A Lab-Grown Burger Might Sound Gross, But You're Probably Eating Grosser Stuff Already

This week, Chef Richard McGeown cooked the first ever lab-grown hamburger. The creation was taste-tested by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald in London.

After five years of research and production, scientist Mark Post considered the experiment a success, though there are some improvements to be made in the arena of ... well ... taste. But as food critic Ruetzler put it, "This is meat to me. It's really something to bite on and I think the look is quite similar."

So how does one go about growing meat?

It's actually not that difficult of a concept. A few muscle cells from a cow are harvested from a living cow and grown in a petri dish. With sufficient amounts of the right kinds of nutrients, the cells multiply, creating multiple strands of muscle. When 20,000 strands of muscle are made, they are combined to make a 140-gram burger. These burgers are noticeably without any fat, which makes them less tasty, but Post is now working on a way to incorporate fat cell into his work.


The goal of this work — funded in part by Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google — is to find a way to meet the food demands of the world's population while minimizing stress on the environment. In order for farmers to meet the growing demands, they would need to increase their usage of energy, land, and water. This increase in usage would substantially raise greenhouse emissions.

I know what you're thinking. Lab meat is kind of Frankenstein-like. At first glance, absolutely. But it's actually less manipulated than genetically modified foods, which you're likely already eating. Actually, some of the most commonly consumed genetically modified foods include tomatoes, soy beans, corn, canola, and rice. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Brooke Horton

Brooke is a scientist by training and writer by nature. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan who has performed research in neuroscience, cancer biology, and genomics. Her articles focus on the intersection of science with daily life. See more at www.BrookeNHorton.com

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