Building a Better Cowreactor’s Green Lantern blog takes a closer look at the reality of making beef in a lab. The article tells us some utterly fascinating details about how labmeat is made to taste more like real cow:

There has also been talk of adding polysaccharide beads to the bioreactors; as the temperature or acidity of the solution changes, these beads would expand or contract, thus providing the necessary workout for the nascent tissue. The beads would likely be made from the exoskeletons of arthropods and are completely nontoxic.

However, it throws cold water on the idea that you’ll be buying artificial wursts in your local Safeway next year:

Despite considerable hubbub over the technology in recent months, we’re still years—or, more likely, decades—away from affordable lab-grown meat. The current experiments are taking place in bioreactors that measure only a few hundred milliliters in volume, and the longest complete muscle tissues are just 2 centimeters long. Researchers are nowhere close to scaling up their production to market-ready levels, to say nothing of market-ready prices. A Dutch team’s lab-grown pork, for example, would cost around $45,000 per pound—assuming they could make an entire pound of the stuff.

But it’s good to dream about having my own portable beef-growing bioreactor in the basement.

2 Responses to “Building a Better Cowreactor”

  1. chris the meat pirate Says:

    they’re going to have to hire a marketing firm to sex up the whole usage of arthropod skeletons.

    i mean one, you’ve just lost any possible animal cruelty/vegetarian converts since it’s definitely still an animal product, and two, some self-(mis)described omnivores will probably express disgust: yes, lobsters and shrimp are arthropods, but so too are spiders, crickets and millepedes.


  2. chris the meat pirate Says:

    PS–i just noticed in the original article that “skeletons” are considered an unnecessary byproduct that would be bypassed by the use of bioreactors.

    is this team also working on a machine to make meat stock? without the skeletons you just kinda lose oh, just about every piece of cooking that includes broth or stock–which is to say a hell of a lot.

    they should be working on creating one of those star trek: TNG replicators. i’ve always wanted to be able to say “tea. earl grey. hot” to a little box in my wall, just so it could “make it so”…

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