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Question of the Month

The Good Food Institute, a food industry nonprofit that promotes plant-based and “clean” alternatives to animal agriculture, is trying to rebrand lab-grown meat as “clean food.” This shouldn’t be confused with “clean eating” in the Paltrowesque-Goop kind of way, which is how most of us understand it.

In the company’s words, “clean meat” is a “more accurate way of describing real meat grown without animal slaughter. Second, ‘clean meat’ is similar to ‘clean energy’ in that it immediately communicates important aspects of the technology—both the environmental benefits and the decrease in food-borne pathogens and drug residues.”

This is not a plant-based meat substitute; it’s the real deal—actual meat grown in a petri dish from cultured protein strands. The in vitro work on this food technology has been advancing quickly, with some experts projecting that mass production of lab-grown meat could happen as early as 2020.

Weighing all aspects of this—the environment, animal welfare, food safety, the challenge of feeding the expanding world population, the estimated $27-per-pound cost of this product—and the sheer strangeness of the concept, how likely would you be to welcome “clean food” like this on your plate? If you are vegan or vegetarian for animal welfare reasons, would you try this, knowing that no animals were harmed?

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