t may sound disgusting, but it's a reality: Scientists have created in vitro "petri dish" meat, which they hope will taste exactly like pasture-raised meat even though it's grown in a lab. Vegetarians and animal-rights groups are excited about the potential to sidestep the slaughter process, but grassroots sustainable-farm advocates and corporate factory farms are both opposed to synthetic meat (in what James McWilliams in The Atlantic calls "one of the stranger cases of mortal enemies waking up as snug bedfellows"). Other commentators choose sides:
What's wrong with farms? If the alternative to farm-bred meat is "highly processed food" developed in a corporate laboratory, "I'll stick with the real stuff," says Jan Hoadley in Live the Country Dream. Fake meat raises all sorts of issues — stem cells? weird Frankenstein science? — and I'm not sure an "exodus of unemployed farm workers moving to the city to work producing petri-meat" counts as "progress."
"Fake meat, animal rights, and country living"
How could you not support fake meat? The objections to synthetic meat just "boggle my noodle," says James McWilliams in The Atlantic. I get why "Big Ag" is wary, but for anyone who cares about the environment, public health, food security, and yes, the welfare of billions of to-be-slaughtered animals, in vitro meat could be "the most pivotal development in 10,000 years of farming." Given the chance, "I know how my fork would vote."
"Eating (synthetic) animals"
It's a matter of taste: There's a good deal to like about "test tube meat," says Adriana Velez in The Stir, although the foodies tend more toward the "farm-to-plate ethic" these days, and it's "way too expensive" for everyone else right now. But "here's what I wonder: What would it taste like?" How do you synthesize all the factors that determine flavor — from breed and geography to the nuances of a corn vs. grass diet? Until I can participate in taste tests, I'm officially ambivalent.
"Test tube meat: Would you eat it?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Russia's Ukraine invasion is a moral crisis
- 4 life hacks from ancient philosophers that will make you happier
- The end of academic freedom?
- The Daily Show explains Hamid Karzai's 'Afghan Hustle'
- Another Bitcoin exchange bites the dust
Subscribe to the Week