Futuristic meat and meat alternatives have been on the way for awhile now. Beyond Burgers and cloned steaks are the wave of tomorrow. Who wants to deny science? Certainly not the folks behind the SuperMeat campaign that just hit Indiegogo.
What is SuperMeat? It’s meat — specifically, chicken — that’s been grown in a lab, rather than a crowded henhouse. No chickens are harmed, it’s just a small sample of cells from a chicken that are grown in a “special nutrient soup” (yum!). The cells grow into tissue, which then grow into actual meat, and wait — do you hear that? That’s the sound of the future making our current beak-ripping chicken situation look ridiculous.
If you’re still confused, take it from SuperMeat’s Indiegogo campaign description:
Using tissue engineering techniques refined from regenerative medicine, animal cells are incubated in an environment that mimics the natural body of the animal. The cells are then enriched with nutrients that help the cells thrive and divide, growing into a full meal-ready piece of animal meat.
SuperMeat will focus on three products specifically: cultured chicken liver meat, minced meat and chicken breast. The reason you should care about it is because so-called cell-cultured meat is way more humane and eco-friendly than traditionally-raised meat. There’s no crowding, no disease, no slaughter, and far fewer resources are needed to produce meat in a lab environment. There’s also the possibility that cell-cultured meat could be used to aid the fight against global hunger. In fact, SuperMeat envisions a future in which every household has their own meat cultivation machine for creating home-grown SuperMeat. (Does that mean we’ll also get pizza rehydrators? Fingers crossed.)
In all seriousness, the word about cultured meat seems to have caught on. In the twenty-four hours since SuperMeat’s Indiegogo campaign started, 1190 backers have raised 58% of the $100,000 goal. With two months left to raise the rest of the money, things are definitely looking good.
The next question is whether SuperMeat will really be able to deliver on their promise if and when they do reach their goal. The $100,000 is just a boost that will allow the company to “really get the ball rolling” — its ultimate funding goal is $2.5 million. “We know it’s a lot of money,” the campaign writes, “but it’s the truth. Developing a machine that produces cultured meat is not cheap. That’s why we need your help.”
But the startup is hopeful. After all, they point out, cell-cultured meat has been produced before. In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger made its debut in London. And then there’s the brain behind SuperMeat: “Having the world renowned Professor Yaakov Nahmias as the head of our research team makes us very confident about SuperMeat’s success in being a leading force in the production of cultured meat.”
Meat that tastes exactly like chicken but hasn’t suffered to get there? We dig it. SuperMeat hopes to produce a prototype by 2018, with production beginning in 2021. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for eating chicken from factories where the workers are so busy they have to wear diapers. Sounds humane all around.
Check out SuperMeat’s hilarious pitch video below: