Skip to comments.3D printed meat could soon be cheap and tasty enough to win you over
Posted on 03/06/2013 12:48:35 PM PST by Red Badger
The next time youre about to bite into a hamburger, take a moment to consider the resources that went into making it. In a recent Solve for X talk, Andras Forgacs laid out all the statistics, and explained how tantalizingly close we are to a more sustainable method of meat production. Basically, humanity may soon be 3D printing meat instead of growing it in an animal.
Forgacs starts by explaining just how costly a single quarter-pound beef patty is to produce. For that one serving, 6.7lbs of grains, 600 gallons of water, and 75 square feet of grazing land were used. Now multiply that by 1000 to find your (approximate) impact the average American eats over 220lbs of meat each year. Additionally, at least 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to meat production. All this for one burger?
As economic opportunities continue to lift populations around the world into the middle class, demand for meat is rising. With 7 billion people on the planet, we are sustained by 60 billion land animals. When the population hits 9 billion somewhere around 2050 we would need 100 billion land animals. That would be ecologically devastating, so something has to change.
Advances in bioengineering have been able to produce meat analogs, but the process has always been stupendously expensive, and the results were only passable. It turns out that its actually very difficult to match the taste and texture of animal muscle tissue by growing cells in the lab. The marbling of fats and connective tissue is integral to the experience of eating a burger.
Applying 3D printing to artificial meats could be the answer, according to Forgacs. If you take tissue engineering and add in some 3D printing, you get the burgeoning field of bioprinting. Researchers are working with cell aggregates as the medium in bioprinting (as opposed to plastics in regular 3D printing). Layer after layer of cells can be laid down to more closely resemble the genuine article. Researchers can basically build a block of muscle that never lived.
So maybe its going to be possible to make artificial meat that feels and tastes like the real deal, but what about cost? Well, Forgacs concedes that it does still cost a few thousand dollars to make a pound of meat in the lab. Unless youre seeking the most expensive burger in the world, thats no good. Still, the cost of real meat is inevitably going up and the printed stuff will become cheaper as economies of scale kick in. The process right now is taking place in a research lab, not a large production facility.
Printed meats will eventually become cost-competitive with the dead animal kind. Until then, we may all have to take a closer look at what were eating.
I had a friend that raised beef critters, when I was a kid. As I recall, it was about a year from him getting the calf to him selling it. (I'm sure it's different from critter to critter....)
Anyhoo, so figure - 30 lbs * 365 days = about 5-1/2 tons of forage. Total. Grazing, grains, the works. Which still sounds a little high, but I could buy it, I suppose.
Man, I've shovelled a lot of cow flops. Copious though they are...a cow just can't PROCESS as much food as the article claims.
Bacon paste?? I want crispy bacon, not Play-Doh!
Don’t worry. It’s not real.........
I’m sure someone is working on it to make it a reality!........
How soon can we have a 3D printed president?
we already have one. He’s as artificial as you can get...........
Sure as hell beats bean sprouts and dandelion greens.
“I dunno, Picard never had much good to say about the food from the replicators.”
Commander Ryker: “We no longer enslave animals for food.”
i don’t believe the figures that they say are needed to make 4 ounces of meat. cows weigh 1200-1500 pounds. there’s no way those figures are accurate.
Ummm umh, real crispy bacon.
When rat meat goes on the menu, then I become a vegetarian. Still, I think in third world countries (soon to be the US if 0bama has his way!) I think it is already a staple.
If I was starving I would feel differently, but I currently have no interest in eating rat meat. If/when I come to the point where I had to to survive, I’m sure I could do it. If it comes to that, I would prefer mine boneless though...
In survival training in the Marine Corps you learn to eat anything you can catch...........What’s the difference between a squirrel and a rat? A fluffy tail..........
I’ve known dogs that would consider rat meat a delicacy. Since cat litter was.
Me, I even avoid crustaceans.
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!