Updated: Oct 27, 2020
"Why are they screwing around with the meat? Meat is not chemicals, it's real. It's a live product. Stop messing with Mother Nature."
That was my wife, Jackie's, first remark when I told her about a growing movement to develop meat, poultry and fish products in a lab instead of "harvesting" them from animals.
"I want real meat, I don't want chemicals," she said. "God only knows what's in it. And don't tell me it's organic. You can't grow meat.
"Meat walks around, it bays, it moos, oinks, it clucks, it poops, it pees. They eat too."
But Jackie, these products are being grown in a lab from muscle tissue cells harvested from a living animal. That way you don't have to kill the animal. They say it would be good for the environment. In fact, there's a new study that says continued traditional meat production will have "dire consequences" on climate change.
"What if the guy making this stuff has a fight with his wife?" she asked. "Who knows what will go in it. 'Oh, sorry. I got so mad at my wife I didn't know what I was doing.' I'm not eating anything like that."
Come on, Jackie, there will be protections, and some guy isn't just whipping this stuff up in a basement somewhere. After all, U.S. regulators intend to introduce rules for such products later this year, and big companies plan to launch their first commercial products also this year.
"Yea? Well, I'm not eating any," snapped Jackie. "Whatever meat I eat has to have four legs, or two and wings if they're chickens or ducks. Since I don't do fish, it doesn't matter to me what they do, but if I did, the damn things would have to swim and have fins. Or maybe claws.
"And not only that, what about the farmers and the ranchers and the fishermen? I like them. They work hard. We need to support them, not take away their livelihood. I want to buy my meat from the meat market, not get it from some lab. Are you kidding me?"
If Jackie is any measure of everyday people, there probably will be considerable pushback, just like has occurred with genetically modified foods.
"I don't eat any of that GMO stuff," Jackie said. "If it's so great, why do so many snack companies plaster "No GMOs" all over their bags of potato chips?
"So, why in hell would I eat a piece of so-called meat made in a lab someplace. No thanks. Yuck!"
Those are all good questions, Jackie. If you'd like to know more about actual meat, meat processing, and what's involved in that, check out this handy guide. Pretty cool.