“Fakin’ That Bacon”Synthetic Meats Hit the Marketplace
By Tawna Renee Bliss for Da-Le Ranch
It's stranger than fiction, animal tissues taken into labs, fed “nutrient liquids,” then grown into masses that resemble the meat of the host animal. Sounds very sci-fi thriller-esque, but it’s all too real. According to an email I received from The Weston A. Price
Foundation (if you’re not a member, I highly encourage you to become one!), lab-grown
meats are not only poised to hit the marketplace in the next few years, but the
developers of these franken-furts have lobbied to have ZERO labeling of the origin of
these products. What this means is that you will have no idea that your steak started in
a petri dish. Already, educational elites have begun to pedal this product. Upon searching for information on synthetic meat, much support can be found from universities like Harvard, which has published papers with statements like, “given the rather gruesome state of current meat production practices, it is easy to see the ethical appeal of synthetic meat. This new technology would permit the production of the food products enjoyed by so many carnivores around the globe without inflicting pain on any animals in the process” (Harvard).
Sounds delightful, right? I mean nobody (hopefully) enjoys the thought of animal
suffering, but many people believe there is great health benefit to consuming (ethically
sourced) meat, myself included. Here is where we need to clarify, the Harvard study
compared synthetic meat to the meat harvested from conventionally raised animals,
there was no mention of grass-fed, free-range, small-scale ranching operations. A
further concern is the fact that this product will likely be largely unregulated since
“synthetic meat producers would prefer to not label their products as ‘in-vitro,’
‘laboratory-grown,’ or anything of the kind” (Harvard). The FDA has concluded that
“[genetically modified] foods are substantially equivalent to unmodified ‘natural foods,’
and therefore need not be labeled” (Harvard). To take things further, the “FDA has also
indicated that, based on substantial scientific data, cloned beef poses no unique
consumption, and is therefore not ‘materially different’ from ‘natural’ beef. (Harvard)”
The sad likelihood is that synthetic meat producers will NOT have to label their products
as something different from traditionally farmed meat. Because meat is meat, right?
I understand the moral/ethical standpoint on this, people don’t want animals to suffer for their personal enjoyment, I too share this conviction. But the consideration of ethically and sustainably raised livestock has been entirely forgotten in this conversation. The nutritional value of grass-fed animal proteins is unarguable, in fact, one of the biggest hurdles synthetic meat faces is that of nutritional content. A lab-grown product will always pale in comparison to something grown beneath sunshine, nourished by the earth, and tended with loving hands.
Photo courtesy of Da-Le Ranch
“Synthetic meat is a product created in the laboratory from animal stem cells.
Scientists extract these cells from the thigh, either chicken, cow or pork, and
multiply them in a controlled environment. To do it the ‘right way,’ other
components are added, such as myoglobin, connective tissue or fat.” […] it is
necessary to reproduce muscle and adipose tissue, in addition to adding some
flavoring and texturizing ingredients [...] some compounds, such as vitamin
B12, cannot be provided.” thehealthyville.com
In 2013 the first synthetic burger was produced and consumed, “there was just
one problem: the patty had taken two years and over $300,000 to produce”
(sciencefocus.com). A few years later “In January 2016, a company called Memphis
Meats produced a ‘cultured meatball’ for around $1,000.” (sciencefocus.com). The
financial hurdles to producing synthetic meats are massive, but money isn’t the only
obstacle. These lab-grown meats require nutritional serums constructed from “a cocktail
of sugars, amino acids and animal blood” (sciencefocus.com). The only problem with
sourcing these nutrients is that “there would not be enough serum in the world to grow
all the cells you need to mass-produce” synthetic meat (sciencefocus.com). This
renders the argument that synthetic meat is more sustainable, healthful, or affordable,
null and void. Not only is the cost to produce these products astronomical, but the
energy required to create them is anything but sustainable.
The one-sided argument in support of synthetic meats needs to be acknowledged
before consumers unconsciously make health choices. Not all animals suffer
unimaginable cruelty before they land on your plate. There are regenerative,
sustainable, and ethical operations all over the world, and the animal products they
produce are incomparably nutritive. Not only that, but properly managed farming
operations can actually regenerate the land. Cellular laboratories boast no
environmental benefit, and how do scientists expect to ethically source the stem cells
and serums for their test-tube tri-tips? And do you really want to eat something grown
under fluorescent lights and microscopes rather than sunshine and fresh air?
I have two words for the reader: INFORMED CONSENT.
The FDA and USDA have already formally approved synthetic meat for the US market,
and it is slated to be available as early as 2022. We can only hope labeling will be
Now it is up to YOU. Consumers need to know where their meat comes from, how it
was raised, and if it is pure (ie: antibiotics, additives, type of feed etc.), and the only way
to guarantee that is to buy ranch-direct and KNOW your rancher. Cultured cells fed
nutritive concoctions will never viably compare to grass-fed, free-range animal proteins.
If you want to do your part supporting ethical farming and nutritive eating, then build
relationships with local ranchers so you know your animal proteins are coming from a
good source. Opt out of this bizarre movement to disconnect from the earth and its
bounty, nourish yourself with things that occur in nature, without lab-coats and needles.
We may have forgotten nature, but nature has not forgotten us. Our bodies require
REAL food for REAL health, don’t be fooled by persuasive labeling and marketing, buy
from your local rancher!