Would You Eat Steak From a Printer?

(Photo: Cea)

We’ve talked before about one possible future of food production: food printers.  Andras Forgacs is the CEO of a company called Modern Meadow, which is working on printing leather and meat products. He recently took questions on reddit.com; here’s his take on his company’s progress with replicating hamburger and steak:

Real steak is a big stretch. It won’t be the first product since steak is very hard to make for now. Instead, the first wave of meat products to be made with this approach will likely be minced meats (burgers, sausages, etc.) and pates (goose liver pate, etc.). Also seafood is an early possibility since the texture requires may be easier to achieve than premium cuts.

While I doubt anyone will make commercial quantities of premium steak within 10 years, we will eventually get there but it will be an Nth generation product.

And here’s an interesting talk Forgacs gave on the technology:

(HT: Daily Dish)

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  1. Nat says:

    Proving that Malthus was wrong again and again.

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    • James says:

      How? Given that the technology might work, exactly where are the raw materials coming from?

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      • Beppo says:

        as shown in the video… you make something comparable to a biopsy to isolate some cells you need for the process. Then you put these cells in a growth serum to get them to replicate again and again. Means one biopsy for more or less an endless amount of cells for further production.
        It’s almost the same process as cell reproduction for all kinds of sectors within the pharmaceutical industry.

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      • James says:

        Yes, I do understand basic biology. My question is where the raw materials that go into that “growth serum” come from. Cells must have nutrients to grow and divide, whether they’re living in a cow or a test tube.

        It seems that you would likely have to go to a lot of trouble to collect vegetation, grind it up, treat it with acids, enzymes, and perhaps bacterial fermentation to manufacture this growth serum, probably powering the process by burning yet more fossil fuels, and doubtless producing a lot of waste that will need to be disposed of in landfills. But a cow will go out and do all of this all by itself, the waste products are readily recycled as fertilizer, and it may even contribute something to the scenery.

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  2. Fleming says:

    Can we please just call food printers as replicators from here on out.

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    • Phil Persinger says:

      Need some voice-recognition features for that, though “Earl Grey, hot” might overload printer memory for a few Moore Cycles…. hard to keep track of all that Brownian motion.

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    • Seminymous Coward says:

      Replicators are far more general; they can make quite complicated mechanical objects, e.g. rifles. The original series had food synthesizers, which only made meals. If you like the terminology, there’s no reason to confuse it.

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  3. pawnman says:

    I’m in.

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  4. tung bo says:

    Printed food would be great. We can become vegetarians while still eating meat. Ultimately we can get rid of animal husbandry and killing for food and possibly reduce impact on the environment. Current methods to create meat from grains is very inefficient. We should explore all paths to create more attractive proteins efficiently.

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    • James says:

      I dunno… When it comes down to me depending on a food source, I think I’d rather rely on something that’s undergone a billion years or so of evolutionary development.

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      • Bob says:

        Eh, I don’t care much for a billion years of evolutionary development. A decade of product testing would do it for me.

        The human mind is a billion times faster than evolution at creating. Why wait?

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  5. Bob says:

    If you just asked me straight, “Would you eat steak from a printer?”, I would respond “No, who would want to eat something disgusting like that?” Then, I read the quote where Forgacs says the first products will likely be burgers and sausages. After some thinking, I realize I willingly eat McDonalds burgers already, willingly eat hot dogs already, and honestly that is some of the lowest quality meat around. So if I were asked if I would eat hamburgers from a printer, I would say, “Yes, can’t be much worse than fast food burgers anyway.”

    Printed burgers might even be better than fast food burgers anyway. The machine will always get it right and it won’t overcook it because it’s too tired or hates its dead-end job (at least while it doesn’t have an AI).

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  6. Gunga says:

    Naturally, these “food printers” will be manufactured under the strictest controls of the Soylent Corporation…

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  7. Matt says:

    Overwhelming to think how much suffering will be prevented when people eat animal-free meat!

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