Lab-grown meat seems to be everywhere these days. Last year, cultured meat and seafood companies raised $1.38 billion in investment, and more and more startups are popping up to develop their own products. A lot of people are betting that cultured meat is part of the future of food — and we wanted to find out why.
The creation of cell-based meat starts with a biopsy from an animal. From there, the cells are cultured in a lab and given the right nutrients to grow and multiply. Once there are enough cells, the batch is transferred into a bioreactor, where the cells continue to multiply until the end result is enough cells to sink your teeth into.
This process takes a lot of time and resources, and according to the Good Food Institute, no company today has reached commercial production that is cost-effective. Expanding this enterprise will require a lot more infrastructure. That means bigger vats, more space, and more utilities, which raises lots of questions about the cost.
It’s too soon to tell just what shape the industry will take. In the meantime, consumers have the opportunity to consider what relationship they want to have with their food. Almost a decade ago, Dutch researcher Cor van der Weele explored this question with a focus group in the Netherlands. They came up with a thought experiment called the pig in the backyard, in which one pig could feed a whole neighborhood for years. Check out our video to learn more about the many potential futures of cell-based meat and meet a local backyard pig.