May 21, 2013
The Tissue Engineered $325,000 Burger
Still too expensive for mass consumption. But burgers grown in a vat seems like a question of when rather than if. The problem is that the vat needs all the support pieces that the rest of the cow now provides very cheaply. Those support pieces include an immune system to keep out lots of microorganisms.
I argued the really kinky twisted application for this technology over 10 years ago in my post Home Steak Incubator To Make Self-Cannibalism Possible. It opens up interesting obvious possibilities in romantic relationships as well.
Randall Parker, 2013 May 21 08:57 PM
I wonder if the meat genes could be added to a plant such that it generates tissue similar to muscles. Then the meat could be grown outside the lab, and would be as cheap as vegetables.
Coolball, that may well be where we get our "meat" from in the future. At the moment though it's easier to use insects as a low energy cost, low animal cruelty way of obtaining meat. Getting plants to produce high protien seeds or other structures is of course not a problem, but making these structures like meat may be difficult but should be possible. Real muscle cells are too metabolically active to be sustained by normal plants so we may not be able to take a short cut and get plants to grow actual muscle cells. Or maybe we could and grow them in a sugar solution to sustain them. Or we might just get modified or artificial bacteria to produce protien in a vat and process that until it resembles meat. Or maybe we'll keep eating animals and just breed ones that want to be eaten and are intelligent to tell you so as in the Douglas Adams novel, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
"Real muscle cells are too metabolically active to be sustained by normal plants so we may not be able to take a short cut"
I believe there are ways around the metabolic costs, cold blooded animals have similar tasting meat with lower metabolic needs, and it should also be possible for the tissue to be put in some form of hibernation mode after it's grown, like tardigrades which can completely suspend their metabolism.
The Soylent meal-replacement crowdfunding campaign is up, and just raised $250k in 2 days.
Replacing just breakfast and lunch with it, but still eating a full dinner might be a good start.
That might save people an hour every day, and substantially improve on their nutrition and energy levels.
They're planning to ship the first round of orders in August. $230 per month instead of food. (It might cost a fraction as much to mix the components yourself.)
The creator is a Y Combinator alumnus, so he probably has access to some of the best advisors in Silicon Valley.