After leaving our stomachs growling for two whole years, Professor Mark Post has announced that the world's first in vitro hamburger is finally here. The burger, grown from 3,000 rice-sized strips of lab-grown muscle tissue, will be cooked and consumed before a London audience this Monday. The 150 gram burger cost a whopping €300,000, making it far and away the most expensive hamburger ever produced. We don't envy the chef in charge of grilling it.
As we've discussed before on the blog, in vitro meat holds the potential of becoming a humane, low-emission, energy-efficient solution to the problem of raising and slaughtering whole animals. In addition to the standard burgers and sausages, cultured tissue also opens up a wonderful and bewildering space of new, futuristic foods and food rituals. One of the ongoing projects at the Next Nature Lab is the design of speculative in vitro meat products, including "magic" meatballs, knitted meat and countertop bioreactors.
Mark Post delivered a lecture about his research at the 2012 Next Nature Power Show, where he discussed the gross inefficiencies of the current system of meat production, and the promises of meat grown from cultured stem cells. We wish him the best of luck on Monday. Of course, we will attend the event and hopefully soon get a chance to taste the beef of the future.