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Meat Me in the Future
Oprah Winfrey was in some hot water in Texas a while back. She had some disparaging words for beef products, and a bunch of Lone Star cattle ranchers sued her for meat defamation. It was a silly lawsuit based on a silly law, but at least those cows had someone to stand up for them.

The Frankenburger is not so lucky. There is no petri meat anti-defamation league, no champion for lab patties, no mommy and no daddy. If you don’t know, “Frankenburger” is the name the press has given to the meat patty created in a laboratory using only stem cells from cows. The cells were first soaked in nutrients, causing them to multiply, then coalesced into strands. Later, they were collected into pellets, frozen, and finally compacted into patties. Coalesced, collected, and compacted — I wouldn’t wish that childhood on my worst enemy.

What’s more, even the technicians who made the meat seem apologetic about it. Dr. Mark Post, leader of the Maastricht University team that created the meat, admitted, “There’s still much work to be done.” Not exactly the proud parent the little burger might have hoped for.

I feel badly for the Frankenburger. It comes from living tissue, after all. Those first quivering strands of cells could be said to be alive… before they were coalesced, anyway. Who is to say that they didn’t have a soul, even if it shone only dimly? I don’t know, but I do know that this humble quasi-being deserves better than the abuse it has suffered.

The media have been particularly cruel. That is not surprising; this defenseless bit of flesh is just the kind of victim they relish most. They use a mocking tone, for the most part, with very little regard for the meat’s feelings. Special attention is given to the meat’s color (a dull yellow until tinted red with beet juice and saffron), its taste (“animal protein cake”), and its pedigree (non-existent). One commentator in London’s Daily Mail said that the whole idea turned her stomach. I wonder if she could hold onto her cookies in a slaughterhouse.

I’m sorry, but I cannot abide this kind of slander without saying at least a few kind words about the Frankenburger:

It does not fart. Because cow farts are rich in methane, they contribute mightily to climate change. Methane, in fact, is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide in this regard. For this reason, cows add as much as automobiles to global warming. The humble Frankenburger, on the other hand, emits no gasses at all. It exists only to serve us, quietly and without unseemly odor.

It’s low fat because it’s all muscle. That also means no gristle (if you’re on a gristle-free diet).

It does not require large tracts of land to sustain it. In theory, it could be cultured in huge underground factories, leaving the surface to more planet-friendly food production and to more paving.

It appeals (or should appeal) to our fundamental humanity. If we can love a cow, how can we not find a space in our hearts for a hamburger that has never felt the sun on its back, the breeze in its face, or the company of other cows? I would like to think that Oprah Winfrey would feel empathy for this beleaguered little beef-thing. She seems like a nice person, and little Frankie definitely needs the love.

We probably won’t hear about the Frankenburger for a while. At $330,000 a serving, it will only appeal to the kind of people who can afford Teslas. Even so, it’s never too early to start making room in our lives for this orphan meat, no matter how unappetizing it may be.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon