It is time to discuss the future of meat. With the global population likely to reach nine billion people by 2050, the continued levels of production and consumption of meat as they are now are unsustainable. Global warming, energy consumption, animal diseases, and projected global food shortages are just a few of the problems related to food that we are to face in the future. And then we have not even started about the much-discussed animal-cruelty of factory farming. Will we soon be eating only rice, beans, and seaweed burgers? Or will we be eating insects?
Scientists expect cultured meat to become a sustainable and animal-friendly alternative for meat. Cultured meat is produced by growing animal cells into a piece of a meat in a bioreactor. The Netherlands is a pioneer in the development of cultured meat and the first lab-grown hamburger has already been made. However, people are not sold yet on the idea of eating meat grown in a lab. And rightfully so. Before we can determine if we are prepared to eat cultured meat, we have to explore the food culture that comes with it.
While it is tempting to think that we can recreate our tasty hamburgers, sausages, and steaks without needing animals, in-vitro technology has an own potential that we can currently only guess at. The Meat the Future exhibition exhibited 30 cultured meat products that might be served on our plates in the near future.
We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.
This exhibition was designed as a speculative cultured meat restaurant that was divided into four sections which each explored an issue in which cultured meat can play a role:
- The need for sustainable production.
- The prevention of food shortages.
- The avoidance of animal suffering.
- The gaining of new food experiences.
As cultured meat is still in development, the dishes cannot be prepared - yet. The number of stars assigned to each dish gives an indication of its technological feasibility. One star means that the dish can currently not be made yet. Dishes with five stars can already be produced today.
The dishes on exhibit have been developed by a team of chefs, designers, and artists, in order to explore the potential of cultured meat. The dishes vary from knitted pieces of meat to meat fruit. They are unique and delicious, but simultaneously uncomfortable or even macabre. We do not want to predict the future, but rather present a range of potential new food products and food cultures that can help us to decide what we would like the future of food to look like. We wish you a tasty discussion!
Koert van Mensvoort, curator Meat the Future.
Next Nature Network