Whaletech: 3D printing of meat

via amysrobot.com

via amysrobot.com

I’m posting this myself, as Cam is currently being restrained in a padded room.  (A place a lot of people would like him to remain).

Why?  Because of the travesty that is 3D printed meat.   As one of meat’s greatest aficionados, Cam simply thinks this isn’t acceptable.

The CEO of Modern Meadow, Andras Forgacs, did an AMA on Reddit a few days ago about his company’s tech that includes the 3D printing of leather and meat.

His AMA introduction was this

At Modern Meadow we’re developing technology to 3D-bioprint meat and leather. In fact, we’ve already made some, which you can see my co-founder and father eat in his TED talk here (at 5:33).

Why are we doing this? Meat is one of the most environmentally taxing resources, taking up one third of all available (ice-free) land and is a leading contributor to climate change. Conversely, growing cultured meat requires 99% less land, 96% less water, emits 96% fewer greenhouse gases, and harms no animals in the process.

Our work has been covered in TIMEScientific AmericanCNET, and here’s a video of a recent talk I gave at Google’s Solve for X conference. Ask me anything!

Even though the idea of laboratory meat may be abhorrent to Cam, the truth is that basic proteins for use in sausages, pate and other deli products don’t have to come from the nicest marbled Angus steaks.  

Question is, can they get the taste right?

I’ve tasted it as have my colleagues. We’ve only been able to have small bites since we’re still working on getting the process right. I cooked some pieces in olive oil and ate some with and without salt and pepper. Not bad. The taste is good but not yet fully like meat. We have yet to get the fat content right and other elements that influence taste. This process will be iterative and involve us working closely with our consulting chefs.

Luckily, for Cam’s sanity at least, a proper steak is still a pipe dream.

Real steak is a big stretch. It won’t be the first product since steak is very hard to make for now. Instead, the first wave of meat products to be made with this approach will likely be minced meats (burgers, sausages, etc.) and pates (goose liver pate, etc.). Also seafood is an early possibility since the texture requires may be easier to achieve than premium cuts. While I doubt anyone will make commercial quantities of premium steak within 10 years, we will eventually get there but it will be an Nth generation product.

I spoke of the Star Trek replicator concept some days ago, when I covered 3D printing of guns, and this technology is doing the same for food.

It may not be an appetising thought right now, but one day we may have tanks of basic constituent ingredients and a 3D printer to print ourselves a meal.

This video is really worth a watch as Andras broadly outlines the process.  One of the things that might cheer Cam up is that “moral vegetarians” won’t have any reasons not to eat meat in future, as it will  be nothing more than a different kind of Tofu.


H/T:  The Dish

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