You find the future in the oddest places. I mean if you are like me and have been reading science fiction for decades, you probably go along feeling like nothing has really changed all that much compared to the future you read about. Yes, yes, our cell phones can do all kinds of cool things but where are the Jetson cars and colonies on the moon and cute talking robots and all those other things that the future was supposed to bring?
And then, blat, along comes a piece of that science fiction that has turned real, and you find out about it in a place you least expected it.
A few years ago I ended up on a Pop Sugar Fitness email list by virtue of downloading a workout video. The articles were short and often interesting, enough so that I was willing to ignore the others with headlines like “28 Healthy Zucchini Recipes” and “The Best Gym Bags by Personality Type.” (I did not make either of these up.) Then the other day I saw this.
The article went on to say that a company called Memphis Meats “has found a way to manufacture meat in a lab” and that the product’s appearance, smell, and taste are “identical to real meat.”
So. There it was. The giant blob of factory grown chicken flesh from “The Space Merchants” (and how many other novels) in which human hunger is finally assuaged by scientists figuring out how to grow meat without bothering with the rest of the animal.
Two things popped into my mind right away. One, I’m surprised it has taken this long. Given claims of all we have done with modified food and genetic engineering, this doesn’t seem like a giant leap from current technology.
The other is that this makes sense. It’s more humane, possibly more healthy, probably more ecological, and certainly more efficient. And yet it is somehow totally creepy. Who wants to eat a slice of animal part grown in a lab? On the other hand, why is eating a slice of an animal that once was alive any less creepy?
To the credit of Pop Sugar, they got that this technique would meet with both praise and disgust and asked for readers to weigh in with their opinions. Want to to speak up? Leave a comment at their site and feel free to leave it here as well.
The potential reality of factory-grown blobs of animal flesh reminded me that every day we do wake up in the future. And every so often, we’re just not entirely sure how we feel about it.