Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Shmeat: It's What's for Dinner!

Have you heard about Peta's offer of a million dollar X prize to anyone who develops an "in vitro" chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken and be able to manufacture it in large enough quantities to be sold commercially, and successfully at a competitive price in at least 10 states?

It caused some controversy in their organization because some Peta members are not only opposed to eating meat from living animals but they're opposed to eating any meat even if it comes from a test tube.

Scientists are already working on "in-vitro" meat also known as, vat-grown meat, hydroponic meat, test-tube meat, cultured meat, victimless meat, and finally, for regular folks, shmeat.

The meat is grown from a cell culture and not from a live animal. They harvest the cells from an animal, such as a pig, and place it in a "nutrient-rich medium that mimics blood. Once the cells multiply they are attached to a spongy scaffold or sheet (sheet + meat = shmeat) that has been soaked with nutrients and stretched to increase cell size and protein content". It doesn't grow into the shape of an animal and it can't grow bones. It's basically just a lump of shmeat.

Proponents say it's a good way to meet the protein needs of a growing population. It would end not just the growth of factory farms to feed that population but would end all factory farming. And unlike factory farming it wouldn't hurt the environment. It would be healthier for us because they could manipulate fat content and nutrients. And it would be free of hormones, chemicals and diseases. They also claim it's no less natural than raising farm animals in "intensive confinement systems, injecting them with synthetic hormones, and feeding them artificial diets made up of antibiotics and animal wastes."

Opponents say it's "too yucky". That there could be safety risks because we just don't know what unintended consequences there are when fooling with nature. They say it's more energy intensive than raising meat in a natural setting. That the nutrient-rich medium has to come from an animal’s blood or a more expensive process of genetically altering a bacterium. That it'll create even more distance between humans and nature. They also say it won't qualify as healthy because it'll need additives and flavor enhancers to make it palatable.

I've already pointed out how our agricultural system isn't really prepared or capable at this time to handle a population bubble. I've also pointed out the interconnectedness of our health, our environment and the way we grow our food. One way that is apparent and can be magnified is when looking at factory farms which are the way a majority of our meat is raised. I won't tell you the horror stories but you should know there are plenty and they're real. For the animal, for our health and for our environment. It also requires much of the Midwest's best farmland to be used to grow cattle and pig food rather than people food. And raising meat is water intensive. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat whereas a pound of wheat requires 25.

Shmeat sounds like the answer to all that. But somehow I find the thought of eating it more objectionable than factory farmed animals. I don't know what it is but it's more than the yuck factor. If it were available right now I wouldn't buy it or eat it. How about you? Up for a shmeatroast, shmeatburger, shmeatwings, or a shmeatdog? How about a shspam sandwich?

Here's the article I quoted from above:

BTW, I'm not the Lisa who asked the question but I felt the same as she did when I first heard about "in-vitro" meat. "....I can't tell if the prospect of test-tube meat should make me feel relieved or horrified".

TTFN, LDouglas

Hey! Did y'all know? Alkeehaul is completely vegan - just sayin.


Lola said...

Alcohol is vegan as long as it isn't the last shot from a bottle of Jose Cuervo. ;-)

You know the song?

"Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine.
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime,
Then I kiss all the cowboys, then I shoot out the lights,
Then I dance on the bar, then I start up a fight."

You gotta watch those worms, they sneak up on you...

Jethro Bovine said...

Oh.. So the "sh" comes from "sheet". I thought it came from a different word with "sh" and "t" in it.


LDouglas said...

Lol! Good to know it's not just me who had that reaction. Thanks.