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Author: Meat Grown in a Lab is Safer & Better For The Environment

Fish croquettes that were grown in a lab, not in a fish. Likely the most expensive fish dish ever consumed.
Finless Foods
Fish croquettes that were grown in a lab, not in a fish. Likely the most expensive fish dish ever consumed.

Soon, you may be able to eat hamburger that was grown in a Petri dish rather than on a cow.

In his book, Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, author Paul Shapiro details how start ups like Memphis Meats and Finless Foods are growing animal cells in the lab that are safe to eat.

“Clean meat is real meat that is grown from animal cells rather than animal slaughter,” Shapiro told Living Lab Radio.

The process is done by taking a cell from an animal and putting it inside a cultivator that tricks it into growing as if it is still inside the animal. Soon, the cells grow into muscle tissue that can be eaten.

“I have now eaten clean duck, beef, fish, chorizo, even foie gras, all grown without animals,” he said. “And they tasted good to me. They tasted just like meat.”

Shapiro acknowledged that as a vegan for more than 20 years, he may not be the best judge of what meat should taste like. But other people have also vouched for the taste of the experimental meat.

So far, the most successful offerings have been products that use ground meat—chicken nuggets, hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages, meatballs, fish sticks and crab cakes.

Besides avoiding the slaughter of animals, the technique was found by one Oxford University study to use 99 percent less land, more than 90 percent less water, and emit 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional animal farming.

The first hamburger produced using this method cost more than $300,000, but Shapiro said there is a well-trod path for new technologies to become cheaper.

“In the same way that the first iPhone cost over a billion dollars and now a lot of us are walking around with them in our pockets, you can see the trajectory that clean meat producers have to bring their [costs down].”

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Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.