Lab-Grown Burger Loses On Flavor, Wins On Sustainability

Test-tube burger uses 60 percent less energy and 98 percent less land than normal meat

We talked about the test-tube burger Mark Post of Maastricht University was working on earlier this year – but now that it’s been released, we know what it tastes like, as well as what texture and consistency to expect.

The 5-ounce burger, which cost more than 250,000 euros ($332,000) to produce, was developed with funding from Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Growing meat in labs could be an alternative to raising livestock – a practice which is currently responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 30 percent of the world’s ice-free land.

While the process is still exceptionally expensive, it’s a technology that can be transferred to other animals – so long as they have stem cells in their skeletal muscle – like fish, chicken, and lamb.

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Schonwald, the author of a book called “The Taste of Tomorrow,” said the burger had a cake-like quality because of the lack of fat content and falls somewhere between a Boca Veggie Burger and a McDonald’s burger.

Hanni Ruetzler, a food scientist and the other tasting volunteers, said the surface was crunchy and the inside was “very close to meat,” though lacking juiciness.

Post thinks that commercial production could begin in a decade or two, giving him more than enough time to take on the challenge of improving taste and texture by growing more fat cells in the meat.

It might seem like a lot of effort but the benefits speak for themselves, cultured meat production uses as much as 60 percent less energy, resulting in up to 95 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions and 98 percent lower land use compared with conventional production in Europe based on a study conducted by Oxford University and University of Amsterdam researchers that was funded by New Harvest.

So while it might not be a culinary delight just yet, with time and persistence, the test-tube burger could a great tasting way to use significantly fewer resources around the world.

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Images Via Bloomberg

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