Forget homegrown burgers, one scientist has delivered a taste test of a lab-grown hamburger patty.
Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands created the laboratory meat after years of research and a $330,000 donation from Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and entrepreneur. And on Monday a burger taste test took place with Chicago-based author and food writer Josh Schonwalk and Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler on Monday.
Testers said that overall the burger was edible, but descriptions of the taste and texture indicated they were left wanting. Food writer Schonwalk summed it up thus to NBC News:
“I would say it is somewhere on the spectrum between a Boca Burger [veggie/soy burger] and McDonald’s. The absence of fat makes a big difference. It has the texture, which I was not expecting. It was like an animal-protein cake.”
Despite a mediocre taste test, this event could eventually have a big impact on conventional meat production. The Food and Agriculture Organization predicts global meat consumption will double by 2050 as more people in developing countries can afford it. The demand for meat impacts not only animals, but also takes a toll on the environment. A study by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days. This being the case, Post’s burger has some advocates excited.
PETA, the animal rights organization has already voiced its support for the lab-meat initiative. “Instead of the millions and billions (of animals) being slaughtered now, we could just clone a few cells to make burgers or chops,” said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president and co-founder, in a statement.
Post said his method would require only a stem cell contribution from animals, which could then be used to create 20,000 tons of cultured beef.