Lab-Grown Meat? I’d Rather Eat My Shoe
New Hampshire cattle are efficient machines that graze on rocky and steep land that would otherwise be useless. They are amazing creatures who also provide nutrition for the rest of us-the opposite of lab-grown meat.
Twenty years ago, I was a vegetarian. Now I eat meat, but not just any meat; knowing how the animal was raised is essential to me.
For those still-vegetarians, there is a huge commercial push to create “fake meat.” Recently United States regulators approved the sale of chicken made from animal cells, allowing two California companies to offer lab-grown meat to restaurants and supermarkets. Lab-grown or fake meat companies often market themselves as Earth-friendly, but are they?
Their meat is created from live stem cells taken from the muscle and skin of live animals. The cells are then cultivated under lights and dosed with antibiotics to keep them bacteria-free. Meat grown this way consumes enormous energy and might not be anything you’d want to eat. (I have to admit, I’ve never tasted it.)
Well-known nutritionist and food author Diana Rodgers says, “I’d rather eat my shoe than lab-grown meat.” She argues that the best meat comes from farms where animals are allowed to graze and be raised outside the industrial food system. I agree with her, and my farm shoes are incredibly unappetizing.
Diana and I are not alone. According to research from Purdue University, consumers prefer real beef and farmer well-being compared to plant-based alternatives or lab-grown meat.
Growing meat in a lab does remove the difficult decisions a small family farmer like me has to make about which animals are destined to be beef. Nevertheless, I know my cattle have lived good lives, passed painlessly, and now provide nutrition for the rest of us. Their manure has also fertilized the soil in which vegetables will flourish. How can fake meat make my garden grow?
Besides, fake meat is heavily subsidized. In her book “Raw Deal,” Chloe Sorvino says, “Industrial chicken sells for under $3 per pound, whereas the same amount of a lab-grown equivalent can cost thousands of dollars to produce.”
Even so, there’s money to be made in fake meat. A Texas farmer said. “Silicon Valley and venture capitalists have invested billions of dollars in this, and they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re doing it because they plan on making money off it.”
Fake meat might be affordable someday, but will it be anything you’d want to eat?
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Carole is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, N.H., where she raises beef and shares the joys of her Farm with kids and adults. She can be reached at email@example.com.