The first lab-grown hamburger is coming as soon as next August or September for about €250,000 ($337,825), reports Reuters. "The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," says Mark Post, vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. The lab-grown burger will be made of thousands of muscle-like strips—each measuring about 2.5 by 1 centimeter with a nearly see-through thickness—stacked with strips of lab-grown fat. Post grows the muscle strips from the stem cells of leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, giving them nutrients and exercising them by stretching them "between Velcro tabs in the Petri dish to provide resistance and help them build up strength."
Why make lab-grown meat? Current livestock meat production isn't sustainable, not can it feed the rate of demand of a world that isn't going to turn vegetarian overnight, says Post. Lab-grown meat could feed more people, cut emissions, and save energy and water.
Post hasn't tried his lab-grown meat yet, but a "Russian TV reporter who came to his lab tried one of the strips and was unimpressed." It doesn't help that the muscle is unappetizingly pale-colored; Post says they may add lab-grown blood to give it color and iron.
Ars Technica explains some of the many technical hurdles that make lab-grown meat so expensive and difficult to get right.
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.