Grass-fed. Organic. Cage-free. Wild-caught.
How about lab-grown?
Yes, friends, stem-cell-based meat stand-ins could be the next big clean eating trend coming to a supermarket near you.
There's no denying that mass-produced meat isn't great for the environment. The meat industry uses up one-third of the world's fresh water and accounts for a ton of greenhouse gas emissions, according to TIME. But it's far from easy for everyone to just stop eating it all together.
Enter San Francisco-based Memphis Meats, one of the main companies behind that super-realistic meat product grown in a laboratory.
Memphis Meats estimates that their faux-beef and faux-poultry will be in grocery stores by 2021, according to Eater. So far, they have raised $3 million in investments and are hoping for a bit more.
How does it work?
"We start by harvesting cells from high-quality, living chickens that might otherwise go into conventional meat," Memphis Meats' senior scientist Eric Schulze told Eater. "The chickens are not killed in the process. We look for cells that have potential to renew, put them in environment where they can grow and feed them water and nutrients -- vitamins, minerals, proteins, sugars -- and let them grow."
And grow they do. It takes them around four to six weeks to mature into the food you want to eat, which is around the same amount of time that the meat industry takes to raise a chicken.
Most people who taste the duck, chicken, meatball and beef replacements say that they taste just like the real thing, and the company doesn't believe they will have any trouble passing FDA approval or convincing skeptical meat-eaters to join the eco-friendly side.
There is one issue that could prove a major setback: price. As of now, it costs the company around $9,000 to grow a single pound of chicken meat, while the average American pays around $3.22 for a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts.
"We feel our challenges [related to price] are similar to those of other technology products," said Steve Myrick, Memphis Meats’ VP of business development. "By reducing input costs and doing it on a much larger scale we'll be able to get our prices down."
That's what their competitors are doing, too. Netherlands-based Mosa Meat, which grows burger-type patties from cow cells, has dropped their estimated cost from $325,000 per patty to $12, so there is definitely hope for Memphis Meats.
We'll keep an eye out.