Scientists around the world have been kicking around the idea of making meat from stem cells for years now–a tantalizing (yet slightly disturbing) project for anyone who abhors the state of factory farms. Denmark’s In-vitro Meat Consortium has gotten the furthest with the project, however, having recently created strips of meat approximately half an inch long using stem cells from pig muscle cells.
The meat is grown by putting the stem cells in a nutrient-based soup that triggers cell replication. At its current rate, it would take approximately 30 days for the nutrient soup to grow a small pork chop. But the stem cell meat, which could one day be used in sausages and hamburgers, is hardly ready for prime time. The meat only has an 80% protein content (compared to a 99% protein content in livestock meat), giving it an icky scallop-like texture because of the excess water and nucleic acids. And then there’s the issue of taste–none of the researchers have dared to eat the mock meat.
Still, we’re rooting for the project. Lab-made meat could potentially cut down on worldwide hunger, increase protein consumption, and cut down on the amount of land, water, and energy used to make food. If you’re still grossed out, brace yourself. Lab meat will be on store shelves within a decade.