Over a hundred years ago, many city dwellers across the United States became fearful that bread made in bakeries was getting contaminated. It wasn’t long after that, ordinances and factories began popping up making bread that was considered clean and sanitary. Only a few years later in 1931, Winston Churchill predicted we could “escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” This idea is now coming true from what is coined as “clean meat”.
How much does meat production affect the environment?
Innovation is always the mother of invention. In today’s world where we are worried about climate change and impacts to the environment, there is a need to find alternative ways to reduce the footprint that meat production creates for our planet. Just think about this… livestock production uses one-third of ALL the fresh water on the planet and is responsible for about 18% of human-caused greenhouse gases. And the worst part? In under-developed regions of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa, livestock accounts for as much as 1,000 kg of carbon for every kg of protein they produce. With the population of the world ever increasing and land available staying the same, efficiency is key. Does that mean we need to create more mass slaughterhouses that exist in places like Europe and the U.S.? Fortunately, scientists are helping to make this answer NO! with the concept of “clean meat”.
So, what is clean meat?
Clean meat describes any meat grown without animal slaughter. Like clean energy, it communicates to a person the environmental benefits and the decrease in food-borne pathogens & drug residues that come with factory slaughterhouses. So, it works like this. You start by taking cells from a live animal, placing them in a fluid that helps the cells multiply. This fluid mimics the role of blood from a live animal. These cells are then placed in a bioreactor to convert them to muscle tissue. What you’re left with is meat that’s almost identical to what you buy at grocery stores! Besides it not being traditional livestock, this clean meat requires substantially less water, energy and land. It also contains no antibiotics or food borne illnesses like salmonella.
WAIT! Before you form a solid opinion or answer this question on clean met, keep your mind open for the 2017 TEDx South Lake Tahoe. This year’s presenter Paul Shapiro, The Human Society, will be delving deeper into this movement and challenging the way we think. Are you ready? We are!