Food Engineering: Growing Leather and Meat
Last night I was at yoga and the instructor was talking about how to live in a 40-day Sadana (a personal search) and they were saying about giving up meat for that time as well. That seems crazy to me and I was thinking what if we manufactured meat – that would be vegetarian, right?
This idea isn’t actually that crazy these days.
Andras Forgacs is an Entrepreneur and venture investor in technology and life science, and he co-founded Modern Meadow in 2011. The company has even attracted investors like Peter Thiel as well so it must be onto something.
Previously, Forgacs also co-founded Organovo, a leader in tissue engineering which pioneered the use of 3D bio-printing to create human tissues for a range of medical applications.Time Magazine named Organovo’s bio-printer as one of the top inventions of 2010 by and the company was recognized by MIT Technology Review on its TR50 list of most innovative companies for 2012. So, after several requests he started to think about how this process could be used for non-human replicated meat items.
Modern Meadow claims that by carefully layering mixtures of cells of different types in a specific structure, in-vitro meat production becomes feasible. It’s set a short-term goal of printing a sliver of meat around two centimetres by one centimetre, and less than half a millimetre thick, which is edible. But, once that is available then it will be hard to gain acceptance:
The consumer acceptance of such products may not be without challenges. We expect it will first appeal to culinary early-adopter consumers and the segment of the vegetarian community that rejects meat for ethical reasons. With reduction in price, it can reach the masses with religious restrictions on meat consumption (people restricted to Hindu, Kosher, Halal diets) and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production.
Printing meat and leather seems practical and useful. Printing hummus or peanut butter infused chocolates seems less so. Will bakers be obsolete? Will world famous chefs and gastronauts, like Heston Blumenthal and Feren Adria, start to innovate using these developments? I love the process of making meals. I love choosing produce. What if we choose more ethical ways of sourcing meat that removes the need for raising livestock? Could this be the end of farms as we know them? We look forward to finding out more.
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.