From Artistic Vision to Industrial Production

"First test-tube MEATBALL revealed: Startup claims lab grown meat will be on shelves within three years and says raising animals to eat will soon be 'unthinkable'."

With these words, the victimless meat experiment that Catts and Zurr conducted as an art project is poised to become a common commodity in supermarkets.  The firm confirms the artists' predictions that this technique can drastically reduce the energy consumed and the wastes produced by conventional cattle growing and butchering.

When art featured self-expression, the popularization of an artist's innovation would have been condemned as a violation of an artist's rightful domain. But eco artists rarely lay claim to their creative efforts because they are designed to solve real world problems and serve real world interests. I suspect Catts and Zurr are rejoicing.

Memphis Meats CEO Uma Valeti declares, "We plan to do to the meat industry what the car did to the horse and buggy." He then explains, "We love meat. But like most Americans, we don't love the many negative side effects of conventional meat production: environmental degradation, a slew of health risks, and food products that contain antibiotics, fecal matter, pathogens, and other contaminants."

Its first line of products will include hot dogs, sausages, burgers and meatballs, which will all use recipes developed by award-winning chefs.

'Our concept is simple. Instead of farming animals to obtain their meat, why not farm the meat directly? To that end, we're combining decades of experience in both the culinary and scientific fields to farm real meat cells—without the animals—in a process that is healthier, safer, and more sustainable than conventional animal agriculture.' 

The process utilized by Memphis Meats is identical to that of Catts and Zurr. They isolate cow and pig cells and provide them with oxygen and nutrients so the cells not only remain alive, they develop and multiply inside bioreactor tanks to become muscle, that is then served as meat. The growth process only takes a few weeks.

There is already competition in this infant, revolutionary industry. Sergey Brin started growing a beef burger from stem cells in 2013. It calls them ‘frankenburgers’. The process used here addresses the problem of mushy texture that made the meat grown by Catts and Zurr so distasteful. The solution involves adding a step after the tissue has multiplied to the size of a serving of meat. It is anchored to Velcro and subjected to exercise to bulk it up, replicating the firmness of meat grown in a conventional manner. The resulting product is mixed with seasonings, egg, colorants, and breadcrumbs.

Finally, 20,000 strips of the meat are minced and mixed with salt, breadcrumbs, egg powder and natural red colourants to form an edible patty. 

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