Near-term Neermeat?

One way to create a more sustainable food supply, and one that is humane, clean, and efficient, is to grow edible protein in the lab. I call this type of foodstuff “neermeat,” short for engineered meat.

And it’s not science fiction.

Tissue engineer Vladimir Mironov at the University of South Carolina has been working on growing engineered meat in the lab for a decade, according to a recent Scientific American article. So far, however, his lab’s progress has been hampered by a lack of funding. No one with deep pockets wants to touch it.

If they ever do get enough funds to launch their “charlem” — Charleston engineered meat — out of the lab on into the grocery stores, here’s what they envision:

“It will be functional, natural, designed food,” Mironov said. “How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture.”

Mironov, like many who believe society is going to need some pretty revolutionary ideas if it’s going to sustain itself through the coming century, calls it, simply, “progress.”

So I bet you’re wondering what this neermeat-esque charlem is made of. Here you go:

Dr. Mironov has taken myoblasts — embryonic cells that develop into muscle tissue — from turkey and bathed them in a nutrient bath of bovine serum on a scaffold made of chitosan (a common polymer found in nature) to grow animal skeletal muscle tissue.

Tasty. I wonder if they have the technology to grow Haggis.