What exactly is in the first stem cell burger? Here’s the imagined recipe based on the information provided from the burger’s creator:
Stem Cell Burger Recipe
- 20,000 meat strands grown from satellite stem cells* from cow’s muscle cells
- Breadcrumbs, up to ½ cup
- Egg powder, 2 tablespoons
- Beetroot, 1 tablespoon
- Saffron, a pinch
- Cilantro, ¼ cup
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon
- Butter, 1 teaspoon
(*You can use satellite stem cells from any animal. Lion burgers are also being considered and penguin burgers have been ruled out due to their taste.)
(Stem cell part of the recipe)
- In the laboratory, prepare your culture dishes with the growth factors you’ll need to grow stem cells. You’ll need your laboratory team to insure that the selection of these is absolutely perfect.
- Next, prepare the veterinary team with the necessary tools to secure the stem cell sample from the cow. The muscle and fat cells are separated. The fat cells are discarded; the satellite stem cells (muscle cell) is kept.
- Add the satellite stem cells to the cultures. One muscle cell will become one trillion muscle cells. The cells merge to form myotubes. The myotubes are placed around a hub of gel in a ring. They grow into muscle tissue.
- Incubate for three weeks.
- Return back to the lab to find millions of stem cells growing in your culture dishes. Strain the new growth by separating small amounts from the large batches to grow in smaller dishes. The goal here is to get enough bite-sized strips that simulate strips of beef that are cubes about an inch wide and a few millimeters high. Add the stem cell cubes to trays that may be stacked on top of each other in the freezer. Freeze until future use.
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(Burger part of the recipe)
- Defrost the stem cell cubes; then dice them. Add them to a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the egg powder, breadcrumbs, saffron, cilantro, and beetroot and mix.
- If the color of the mix isn’t red enough, add more beetroot. Mix.
- Next add water to obtain a burger mix consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix.
- Form into the shape of a burger.
- In a frying pan, add sunflower oil and butter. Heat on low for a minute. Then add burger. Cook 5-8 minutes per side with the flame on medium high. Marinate with the pan juices during the cooking process.
- Serve with a bun and all the usual burger fixings.
For a news report on the stem cell burger, see this video:
The coloring is needed in this recipe because stem cells are pasty in color. The stem cell burger turns brown like a regular burger – but the butter added to the pain for cooking may contribute to the browning quite a bit.
When the stem cell burger was cooked up in London, it didn’t send out any type of inviting food aroma like what you get at In & Out Burger, at a BBQ party, or in your own kitchen when Mom is cooking a burger dinner.
Check out this video on the results of the taste-testing of the stem cell video:
Why Are They Even Doing This?
Creators of the stem cell burger have a big concept of the purpose of the burger. They say the goal is to be able to feed people meat in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
A growing fraction of people in the world believe that the world will reach a point where the number of cows and other animals used for meat will not meet the demand. That point in time is thought to be 2050. So some scientists have taken up the mission to develop other sources of protein.
Certainly we’ve seen the soy generation – another attempt to provide a meat alternative – so we can understand the concept here. However, soy never did live up to its expectations. Is it realistic to think that the stem cell burger will live up to its expectations?
The burger is non-GMO in the sense that genetic modification does not occur in the laboratory creating it. However, the genetic breeding of the cow used for the burger is still an unanswered question.
Two journalists at the event tasted the burger and said it was crunchier than expected. It lacked fat – and thus palatability was not there. Fat makes recipes palatable. The taste was more subtle than a regular burger.
The stem cell burger is not for everyone, said one of the professors that was on the development team. “They should remain vegetarians; that’s even better for the environment.”
The stem cell burger is still a long time away from being marketed commercially. In order to do that, the company will have to prove safety. In order to call it a ‘burger’ and not be misleading, they would have to prove that it had similar nutrient levels as a regular beef burger.
The Future of Meat
Will the stem cell burger be considered another Frankenfood? Before you answer that question, you should know that scientists are already trying to use the same process for creating chicken and fish protein. If it’s grown in the lab, then will it be ‘good enough’ for a vegetarian to consider? After all, vegetarians can count on becoming deficient in vitamin B12, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals within a few years as a result of their dietary choices. Meat provides nutrients that are not easily attainable in plant foods.
But the fact remains that the stem cell burger was created in the laboratory. And that’s the definition of Frankenfoods. The original design included fat and muscle cells together but man thought he knew better and discarded the fat. That’s why the stem cell burger lacks fat – and no one yet knows the meaning of this or the safety of it when the stem cell burger is consumed.
If history was going to repeat itself, then there will be potential problems. Many of the problems related to abnormal hormone levels in men and women are due to a lack of fat in the diet. What will happen if a whole generation eats ‘stem cell burgers’?
Perhaps the real stem cell burgers are burgers that can be created which nourish our present numbers of stem cells inside our body. The research to back this is already out there.
Recently there was a TED talk with Andras Forgacs on tissue engineering, which uses the same type of thinking used in the creation of the world’s first stem cell burger. He discusses how leather could be grown in the lab from one cell type. The process is called biofabrication.
Growing leather starts from cells from an animal (skin cells). The cells are grown to multiply their numbers. The cells and their collagen are then grown in sheets and the sheets are layered into ‘skin’ called leather. The leather is grown in the shape of a car seat, wallet, or any other shape. It’s hairless and has no scars. You can grow the leather in different layer numbers, making it more opaque or less opaque.
Check it out and see what you think!