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Designer Steak

How cultivated meat is going to change the world and your role in it

By The Food GuyPublished 3 months ago 10 min read
Designer Steak
Photo by jirayu koontholjinda on Unsplash

Have you ever heard of cultivated meat? A lab-grown steak that requires no cow or any other animal involvement (if we don't count humans) which is identical to the current champion belt holder - cow.

Good Food Institute (GFI) describes cultivated meat as “genuine animal meat (including seafood and organ meats) that is produced by cultivating animal cells directly. This production method eliminates the need to raise and farm animals for food. Cultivated meat is made of the same cell types arranged in the same or similar structure as animal tissues, thus replicating the sensory and nutritional profiles of conventional meat”.

Current technologies for financially viable cultivated meat steak for restaurants or supermarkets are still in development, however brands like SuperMeat have already launched their cultivated chicken from their test kitchen to their restaurant where guests can try “The Chicken burger” with the crispy cultured chicken fillet. Yum!

The future of cultivated meat (also known as cultured meat) is very promising. It can replace the need to grow animals for meat, and at the same time tackle the animal-welfare issues, environmental impact of animal agriculture, and solve the food problems we are about to experience for the forecasted 9.7 billion people in the next 30 years. And while the current predictions won’t tell us when the new meat hits the shelves of supermarkets, there are questions we still have to answer.

Designer meats

Humans have been obsessed with meat ever since they tried it.

At first, animal meat was a necessity, a source of nutrients essential for survival, and as some theories show the development of the human brain. With time we get better at hunting and farming. Domesticated farmed animals became the norm and so did the meat. Animals just like us require a large quantity of food to grow. If an animal dies before slaughter then the meat and all the products fed to it go to waste. Feeding becomes a puzzle. We want meat, so we want to feed the animal just the right stuff for it to grow and give us what we want.

This is what science and observations point to.

At first, we took an observer's standpoint, we learned about animals’ habits and nature and treated them to more of what they desired, under our supervision. Pastures of grass-fed beef are basically wild-grown, except for the surrounding fence to keep livestock in and intruders out. As we started to want more, we took more control. If you can grow a cow for two years instead of three, that would mean more meat, more often. Further aspects like the size of the pasture can be controlled to produce more animals over smaller territories, increasing yield from the same footage. Eventually, we chose the feed that works best for us. Including dead carcasses, leftovers and medicine. As time went on we limited play to ensure maximal growth.

The efficiency of the system became the goal. Fast forward and what you see is a modern agricultural system with its criminally limited spaces, fattening speciality feeds, hormones, necessary antibiotics and other “efficiency practices”. Today’s animals are treated as we see fit, as long as they grow to become meat. Sometimes animal welfare is important to raise the prices for the new demand, other times cruelty is the answer for the disposable male chicks.

The majority of us don't grow meat ourselves, instead, we outsource such tasks to farmers or manufacturers. Companies specialised in land use for animal production, feeding, pasturing, control of diseases, slaughter and further processing of animal carcasses into steaks, chops, breasts, sausages, you name it. The potential for tasty products is only limited by imagination. New products’ answers to hunger include turkey dinosaurs, rectangles of chicken pure that get crispy in the oven and Dora’s smiling face from the surface of the square ham. If we don't feel like eating ham out of the can, that’s ok, it can become a sliced product for the sandwich, or a pizza topping and vice versa. Consumers' desires are always welcome if the results lead to profits.

Above all the creatively convenient highly processed meat products are the speciality meats. Breeds of animals are raised specifically for their outstanding eating characteristics, like wagyu beef with its marbling fat. Much can be said about the highest quality meats where the source of the flavour and texture is achieved through unprocessed and unrefined feed, fair treatment (it impacts animal emotions that influence the taste of the meat), and most natural living conditions. In other words, animals are allowed to be animals. Still, they are raised for slaughter and treated well to raise the price of the products they become. Some farmers and chefs take this process a step forward and feed animals treats. Acorns for the pigs, quality grains for chickens and fresh cream for the lamb, etc. In this way, animal meat becomes richer in flavour, softer, juicier and more exquisite, before it touches the surface of the chopping board. These meats become a restaurant experience, the best of its kind, superior products, rare and expensive. It is the reason we pay hundreds of dollars for a meal.

The Designer Steak

In the restaurant business if you want to make the best food ever created you must be able to control every single aspect of the culinary experience. Read a couple of books on restaurant management and gastro-physics, and you will learn that in the restaurant business, the experience of the meal begins at the entrance and everything matters.

The renowned restaurants are prepared to create the best experiences for their guests. From the handkerchiefs sewn with the dinner's initials and personalised background checks to learn about guests' likes and dislikes before they arrive, to the personal involvement in the future starters and mains feed, growth, and slaughter. On top of that, where possible, they control every ingredient, size and weight of cutleries and crockeries, the language used with the guests and their every impression. Music, colours, the feel of the napkins, room temperature and the smells will leave an imprint on the culinary experience. Nobody wants their Michelin dinner to be ruined by the aftershave of their waiter.

In the best restaurants, every dish is carefully crafted, tested, refined and served in the best way possible - fresh, for maximum satisfaction. Chefs take pride in their team skills, from de-boning to slicing. It is the master's light touch that cuts every piece of the fish fillet to the same thickness to make the most impactful of the nigiri. World’s best restaurants spend hundreds of hours monthly with the most skilled hands and senses preparing for the service. To source, cut, pre-cook and set things ready for the guests' arrival.

Imagine yourself coming to the world’s best restaurant, your initials shine gold from the corner of the handkerchief, the chef greets you personally and mentions a personalised special. You are seated in the dark oak and leather chair. You listen to the life violin in the centre stage of the brightly lit yet intimate environment of the room. Your table is covered with a silken white textile, it is softer than your bed sheets. You are surrounded by the spectacle of marble and gold. It only takes a moment before the first dish arrives, but not before you are recommended and served the wine to start your culinary journey. You eat amuse-bouche, starter, salad, and interlude, and drink a small glass of curated wine paired with every course. The entreé is about to come. You are lost in anticipation. So far, everything was out of this world. Every flavour was like a symphony. The orgasmic combination of refined tastes and masterful execution. Every bite was a story told directly into your dopamine receptors. Your memory blasts images from the best moment of your life. Birthday party when you were 10, high school graduation, new job, first house, your wife showing you the very first picture of your oldest daughter, your daughter's 10th birthday. A single tear tickles your chin and wets the silk. Every muscle of your body relaxes, yet you feel a powerful impulse to wander. A handsome tanned man who might be a Hollywood actor brings a large tray with a plate on it. It is covered with the golden mate globe. You see a reflection of a man with eyes wide open. Your own smile blinds you. In one swift motion, the dome reveals the steak. Your name is engraved on it. That can’t be, no, you don't believe your eyes. The steak is perfectly seared. You cut an edge and lay it on your tongue. Perfection swallows you. When you open your eyes again, you feel a little ashamed and ecstatic. The steak is well-done, just like your mom used to make it. You force yourself to keep eating like a normal person. Halfway through you notice that your name flows through the fibres of the meat, between the grains of fats and juices. To distract yourself from the spectacle you think of the meat's qualities. It is tender like nothing you have ever tried before. Every bite is succulent. The edges are beyond crispy, they make you lose your sense of hearing. It sounds like an orchestra of percussion playing the triumphant song of victory. Every bite is “the one” and, before you know it, it’s finished. The rest of the evening flows with the theme. Everything is beyond your expectations, you are lost in time and space. You think you might need a rest after this. On the last spoon of the dessert, you are no longer the same person who entered the building. One thing you are sure about - the steak was phenomenal. In the truest possible version of the word.

You are not who you were

The next day you wake up as if from the dream come true. You whistle to the song of the birds singing. Your footsteps are light and humble.

In the middle of the day, you decide to learn more about your experience. You sit at the desk with a hot latte in your favourite mug and load up the restaurant’s website.

The next sip you take is the last one, it’s lukewarm at best sending an imperceivable shiver down your spine.

The tasting menu was built around groundbreaking new technology, the future of culinary experiences, the most precise flavour creations humanly possible using your DNA, the molecular coupling and the AI-modelled flow between dishes, and colours of the environment to set up for the big reveal. You find what you were looking for - cultivated meat (also known as cultured meat). It is not the first time you hear about it. This time, however, it is unlike anything you have ever seen. The scaffolding is designed by a famous Italian artist who specialises in human psychology and societal structures, a Nobel prized biology professor and the cumulative experience of thousands of chefs and critics. This is the product of global-scale collaboration. The result of thousands of years of experience and expertise. The letters of names are ingrained just for fun, you read - “it makes you pay attention”. The rest is a micro-level mega-project with each cell of the meat carefully placed by the human-assisted 3D printer. Each block of flavours, colours and textures is precisely embedded where it means the most to the wholeness of the structure. This is the steak that would cost billions to make at the beginning of this century. Now anyone with half a grand to spare can lose themselves in a gastro orgasm.

You fall back to your chair, exhausted from reading. Flavour and structure engineering. The future. Fully approved to roll out to the shelves of supermarkets by the end of the decade, ready for delivery, and soon on the menus. Your money makes the change. Victimless steak. Culinary revolution. You look around feeling lost. What's your response?


https://gfi.org/science/the-science-of-cultivated-meat/#Endproducts https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/population#:~:text=The%20world's%20population%20is%20expected,billion%20in%20the%20mid%2D2080s. https://www.history.com/news/why-humans-eat-meat

If you like what you've read check my website - FoodEdd.com and keep reading with Vocal. And if you like meat and the planet support me with your pledge.

Your money makes the change.


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About the Creator

The Food Guy

I read about food politics like it's a Harry Potter.

Eating my way through culture and cooking up the future.

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