You are what you eat; a quite common message in the midst of our self-growth society. We have to eat well to become the best version of ourselves - more productive, healthier and more social. A collaboration between Andrew Pelling, Orkan Telhan and Grace Knight, taking self-growth quite literally and asks what happens when you eat what you are? They present a potential future of cultivated meat—the ouroborus steak—that is, meat grown from your own cells within your own home.
Commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Ouroboros Steak is a type of lab-grown meat a response to the industrial food production processes. Yet, eliminating meat from our diets is difficult as it holds a strong cultural and emotional resonance. Food is most likely the only universal thing that brings everyone together no matter the culture. Simultaneously, the ethical conditions in the food chains have gained more consciousness and importance at the dinner table. We want to know where food comes from, how it was raised, and if it was produced ethically correct and consensually. Growing yourself provides the answers to all that. It is an animal friendly, human only and transparent manner of cultivating consensually -from our cells.
It provides the nutrients for growing healthy cells, mushroom-derived scaffolds ensure the texture for just the right mouthfeel, and all the required kitchen consumable, tools and supplies to nurture your creations. The question arises why you would turn the kitchen into a tissue engineering lab? Why not use animals’ cells for growing meat in an official lab? Lab-grown meat is cultivated in a serum that still requires the killing for the blood. However, the human cells are able to grow in a serum that is an unused by-product of the blood-bank. Beside the engineering perspective, it takes an important stance on consensual production processes. Then no matter how pain-free the production process, ethically speaking we are still not able to receive consent from the animals.
The Ouroboros Steak, named after the snake eating its own tail, was born at the intersection of biology, technology and culture. It brings to question our nutrition, resource, consumption and joy of food of tomorrow. It unfolds new meanings in the way we, we farm, grow, feed and eat. What will the future of food look like? It addresses how the tastes and taboos might change. Additionally, growing our cells might provide an additional incentive to living a healthy lifestyle and paying attention to what we feed our bodies.
The Ouroboros Steak is a deliberately provocative product –perhaps the closest thing we have to cloning today. It raises critical questions about a sustainable food industry and our individual ethical responsibility in the global food chain. With OuroChef, this notion of ‘homemade-food’ is no longer what it used to be.