Thursday, December 01, 2005

Where's The Beef?

Despite its popularity, meat — both in its production and in its consumption — has a number of adverse effects on human health, environmental quality, and animal welfare. These include: diseases associated with the over-consumption of animal fats; meat-borne pathogens and contaminants; antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the routine use of antibiotics in livestock; inefficient use of resources in cycling grains and water through animals to produce protein; soil, air, and water pollution from farm animal wastes; and inhumane treatment of farm animals. As meat consumption continues to increase, worldwide, these problems are now a global concern.

As a result, there is an increasing market for meat substitutes that have the taste and texture of meat, but do not cause the problems associated with conventional meat. Meat substitutes can be made from plants such as soybeans, peas, or wheat; mycoproteins; or from animal tissues grown in culture. There are several plant- and mycoprotein-based meat substitutes already on the market. Click here for examples.

One novel line of research is to produce meat in vitro, in a cell culture, rather than from an animal. The production of such "cultured meat" begins by taking a number of cells from a farm animal and proliferating them in a nutrient—rich medium. Cells are capable of multiplying so many times in culture that, in theory, a single cell could be used to produce enough meat to feed the global population for a year. After the cells are multiplied, they are attached to a sponge-like "scaffold" and soaked with nutrients. They may also be mechanically stretched to increase their size and protein content. The resulting cells can then be harvested, seasoned, cooked, and consumed as a boneless, processed meat, such as sausage, hamburger, or chicken nuggets.

Note from Technophile: Because meat substitutes are produced under controlled conditions impossible to maintain in traditional animal farms, they can be safer, more nutritious, less polluting, and more humane than conventional meat.

Source: [New Harvest]

No animals are killed in the process of making beer. If you are a "Master Griller" or if you know one, you can find unique gift ideas (like the design below printed on a BBQ apron) at Café Xpress.

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