Real Meat, Without Growing a Full Animal

The world loves meat.

From the early hunters-gatherers to the Big Mac, eating meat has been an integral part of the human experience: today, 90% of the world’s population eats meat. Our love for meat not only defines our nutritional habits, but also the way we socialize. Indeed, meat is the cornerstone of countless social gatherings; picture the many backyard summer barbecues where families gather to share food, stories and laughter. This love of meat is woven into the fabric of our culture. However, the process through which meat is produced — animal agriculture — is an outdated system, and is in dire need of innovation.

There are many problems associated with animal agriculture. It poses serious health risks, from the excessive use of antibiotics, to fecal contamination, to problems like E. Coli or the bird flu. It is a leading cause of climate change and many other forms of environmental degradation. It raises a variety of animal welfare concerns. And in a world driven by the bottom line, the economic cost of current animal production techniques is simply not sustainable — even the meat industry knows this.

At the same time, the global love for meat is insatiable: in the next 30 years, demand for meat will double.

There are simply not enough resources on the planet to satisfy that demand.

What if there was a way to cultivate meat that is authentic and biologically identical to the meat we’ve always loved, without the immensely negative effects on the body, the planet and the animals?

What if instead of farming animals only to slaughter them and harvest their meat, we could farm the meat directly from animal cells, without the environmental, health and ethical concerns?

What if this new process was cheaper and faster than raising a whole animal, and only produced meat of the highest quality? In other words, what if the Big Mac was loaded with only the best quality beef instead of cow trimmings and scraps, and cost less than it does today?

That’s the innovation we at Memphis Meats have been hard at work developing
The world’s first meatball grown entirely from real cow cells at Memphis Meats.
The result? Real meat, without the need to grow a full animal and all the problems associated with it.

Our meat cultivation process is simple yet elegant, with safety, taste and variety acting as guideposts. We start by selecting animal cells that have the ability to self renew from our library of pork, beef or chicken meat cells. These cells, which are the core components of conventionally-produced meat, have the ability to rapidly and efficiently self-renew. We then feed these meat cells rich nutrients including vitamins, minerals and plants (the same way you’d feed grass to a cow), and let them grow into protein packed meat. Once the meat has achieved the desired tenderness, bon appétit: meat that is superior in quality and taste to the meat we have always enjoyed is harvested from our farms, ready to be cooked!

And like beer breweries, large quantities of meat could be grown and harvested in a meat factory (meatery) that one could tour.

While the process is still being perfected in our specialty kitchen, we envision a world where everybody has access to meat that is better for the body and the planet. Farmers might own a meatery, the same way they might own a herd of beef cattle. Like beer breweries, these meateries could be open to public tours; When was the last time you were offered a tour of a slaughterhouse? Local restaurants would be empowered to offer their unique meats in-house, sourced from a clean and safe meat producer. Locally-grown could have a whole new meaning!

At the Near Future Summit, I had the pleasure of sharing some of the progress we at Memphis Meats have made in the last year. It has been quite a ride.

In January 2016, we cultivated the world’s first-ever cultured meatball using our cutting-edge techniques. We had a professional chef cook it, and invited a taster to try it. We filmed her candid reaction; the resulting video has received over 8 million views in just a few days. Our media debut prompted thousands of people to reach out to us with words of encouragement, many asking how they could get involved to help get Memphis Meats products on the shelves. With all this support, plus poll after poll showing that the public is yearning for safer and better meat, we feel uniquely positioned to help the world solve these pressing problems.

Our goals are ambitious. We want to preserve a classic human tradition that has helped define so many cultures and ways of life.

We want to use 21st century innovation to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

And we cannot do it alone. We’re calling on anybody and everybody inspired by the potential of cultured meat to reach out to us. To change the world, we’re going to need a diverse coalition of folks from all walks of life to get involved. We couldn’t be more excited.

To read more work from the Near Future Summit, check out the publication on Medium.

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