I got to sleep in till 6:30 this morning, so I feel fantastic. I think that all my problems could be solved by sleep. Not that I have a whole lot of problems. Having done all kinds of useful domestic tasks yesterday, I went to bed with a good book, The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food.
Taste of Tomorrow is an enjoyable read. It’s as much about the author’s feelings and responses to the people he interviews as it is about the future of food. I was fascinated by the initial chapters, which focused on salads. The history of salad greens is suprisingly dramatic, and I am really looking forward to grilling some radicchio once it gets above freezing outside. I’m rethinking genetically modfied foods, too.
The book has now moved on to in vitro meat: meat produced by cloning, I guess. Cells from muscle tissue are grown in a medium, a sort of broth, until they reach the size of a cut of meat — some time in the future, since it hasn’t happened yet. I can only enjoy meat (and I do) by thinking as little as possible about what is is and where it comes from, so I’m not appalled by the prospect of in vtiro meat — or no more than I am by the meat we eat now. However, the author gets the maximum weirdness into the descriptions.
He interviewed Jason Metheney (and I’m probably spelling that wrong) and made him sound weird, just for sounding so completely reasonable. Click that link and you’ll find a brief YouTube intreview, and it sounds completely reasonable. The book includes Australian performance artists serving in vitro frog steaks and attempts to exercise the in vitro meat. This ups the weirdness factor considerably.
However, I think that everyone I know well will have just one thing in mind during the whole discussion: the meat blob in Better Off Ted.
In trying to find a film clip for you, I dicovered that many, many of my fellow web writers have the same reaction. I don’t know whether this will harm the chances of in vitro meat in the marketplace or not.
Other candidates for the future of meat aren’t very futuristic. Schonwald (the author of the book) considered rabbits, but lots of people already eat rabbits. In fact, it is odd of us, when seen in the whole panoply of time and space, to limit ourselves as we do in the U.S. to pigs, cows, and poultry. Schonfeld is Jewish, so pork is presumably off the menu for him as well, and he has to alternate among beef, chicken, and turkey. He was able to find a new fish for the first course of his futuristuc meal, but couldn’t see trying for a goat meat revivial, so he went to the lab instead.
I went to a lab, too, this week. Not an in vitro meat lab but a high density electronics lab, and you can read about it at our education website. I found it fascinating. Schonwald is like me in this, I think: he likes to find out about new stuff and see where people work, be it a radicchio field or an in vitro meat lab. No wonder I’m enjoing his book.