Growing your Favorite Burger

philipcheng

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Why do you like your favorite food? Most people would say they like their favorite food because they like its taste. But most people don’t realize that they not only take comfort in familiar flavors but also in the idea that their food comes from a familiar source. For example, The Guardian had a survey that showed one third of participants wouldn’t eat meat if it was grown in a petri dish.  The pole did not say that the meat from the petri dish was worse in any way. It only said that the meat was grown in a petri dish rather than taken from an animal. This survey points at a potential trend that proponents of grown meat fear: that consumers would be turned off by the idea of meat grown in a laboratory.

Grown meat will likely be a part of our future since grazing causes deforestation and produces more carbon emissions than transportation. Also global meat demand is predicted to double by 2050 as living conditions in Asia and Africa rise. But, to make grown meat a part of our future, people have to accept it. There’s nothing wrong with grown meat. Grown meat is made from the same proteins as regular meat, but because it comes from a petri dish in a lab rather than from an animal on a farm, the food makes people uneasy because it goes against our basic expectations about meat. People feel meat must come from a living animal and is not something synthetic, like rubber. Thus far, researchers have found that grown meat is perfectly healthy to consume. They only need to develop a way to produce it on an industrial scale.

As research continues, this meat might even become better than meat we get from modern industrialized farms. These farms keep livestock in cramped, dirty, and cruel living conditions.  Documentaries such “Death on a Factory Farm” have shown the inhumane treatment livestock are subjected to. But, for the most part, we still buy food from these cruel and dirty farms. We are either still unaware of what happens to our meat before it reaches the supermarket, or we have a vague notion of filth and animal cruelty locked in the back of our heads while we are focused on eating our favorite fillet. People are not just comfortable with the familiar flavors, but also by the idea of familiar food processing. We see the industrialized meat in the supermarket and we see that it is approved by the USDA. Even though the meat might have been dirty or abused at some point in the process, its good enough eat.  It’s not a pleasant idea, but we accept it because we have been eating this type of meat for years.

However, some people are not satisfied with the notion of modern industrial farming, and opt to buy livestock raised in cleaner more traditional farms. These types of foodies don’t just want a delicious and familiar taste, they want to feel safer and better about themselves with the idea that the food they ate was raised in better, cleaner conditions and doused with fewer hormones and antibiotics.  But, if we notice, the only people who consistently do this are people who are rich enough to indulge their palates and ease their consciences.  They not only savor the taste of the meat, but also the idea of how it was made.

Even though these foodies seem far removed from the average meat eater, they do reveal something about human nature. In a pursuit to indulge ourselves, we will continue to old and outdated practices as long as we can afford to. When it comes to meat, we don’t just indulge our tastes. We also take comfort in familiar food practices.

In the future, some people will still be alienate by grown meat, and would prefer to eat meat that requires an animal sacrifice. They’ll eat this type of meat as long as they can afford to. However, in this case, the cost is less financial and more environmental. As environmental concerns mount, people can no longer continue industrialized farming, and grown meat will emerge as its alternative. This change would happen more out of external pressure and less out of an eagerness to change. This is not to say humans are evil, but change is scary and we change our lives as a survival instinct.

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