Cultivated Meat Passes the Taste Test
Reputable Israeli chefs Michal AnskyShe knows what she likes in food. She’s a professional taster and a Master Chef judge. So when she was invited to the world’s first public blind taste test pitting lab-grown, or cultivated, chicken up against a conventionally raised product, she jumped at the chance. Although it was an historic occasion, she knew that she would be capable of telling the difference.
Surrounded by cameras and perched at a restaurant bar with two other judges—an Israeli restaurateur and a food journalist—she sniffed the two samples, labelled A and B, placed in front of her. The tasting was conducted blindly by a team of lawyers who watched. Even the chef who sauteed the meat in sunflower oil—no salt, no seasonings—didn’t know which was which. Although sample A smelled and looked slightly different to B, they both smelled the same. Ansky tried bowls A and B. Then she tried again. She rubbed her eyes in concentration. She complained that they were all bland and lacked the flavor of chicken breasts. The samples were both finely ground and it was hard to tell which one was better. However, her reputation as a shopper would have her believe that sample A was more authentic. It had a richer, more “chickeny” taste.
Tel Aviv’s meat technology start-up hosted the tasting SuperMeatAt its restaurant in-houseThe Chicken. Behind the restaurant bar a vast window looked into the working laboratory where the company’s cultivated meat samples had been grown from stem-cells, fed on a broth of nutrients in large, stainless-steel bioreactors. The gleaming silver tanks stood no more than 20 meters away from the judges’ forks—hyper local at its most narrow definition.
The first publication of this version was in Climate is everything newsletter. Click here to sign up
The tasting was attended by a small number of journalists, as well as curious observers. However it is a major shift in the field of food technology. Since 2013, the.The first hamburger that was grown in the labA $330,000 price tag was displayed to the public. Since then, alternatives meat companies have come closer to making a comparable product.Good MeatCalifornia-based food tech company Eat Just Inc. has a cultivated meat division that sells deep-fried chicken nuggets. fish, steaksAnd even moreMouseThe American supermarket shelves will have the cat treat on the shelves by December 31, subject to regulatory approval.
However, despite all of the startup glitz, the question is still: Would consumers be able tell the difference? And if so, will they still eat the product? SuperMeat chose to test their product without deep-frying, breading and other sauces which are often used to hide a loss of taste or texture. The tasting video can be viewed hereClick here). Although neither meat was particularly appealing on its own by the judges, it is unlikely that anyone will rave about the flavour of skinned and unseasoned chicken breasts. “There is a difference,” said one judge, the Israeli restaurateur and chef Yair Yosefi. “But I wouldn’t be sure which one is the [conventional] chicken. B, maybe.” Ansky disagreed. Sample B was less tasty, so it had to have been the one that had been grown in sterile laboratories. SuperMeat founder Ido Saviar announced that the sample A was actually cultivated. She was so sure of her choice, that she corrected him. “No,” she said. “A is the real chicken.”
Savir said no, and he smirked. Sample A “was grown on the other side of the window there, just a few days ago.”
Ansky’s jaw dropped. “I was wrong,” she marvelled in front of the cameras, “and I am the expert.”
Ansky called me the following day to discuss the tasting. “It’s one of the only times in my life that I’m really happy that I was wrong,” she told me. “In my heart I was saying Hallelujah. Because it’s about time.” Ansky likes meat. Nearly every day, she serves chicken to her loved ones. She also recognizes that the current way meat is produced is not sustainable. About 80% of all meat- and dairy product is produced in the United States. 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Processes of industrial animal agriculture PolluteBoth water and air supply are available while Emissions of methane, which is an important greenhouse gas. A brand new study published last week in Nature FoodResearch shows high-income countries can reduce agricultural emissions almost by two-thirds by moving from animal-based diets. It could open up a vast area of land which is more than that of the whole European Union. If this area were allowed to revert to its natural state, it would capture around 100 billion metric tons of carbon—equal to 14 years of global agricultural emissions—by the end of the century. While the report doesn’t address lab-raised meat products directly, they are aAlternative meat that can be used to reduce the need for factory farming.
“It doesn’t stop at chicken,” says Ansky. Cell-cultured eggs and other dairy products are being explored by food tech startups. “It’s as important as finding a cure for cancer because the thing that causes global warming and puts our lives at risk on this planet is the food industry. When we change the production, when we go from factory farming and from bloody slaughterhouse floors to fluorescent lights in laboratories, we will really be having an impact.”