News alert to Southern Boone students: The infamous Chicken Patty Wednesday, a staple of the school lunch menu, could be taking on a whole new taste.
Or, maybe not. You be the judge.
The news from San Francisco’s Memphis Meats, Inc. is that they claim they have created the world’s first chicken strips grown from self-reproducing cells without so much as ruffling a feather.
In other words – a no-chicken chicken strip.
And they say the product “pretty much” tastes like chicken, according to a food writer.
When I sit down to my chicken patty, chicken strip, Chik-fil-A buffalo chicken sandwich, I don’t want it to “pretty much” taste like chicken. I want it to say “cluck-cluck” just before it is fried, grilled, broiled or whatever else you can do to a chicken.
Just what in the name of Colonel Sanders is going on here?
It is called “clean met” and it is a movement in California and the Netherlands in which companies develop techniques that would help the food industry avoid the costs of grain, water and waste-disposal associated with livestock.
Scientists and animal-welfare activists believe the new product could help to revolutionize the roughly $200 billion U.S. meat industry. The goal is simple – replace billions of cattle, hogs, and chickens with animal meat they say can be grown more efficiently and humanely in stainless-steel bioreactor tanks.
Sure, my first reaction is: Yeeeeeyikes! I’m not eating nothing grown in a “stainless-steel bioreactor tank.
But, on second thought, I think this movement needs to continue to grow.
Scientists from these companies have already produced beef, grown from bovine cells and made into a burger. But March’s chicken announcement was something totally new and Tyson Foods has taken notice. Hormel has also said the progress on research into the cultured-meat technology is “a good longterm proposition.” Chicken is the most popular protein in the U.S., with consumers eating an average of 90-lbs. of chicken apiece in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. World-wide, there are about 61 billion chickens raised for meat annually.
But I am rooting for ‘bioreactor chicken’ to become popular for the simple reason that it will drive me right to Alan Helland at Blue Fox Farms just west of Ashland. Helland and his family raise meat chickens and, I’m told, they taste like the chickens you ate when you were a kid.
Artificial meat might have fewer moo cows needing to look for a way to escape, as they did last week in St. Louis – if you haven’t seen the video, please go to YouTube, everyone deserves a laugh – and fewer cattle roundups in Montana.
But the future popularity of Bioreactor Beef will send me straight to Show Me Farms and their healthy omega 3 beef. Jerome Grethen will produce me all the tasty roasts and steaks I can devour.
Chicken patty Wednesday might change to bioreactor chicken, but I hope not.
I hope we have more locally-grown food – a movement of our own that has been working in the school cafeterias as well as my own kitchen – which is as responsible as it is tasty.