In a world where the population is growing fast and resources are finite, can cell-cultured meats satisfy the challenges of world hunger and more? The question in terms of combating hunger is huge, and the answer is, “Yes.”
Cell-cultured meats have been developing for over a decade now, and cutting-edge technology is only getting better. Here’s how it works, and why it could be the future of sustainable protein production.
by David Stone
What Is Cultured Meat?
If you’re like me, cell-cultured meat sounds less like science fiction than an inedible concoction only researchers could love.
But what if was served as a steak with a traditional side of mashed potatoes and a little spinach…? And you didn’t know it had never had a home inside the body of any animal, vegetable or fungus? If not blinkered beforehand, would you still reject it? Of course not.
And if you couldn’t tell the difference between it and the real McCoy? That’s what scientists are searching for. Our human future may depend on it.
So, What Is Cell-Cultured Meat, Exactly?
Cell-cultured meat is also sometimes referred to as “lab-grown” or “clean” meat.
Scientists create it by taking animal cells—usually muscle or fat cells—and placing them in an environment where they can grow and multiply. Similar techniques already produce skin cells used to replace those people lost through burns.
This environment contains nutrients that provide the cells with everything they need to survive. That’s a universe of proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other essential elements. Over time, these cells form into small pieces of edible meat.
It mimics what the cells in an animal’s body do naturally. Just in a sterile environment outside any body.
How Does It Work?
Cell-cultured meat production begins with taking some animal tissue that contains stem cells. These are special types of cells that have the potential to differentiate into any type of cell in the body.
The stem cells are then cultured in a nutrient solution that mimics their natural environment in the body. As they divide and grow over time, additional nutrients are added until it forms into edible pieces of muscle or fat tissue.
These tissues can then be packaged for sale as a finished product or used as an ingredient in other products like hamburgers or sausages.
Why Is Cell-Cultured Meat Important?
Cell-cultured meats offer many advantages compared to traditional livestock farming methods.
First off, since cell-cultured meats don’t require slaughtering animals, there is no need for land or water use associated with raising livestock.
And because these meats are grown from stem cells rather than harvested from living animals, they do not contain any hormones or antibiotics as conventional meats do. This makes cell-cultured meats a more humane option for consumers who care about animal welfare and sustainability issues related to food production.
Because cell-cultured meats also require far fewer resources than traditional livestock farming methods, they could help reduce global hunger by making more food available at lower costs than traditional protein sources like beef and pork.
And the Future Is Calling
The future of protein production may lie in cell-cultured meat technologies which allow us to produce real food from animal cells without slaughtering animals or using up precious resources of land or water on unsustainable livestock farming.
While still relatively new, these technologies hold a promise of revolutionizing how we feed ourselves tomorrow by providing a more sustainable source of protein while maintaining quality standards.
With continued research, investment and development, we may very soon enjoy delicious meals made from real food without compromising our values. At the same time, feeding the hungry while avoiding the devastating abuse of factory farms may fit the puzzle for a better world.