On Monday, August 5, a group of impartial taste testers in London got to sample the first burger grown in lab. The apparent consensus was that because the meat was grown without fat, it was lacking in flavor. The texture was apparently similar to that of a regular burger. But the point of the taste test wasn’t really about perfecting the burger’s flavors, it was more about raising awareness about, and finding additional funding for research into lab grown meat.
While experts in the field say that the technology that grew the sampled burger could be scaled up for large-scale production, the cost would be prohibitive. They estimate that it would take 10 years to advance the technology enough to be commercially viable. The current method is to simply extract stem cells from the muscles of cows and place them in a nutrient broth until they grow into muscle fibers. About 20,000 of the tiny fibers were mushed together with breadcrumbs, salt, and coloring to make the 5 ounce burger.
While it may seem like an unnecessary extravagance for a measly burger, could greatly improve the efficiency of water and land use, as well as cut down significantly on the emissions of methane and other greenhouse gasses. In addition, the meat can be grown without killing any animals, which makes animal rights groups like PETA happy about the advances.
However, the patty too 2 years and $325,000 to grow, so the technology still has a long way to go before you start seeing it in grocery stores.