the collection??

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale, with computer now behaving | January 28, 2010 8:02 PM

This is late coming, but I know my TB friends won't care. The Crispian St. Peter's Pied Piper song was the one I had in mind this morning. So much for the googling that said it was by Del Shannon. Why would google fib about that?? Great song though. Enjoyed "You Were On My MInd" as well. Pretty neat how Dale admitted it was his first time hearing it. Kind of levels the playing field for the thousands of new tunes I've heard through him. I believe that's an example of irony, is it not Clyde? I really love irony so if it isn't, would you tell me it is anyway?

Glad you're back Barbara!

Posted by Donna | January 28, 2010 8:25 PM

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