A test-tube 'burg is now cheaper than most meals at Five Guys.
In 2013, researchers at Maastricht University announced that they had successfully created a hamburger made entirely out of lab-grown beef. At the time, concocting the faux-burger cost around $325,000—a sum that added an unsavory note to an otherwise remarkable feat.
But recently, Dutch professor Mark Post told ABC news that the estimate had since dropped to around $11 a patty, or $80 per kilogram. "From a small piece of muscle you can produce 10,000 kilos of meat," he explained.
The process involves extracting the cells that repair muscle tissue from cows and placing them in a container with something appetizingly called "fetal calf serum." After the calf serum's nutrients are reduced, the cells begin to produce protein.
Obviously, the most important question is, "how does it taste?"
Well, when the burger was unveiled in 2013, the taste test results were less-than-glowing. "The absence is the fat, it's a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger," said food authour Josh Schonwald, who was one of the first people to taste the lab-grown beef.
Still, there's hope that the taste can be improved simply by allowing some of the stem cells to develop into fat cells, which would give the meat a more juicy, robust flavor.
If you're hoping to see animal-free meat in your grocer's butcher shop sometime soon, you may want to curb your expectations. Long-term, commercially viable production of this stuff is still relatively far off.
"I do think that in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef," Post said.
But even if we're still a few decades away from mass-produced test-tube beef, there's no denying its potential impact on the environment, our health, and world hunger.