I don’t usually hear about laboratories and think, “Yum!” but a lot of the food we eat finds its genesis in the lab. Now, scientists are hard at work trying to make chicken and turkey that’s grown from cell cultures without any animals having to be slaughtered. The product produced in a lab rather than a farm is often referred to as “clean meat.” And while it sounds like something out of science fiction, I can think of more than a few vegetarian and vegan friends who would be ecstatic to learn they could enjoy their old favorite foods without any animals being harmed.
According to an article on Motherboard, companies like New Harvest, Hampton Creek and even poultry giant Tyson Foods are already clamoring to collaborate with poultry scientists who are working on creating “clean meat.”
Paul Mozdziak, a poultry science professor at North Carolina State University, has been studying the creation of lab-grown meat for decades, long before he thought of it as something people would actually be interested in eating. Now, he says, the prospect of buying poultry at the store that was grown from cell cultures instead of on a farm is becoming more and more of a reality.
Marie Gibbons, a physiology graduate student working with Mozdziak, even successfully developed a cultured turkey nugget in 2016. The starter cells from that culture can be used to grow turkey nuggets in just two weeks, though for now, it’ll cost you — she sold the initial nugget for $19,000. That’s definitely pricier than a Tofurkey, but it could be a step in the right direction for people who don’t want to go vegetarian because they think they’d miss the taste of their favorite foods too much or are scared of jiggling blocks of tofu and mystery vegan meats in the frozen aisle.
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Cultured meat is still a work in progress, but with so many big companies taking an interest, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we’re seeing lab-grown chicken breast at the grocery store. In the meantime, I’ll be over here happily enjoying my soy chicken and dreaming of the day I can taste the real thing again guilt-free.