Lee Pitts: The theoretical burger
The cattle business has been my lunch ticket forever so you can imagine how horrified I was to read that Dutch scientists are working on making a lab-burger that, theoretically at least, could provide an alternative to beef. I read in a British paper that the first lab-burgers will cost 250 with what looked like an “L” in front of it. Never having lived in England, I figured the “L thingy” probably stood for cents and that the burgers would cost $2.50 each. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the “L thingy” stood for pounds and after you converted 250 pounds to dollars the total for the first Theoretical Burger would be $356,000 U.S. dollars!
I can just envision placing your order at the drive-up of your favorite fast-food joint: “Yes, I’d like one Theoretical Burger and hold the genetically-modified tomato.”
Then the cashier will say, “Your total will be $356,000 plus $28,480 in tax. Pay at the next window please. I put lots of ketchup in the bag because, believe me, you’re gonna need it.”
There are probably only a couple people in the world who could afford such an extravagance on a regular basis and the last I heard Warren Buffet already owns Dairy Queen, so he can probably get a real, great tasting burger for $356,000 less any time he wants one.
You just had to know that the whackos at PETA had something to do with the “pain free” lab-burger. It seems that in 2008 PETA offered a million bucks to the first scientist who produced a marketable lab-grown piece meat before 2012. Just think, if the scientists are successful in creating their Theoretical Burger they’ll be able to buy almost three of the burgers with the million dollars PETA gives them!
WARNING – gag alert! If you are reading this while you are eating please stop.
The scientists plan to make the fake meat out of pig stem cells and they’ll feed them serum from horse fetuses. They attach the stem cells to Velcro and after it grows 2.5 centimeters long and one centimeter wide they “harvest the meat.” I’m not too swift on the metric system either but I think that’s smaller than a single fast food French Fry.
I don’t know how successful lab-meat will be. We don’t know how many horse fetuses it takes to produce a pound of “meat,” or its average daily gain. Will fake-meat feedlots be built and will there be a futures market for it? All we know is that this is gonna kill a lot of horse fetuses.
I wonder how PETA members feel about that!
With apologies to hog farmers, you could say that lab-meat will be the “Other, Other White Meat,” because the burgers will be white to gray in color. That’s because it will contain no life-giving iron. The Theoretical Burger will also be more soggy than a pizza left in the trunk of your car for a week. (And smell like one too.) I just don’t get it, if a person wants to eat a burger that is soggy, white and tastes like library paste, they can already have a tofu burger. Why go to the trouble of inventing a lab-burger?
We also don’t know how the lab-meat will taste because prevailing regulations prohibit dining on any lab-tissue which has been fed animal products. (Sounds like a sensible rule to me.) The scientists also say that the process of growing “in vitro” meat could be applied to any animal. They say that in the future we could even be dining on endangered species such as the panda bear. Not that there has been any indication whatsoever, mind you, that consumers are clamoring for such a gastronomic delight.
As beef producers should we be concerned about this threat to our livelihood?
I have no idea, but let’s review, shall we? The Theoretical Burger will be soggy, white and gray, raised from stem cells and horse fetuses, and grown on Velcro. It will cost over a third of a million dollars. You may also have to wait a little longer than usual at the auction market cafe or a fast-food joint because if you place your order today for a Theoretical Burger, it won’t be ready for a year.
Did you want to super size that?
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