May 28, 2008

If they could somehow grow meat without it having ever to have been an animal, would you eat it?

And would you be required to eat it?

Oh, I'm picturing it:
Skum-skimming wasn't hard to learn. You got up at dawn. You gulped a breakfast sliced not long ago from Chicken Little and washed it down with Coffiest. You put on your coveralls and took the cargo net up to your tier. In blazing noon from sunrise to sunset you walked your acres of shallow tanks crusted with algae. If you walked slowly, every thirty seconds or so you spotted a patch at maturity, bursting with yummy carbohydrates. You skimmed the patch with your skimmer and slung it down the well, where it would be baled, or processed into glucose to feed Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America. Every hour you could drink from your canteen and take a salt tablet. Every two hours you could take five minutes. At sunset you turned in your coveralls and went to dinner --- more slices from Chicken Little --- and then you were on your own. You could talk, you could read, you could go into trance before the dayroom hypnoteleset, you could shop, you could pick fights, you could drive yourself crazy thinking of what might have been, you could go to sleep....

Dinner was drab as usual; I couldn't face more than a bite or two of Chicken Little. Later I was hungry and there was the canteen where I got Crunchies on easy credit. The Crunchies kicked off withdrawal symptoms that could be quelled only by another two squirts of Popsie from the fountain. And Popsie kicked off withdrawal symptoms that could only be quelled by smoking Starr Cigarettes, which made you hungry for Crunchies. Had Fowler Schocken thought of it in these terms when he organized Starrzelius Verily, the first spherical trust? Popsie to Crunchies to Starrs to Popsie?

(Read the whole thing.)

22 comments:

rhhardin said...

It could be served in cafeterias.

former law student said...

Ann's so cool, she pedals a Cadilette.

Yachira said...

As Home Simpson so wisely said:

"If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat."

Bob said...

You're in a whimsical mood this morning.

MadisonMan said...

It would be great if the lab technicians could make the frankenmeat out of human waste products.

Was Charlton Heston really buried?

George said...

Welcome to Quorn.

Fungus meat.

Roger J. said...

Why am I thinking Soylent (insert color) here?

Joan said...

The Space Merchants is brilliant -- or at least I thought it was when I read it when I was in college. For social commentary, it doesn't get much better, although Bug Jack Baron is awesome as well.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No. Never. I agree with Homer Simpson.

I would shoot a deer first or buy a chicken or rabbit from one of the neighbors who raises them for market. This is why I don't buy pre processed meat* or other pre packaged products. Who knows what is in there!

*Well, except for Hebrew National Hot Dogs.

reader_iam said...

George: LOL! I have one of their Turk'y Roasts (yeah, their product names are annoying) in my freezer, along with a couple of other things from their product line. My husband and kid especially like that roast.** Contains egg and milk, though.

**As these things go, it's not bad. I prefer the real thing, myself.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm so looking forward to this. The trouble with real animals is that they're full of crap you don't want to eat, like bones and fat chunks and gristle and weird organs and crap. And those stupid little birds they serve in fancy restaurants, where you have to dissect the thing like you're back in high school biology class to get a mouthfull of meat, and if you miss one of the little bones you get to choke to death. Same damn thing with fish. Plant breeders developed seedless fruits and vegetables long ago; it's high time for the boneless chicken.

I don't want anything on my plate I can't eat.

mcg said...

I'm just trying to figure out how it would ever work. I mean, I can see replicating muscle cells. But the best pieces of meat have some fat in them, too. And I guess we can forget about artificial bacon. Everything's better with bacon, you know. So maybe what we do is eliminate all animal-created meat except bacon, and wrap all artificial meat with bacon.

Chip Ahoy said...

Reading this caused a pressure within my brain that could be relieved only by immediately consuming a large platter of raw fish along with a gigantic beer.

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

Smilin' Jack,

Your mention of boneless chicken reminded me of this classic cartoon.

John Lynch said...

Sure. Why kill when you don't have to?

I'm not a radical vegan or anything, but it seems to me that not killing to eat is preferable to slaughtering animals.

I imagine the cost of growing meat will far, far outstrip the cost of raising animals for the foreseeable future, so it won't matter any time soon.

Revenant said...

I'm looking forward to lab-grown meat products. We'll have more control over the content and no ethical concerns (plus, probably a lot less environmental impact -- chickens, pigs, and cows produce a LOT of waste).

bearbee said...

If they could somehow grow meat without it having ever to have been an animal, would you eat it?

Haven't eaten meat in years and have no desire to eat Frankenmeat.

dbp said...

I think John Lynch is correct about the cost.

Animals have bone, skin and stuff we don't want to eat, but they do have things which are very useful: A digestive tract and an immune system--just for example.

Cell culture requires nutrients to be in fairly refined form (basically, already digested and in the correct proportions)--you can't just give them grass and water. They need glucose, amino acids, insulin etc. Everything that comes into contact with the cells must be sterile! Have you got any idea how much it costs to sterilize all that? Especially when you consider that a lot of what you need to sterilize cannot stand autoclave temperatures: They are sterlized by filtration.

The only niche I can see it working in would be as an ultra-luxury item. And not meat like chicken: People might pay top dollar for lab meat if it is of rare, endangered or extinct species.

The idea revolts me, but what are the ethics of lab-grown human flesh? Will famous people donate cells and collect a royalty from each pound sold? Yick, giving myself the creeps...

Revenant said...

dbp,

There is also the possibility of developing animals that don't have any higher nerve functions. I don't know how the fruitloops at PETA would react to that, but it seems to me that if an "animal" hasn't got a brain to feel pain WITH then you can pretty much do what you please with it.

blake said...

And what, pray tell, with what do we fill the areas that used to be filled with livestock?

Something that pleases our vanity to think pollutes less?

reader_iam said...

I had a comment to make, but it's been driven out of my mind by my husband's hysterical laughter in response to the South Park episode having to do with the experimental growing of a human penis on a mouse, which I'm not watching, but I yet I feel that I have, given all the blow-by-blow replays of the action.

Cursed, or blessed? You tell me.

Some days, it all seems to come down to the same (damned? blessed?) thing.