The laboratory had never looked so posh. Dr. Andrews hurried around, setting the table with gleaming cutlery and crystal. Under his breath, he hummed—to the tune of “Macho Man”—“Nobel, Nobel Prize. I’m going to win a Nobel Prize.”
An hour later, he was seated at the table with scientists and politicians from around the country. Waiters hired for the night brought in the meals, each featuring a huge steak that almost filled the plate. The gasps of surprise changed to exclamations of pleasure as they began to eat.
“I don’t know what the presentation you have for us is, Dr. Andrews,” one of them said, “but it’s going to be hard-pressed not to be upstaged by these steaks.”
“I’m glad you said that,” Dr. Andrews said with a smile, “because the presentation is the steaks. You see, I grew them myself.”
“I didn’t know you kept cows.”
“I don’t. I grew this meat right here in the lab.” Dr. Andrews stood up and a screen lowered behind him. “I have discovered a technique for growing pure muscle tissue quickly in controlled conditions.”
There were murmurs of surprise and a few of disgust. He caught the term ‘frankenmeat’.
“Is it safe?” someone asked.
“It’s completely unaltered beef,” he said. “The genetic structure is exact. Plus, I can grow just the meat and not the fat or bones, so it is better quality, healthier, and less expensive.
“This product is superior in every way,” he continued quickly. “If we were to only eat this type of meat, there would be no need for unhygienic feed lots: did you know that the majority of all antibiotics in the United States are fed to cows? Animal rights activists would be happier, plus it would be better on the environment: cows produce a ton of methane and a lot of water and resources are used to grow corn to feed cows for beef. This meat is also much cheaper: imagine buying the steaks you just ate at the store for 50 cents a pound.”
One of the politicians spoke up. “It sounds almost perfect. The thing is, it was grown in a lab. Who exactly do you expect to eat this?”
This is speculative fiction, but I’m curious: would you buy meat grown in a lab?
April 19th, 2013 at 7:58 pm
Honestly, if there were no genetic mutations (specifically in my body from the meat). But some mutations might be acceptable. On the other hand, I would try it once to see if it resembled the taste of my good O’ fashioned T-bone stake.
April 21st, 2013 at 6:34 pm
Assume there are no mutations at all and it tastes wonderfully, but there is no bone or fat on it, just pure meat. Not sure if I’d eat it or not. Probably.
April 19th, 2013 at 8:05 pm
I wouldn’t buy it 😦
April 21st, 2013 at 6:56 pm
I don’t blame you. I think a lot of people would feel the same.
April 19th, 2013 at 8:11 pm
I know someone who is doing an essay on this right now. Researchers have already managed to produce a burger, and will probably refine their technique over time to make it cost effective. I would love to try lab grown meat.
April 21st, 2013 at 6:56 pm
Honestly, I think I would try it. A lot of our food goes through pretty unsightly processes so I think I could get used to it.
April 22nd, 2013 at 4:08 am
As someone studying Food Science, I guess I see food processing in a very different way. Some food processing is very clever and exciting. It’s actually disturbing how some consumers are so misled by companies trying to charge them over the odds for “natural products”
It’s something like 3 in 5 mothers think that if something is labelled “natural” it’s a healthy snack for their child. Well, the bags of gummy worms sold by the Natural Confectionery Company contain more sugar gram for gram than black treacle. (This is what it said in the BBC article. When I did a presentation on this, I had to use jelly babies as the example instead, which still had massive labels on claiming how “natural” they were.)
When it comes to climate change, our greatest problem will be food security. It already a HUGE problem for lots of people, and it is even becoming a problem in western societies. The rising cost of meat production is probably one of the factors that led to the horse meat scandal in Europe, and things will only get worse.
But now I have typed out too much, haha. I could go on and on about this subject, but I won’t bore you.
April 22nd, 2013 at 3:34 pm
Thanks for the comments. 🙂 It’s too bad how people get tricked, such as by thinking that “natural” somehow means “healthy”. After all, mercury is natural and I don’t want that in my food.
April 19th, 2013 at 8:23 pm
honestly if it is certified as safe I may try it, after all it will mean eating meat without slaughtering an animal.
loved the idea!
April 21st, 2013 at 7:38 pm
That would be an interesting dilemma for Hindus. By the way, nice blog. I’m a follower now. 🙂
April 22nd, 2013 at 7:03 pm
what? eating laboratory made meat? No way! Hindus are most adjusting when it comes to religious beliefs! they don’t mind throwing away beliefs they don’t think is made for them. a lot of my friends eat beef, I don’t, but I don’t blame them or hate them for eating 🙂
April 22nd, 2013 at 7:04 pm
That’s interesting. I guess each person has to decide for themselves.
April 19th, 2013 at 9:48 pm
I think I would like to try it. I think I would like to see other people eat it first. Although, how can you guarantee it’s beef? Over here at the moment, we are having issues with horse meat in the meats. What’s to stop it being cloned from humans?
April 21st, 2013 at 6:58 pm
There would have to be a lot of oversight, as always. This whole story is hypothetical, so we’re assuming that it’s possible to guarantee it’s really beef, horse or rat meat.
April 19th, 2013 at 10:07 pm
What makes us think we are not already eating “grown” meat?
April 21st, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Good point. We are forced to have a lot of faith that the things we consume are what they’re represented to be.
April 19th, 2013 at 10:54 pm
The day is not far off when all our foods will be grown in labs.
Enjoyed the read specially the steak treat to all big wigs. 🙂
April 21st, 2013 at 7:01 pm
Thanks. It’s not an inconceivable eventuality in today’s world. I’m still up in the air whether I think it’s a good thing or not.
April 20th, 2013 at 12:05 am
I’m not entirely sure… I’m torn between wanting to know my meat came “naturally” and the sheer awesomeness of having affordable quality meat with no risk to the animals. I think there’d be no more vegetarians!
April 20th, 2013 at 12:25 am
Scientists are in a position to do funny things; it all depends on how the production of frankenmeat will be governed. It could very well swing out of situation, y’know.
April 21st, 2013 at 7:02 pm
With proper supervision and oversight, I think it could be a great thing; without it, it could be a nightmare.
April 20th, 2013 at 12:42 am
Hey, if it tastes the same as normal meat and doesn’t have any weird health side effects, I would totally eat it. I’m all for saving the moo-cows.
April 21st, 2013 at 7:04 pm
yeah, poor cows. We mistreat all kinds of animals for our food.
April 20th, 2013 at 12:42 am
Sure why not? With all the stuff we eat now, from things that come mashed up in cans to microwavable dinners, that doesn’t seem so bad.
April 21st, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Objectively, it’s not that much of a stretch. After all, look at hot dogs. I think once people got used to the idea, they’d accept it.
April 20th, 2013 at 5:00 am
Ha Ha. I don’t think so. I would be afraid it would mutate into something else, something big, ugly and monstrous that might eat me. 🙂
April 21st, 2013 at 7:05 pm
Sounds like another idea for a story. 🙂
April 22nd, 2013 at 12:01 am
And I know you could write that one, too. 🙂 Way back last year when I just started doing Friday Fictioneers stories I wrote one from a prompt of Madison Woods (when she had it) that showed a picture of a decaying grape vine that looked horrible. I had it growing and mutating into something that spread, invading town and everywhere, kind of like a bizarre science fiction story. It was certainly effective for the prompt.
April 22nd, 2013 at 12:03 am
I’ll have to find that story of yours and read it. Sounds interesting. 🙂
April 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 am
OK. I can’t remember the title I gave it. It is back in that archives maybe around May, June or July. I had a young mother and her son and his dog in the story. The dog discovers the decaying vine, and is the first one to get sick.
April 22nd, 2013 at 12:20 am
David, I just looked back into my FF story archives. That story I told you about is entitled, The Orchard, posted on Aug. 3rd. Skippy was the dog that found the rotting vine.
April 20th, 2013 at 8:05 am
I don’t think I’ll eat it if I know that it grow in a lab,
April 21st, 2013 at 7:06 pm
It sure doesn’t sound very appetizing.
April 20th, 2013 at 6:11 pm
I hope my comment from my latest blog is sleeping in your remarks to be approved!
April 21st, 2013 at 7:39 pm
I just got back from a 2-day camping trip, so sorry it took me a while to get back to you. I found your comment in my spam box and restored it to its right place. 🙂
April 21st, 2013 at 9:02 pm
If there’s no fat on it, it won’t taste good. Therefore, no.
I GOTS TO HAVE MY SATURATED FAT!
May 20th, 2013 at 2:37 am
Well, I’m late to the conversation here, but this vegetarian says, Yes, I would eat lab-grown meat (allowing for all the above-state caveats re: oversight, etc.). ‘Cause then it’s really just a crop, right?
But I would agree with Miles Rost that you gotta keep the fat!
May 20th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
I guess it all comes down to why a person is a vegetarian, but if it doesn’t harm any animals, that’s a big plus. I think with anything like that, it would have to be proven without a shadow of a doubt that it was safe (of course, naturally grown meat isn’t all that safe a lot of times, with bacteria and other things in it.)