For a decade, Dr. Vladimir Mironov of the Medical University of South Carolina has been trying to grow meat in a lab. With an eerie mad-scientist tone, he discribes what he calls “Whole Organ Printing,” through a process called rapid prototyping. It seems he can crank out a working organ, but what matters to me is how it tastes. This organ Biofabrication, as it’s called, is the first step to growing KFC in a Petri dish. He pictures one day meat will be grown in huge, football field-sized laboratories, however his organs on work in theory. None have ever been put into a living being… yet!

            Speculation aside, what would become of us if Mironov succeeds in creating a convincing fake meat product? Granted, this is a very long-term goal for the Mironov-headed group. To introduce a product like this “costs $1 billion” says Mironov, not an economics expert but fairly well informed. The economic makeup of South Carolina would certainly change, as meat factories would start popping up like… (well, I can’t think of an appropriate end to that simile, but some of my ideas involved crude phallic references and high school promenades). Granted, the meat industry in general is a large contributor to global warming, so perhaps this would be for the best! The stubborn gastronome (such as myself) is unwilling, or at least skeptical, to accept a Petri dish Porterhouse into their hearts and stomachs. Think of it: with a homogenized labmeat, we would have no bones from which to derive stock, no gristle to give to the family dog after dinner, no delicious marrow to spread on a toasted baguette slice, and most of all, no difference between one chuck of science and the next! Part of what makes food and the food industry so successful and dynamic is the subtle differences between different animals, and the products thereof. I certainly wouldn’t pay $40 for a steak if I knew I could get the same meat in a McDouble for 99¢.

Most people seemed content eating Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” for years before a lawsuit emerged claiming that the sinister cinnabar sludge was only allegedly 36% beef. How little do most people really think about the earthly origins of their food? Comfort Zones aside, does it not bother anyone else that the meat aisle in any given grocery store doesn’t make so much as a nod to the fact that the cellophane-wrapped hunks of protein were once part of a living creature? Even butcher shops are sterilized! It’s hard to find a primal cut in Boston, let alone one on display! Would people be more or less inclined to eat meat if there were more obvious connectivity between their Big Mac and Bessie who birthed it? I, being particularly food-obsessed, like to know where my food comes from, and what’s in it, and what it’ll do to me.

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