Test-Tube Meat, AKA Shmeat, Hydroponic Meat, PETA Approved


Meat that is grown/ concocted in a test tube is also known as in vitro meat, victimless meat, vat-grown meat, hydroponic meat, cultured meat, or, finally, shmeat. This delicacy-of-the-future is grown from a cell culture rather than a live animal. Said cells are harvested from an animal, such as a pig, and placed in a nutrient-rich soup that mimics blood. Once the cells multiply, they are affixed to a spongy sheet (shmeat = sheet +meat) that has also been enriched with nutrients and then stretched to amplify cell size and protein content.

According to Lou Bendrick of Grist,

Earlier this year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that it will offer a $1 million X Prize for the creation of affordable, humane, and "commercially viable" test-tube meat by 2012. This announcement, not at all surprisingly, piqued public curiosity (for starters, why is PETA endorsing anything with the word "meat" in it?)

This shmeat could, in theory, be harvested in vast quantities and used in minced meat products: burgers, nuggety things, or potted meat-food products, etc. While scientists (they call themselves "tissue engineers") admit that growing a pork chop with a bone without a real pig attached is not likely, the say also that affordable, palatable minced shmeat might be available at a grocery store near you within a decade.

Wired's Alexis Madriga reports that schmeat might be a practical solution the the rapidly increasingly global demand for meat:

In vitro meat production is a specialized form of tissue engineering, a biomedical practice in which scientists try to grow animal tissues like bone, skin, kidneys and hearts. Proponents say it will ultimately be a more efficient way to make animal meat, which would reduce the carbon footprint of meat products.

So far, the concept has been met with a certain amount of resistance. This sort of lab-produced, hyper-processed food does seem to run counter to current food trends. Indeed, shmeat seems the very antithesis of organically raised heritage breeds of meat that are consumers are currently clamoring for.

Gawker's Hamilton Nolan is highly skeptical of the test-tube meaty treat:

Throwupthrowupthrowup. Intellectually, it's clear that test tube-bred animal tissue would be a good way to allow people to have their precious Slim Jims without actually killing cows, and would presumably be chemically similar to normal meat. But really, just the thought of eating "test tube meat"--god, it's painful to even type it.