WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
By 2050 there will be an estimated 10 billion people on the planet, producing our food in new ways will let us alleviate hunger and feed them all.
Over the past couple of years I’ve been watching the rise of vertical farms, that produce eight times the crop yields in a thousandth of the space with 99 percent less water and 100 percent less chemicals and pesticides, and a trend called Clean Meat, meat, such as beef, chicken, duck, and turkey, that’s grown from animal stem cells in bioreactors and labs without the need to rear or slaughter any animals. And that was recently approved fit for sale, and human conssumption, by none other than the US FDA. Now, on the back of a $300 million order for clean meat from China, Israel based startup Aleph Farms has just unveiled the world’s first lab grown steak, a milestone on the road to bringing a cruelty free meat product to the market that demonstrates, for the first time, the technology’s ability to imitate the flavour, shape, texture and structure of a classic, tasty, beef steak.
Back in 2013, the first lab-grown burger was revealed to the general public. At the time the burger cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it was seen as a priceless proof of concept for producing beef without the environmental or ethical costs generally associated with meat production, or AKA “the animals.” However, it’s one thing to create a beef mince like protein in laboratory conditions, but growing something that resembles a conventional steak is an altogether different type of challenge.
“Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” explains Aleph Farms CEO, Didier Toubia.
Lab grown meat, or clean meat, generally involves extracting muscle tissue samples from a live animal and then stimulating those cells to replicate in laboratory conditions. A large assortment of start ups are racing to be the first to commercialise this technology and estimates on when it will finally reach market shelves vary from three to 10 years depending on how quickly cost effective large scale production can be developed.
Aleph’s demonstration of the first lab grown steak is an exciting advance in cell cultured meat technology. The company claims the steak takes about three weeks to grow from an initial cellular sample into the steak you see cooked by Israeli chef Amir Ilan in the video above.
“Aleph Farms’ minute steak is thinly sliced and will cook in just a minute or so,” says Ilan, discussing his experience using the meat. “For me, it is a great experience to eat meat that has the look and feel of beef but has been grown without antibiotics and causes no harm to animals or the environment.”
Lab grown meat hitting the market is clearly a case of when and not if, as the technology continues to race forward in both sophistication and efficiency. Traditional meat producers went on the offensive earlier this year beginning political plays to stop these new products from using the term “meat,” and after some early initial wins and amazing developments it seems like the nascent lab grown meat industry will face more than just technological hurdles in getting its product to the market in the coming years.
Source: Aleph Farms