It looks and tastes like conventionally-produced chicken

A new restaurant is opening up in Tel Aviv:

At a new restaurant in Tel Aviv called The Chicken, the chicken on the menu is grown from cells in a bioreactor in an adjacent pilot plant visible through a glass window. Diners don’t pay for their meals; instead, SuperMeat, the startup making the “cultured chicken” meat, is asking for feedback on its products, as it prepares for large-scale production of food that it thinks can transform the industry.

The main item on the menu, the Chicken Burger – a crispy cultured chicken fillet served on a brioche bun with toppings – looks and tastes like conventionally-produced chicken. “The burger has a juicy chicken flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside,” says Ido Savir, CEO of the startup. “Feedback from multiple tasting panels was consistent that it was indistinguishable from conventionally manufactured chicken, and simply a great-tasting chicken burger.”

So not really a restaurant as such, more an exercise in handing out free samples. But still very interesting. Although “feedback”, in this context, sounds like someone’s been sick.

Human guilt about the way we treat animals has been building for quite some time. Which means that as soon as we can stop maltreating animals so that we can then eat them cheaply, we will. In the same sort of way that we largely did away with slavery as soon as some of us felt that we could.

I learned of this story from the endlessly informative Steve Stewart-Williams, my favourite tweeter by a considerable margin. He has supplied me with many a story for my Fridays here, when I like to reflect upon and giggle at and about animals and their complex relationships with each other and with humans, from mutually supportive to horribly cruel. And there could not be a more important animals/humans story than this one, because it will surely utterly transform how animals are treated by humans. (Next up, animals won’t be allowed to eat each other either. They too will only eat “cultured” meat. Think about it.)

Sadly for many animals, the choice they have is between being reared by humans, maybe cruelly or maybe not, and then being eaten by humans, or not being reared at all. Life as food, or not life at all.

On a cheerier note, watch the heads of veggies explode when they realise that the fastest food is now also the most veggie food.

And yes, if you’re thinking I must have prepared this earlier, as they say, you are quite right. I wrote this, apart from this, last Monday.

3 thoughts on “It looks and tastes like conventionally-produced chicken”

  1. There are more domestic chickens in existence than any other type of bird. 23 billion of them, accoding to Wikipedia. Also, I love the Latin name (Gallus gallus domesticus). So being eaten by and producing eggs for humans has been a very successful thing for the species from an evolutionary perspective. Most of them don’t lead very satisfying lives, though.

  2. There’s another choice: you could be wild animal and live a life of extreme hardship and poverty before dying cruelly. Arguably a well looked-after domestic cow, say, doesn’t have such a bad time of it.

    But yes I am all in favour of lab grown meat if it tastes good. Even better if it is an improvement.

  3. Rob, thanks for this comment and all your other recent comments. Much appreciated.

    It’ll be interesting to see if lab-grown meat turns out to have unforeseen health hazards associated with it. See also “processed” foods. Tinned veg is far better than no veg at all, especially if you choose a veg whose goodness mostly survives being tinned. But processed food does seem to have drawbacks attached.

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