The Public Eye

printed 02/12/2021

As fond as I am of eating whatever’s available, with the exception of mushrooms, feta cheese, green bean casserole, tofu and anything with a shell that you might see dragging itself across my sidewalk (no matter what it’s called in French), I have my limits.

This would include the newest marvel of modern technology — 3D printed rib-eye steak.

As food production goes, it’s the equivalent of a moon shot, except that it’s a moo shot, I suppose.

I’m not kidding. Just this week the Israeli company, Aleph Farms, revealed that it has actually used a 3D printer to produce a rib-eye from a liquidy solution of cow cells.

At least, I assume it’s a liquidy solution of meat molecules, as I can’t imagine any other way the printer could squirt out the requisite layers of gristle-free, perfectly marbled whatever ready for grilling.

According to the company, its scientists are able to grow steak material, if you will, in the lab from cells extracted from an actual animal.

That means, of course, there will be a herd of black angus cattle wandering somewhere missing a bunch of little meat divots, courtesy of, I guess, a cow poker.

So say goodbye to grass-fed beef at your supermarket counter, and hello to glass-fed beef.

I can see it now, lab coat-wearing scientists sitting around the campfire at night, eating beans and biscuits, and singing Gene Autry songs while guarding the beakers of beef from rustlers.

As would be expected, proponents of this approach contend that printing your rib-less rib-eye is a much more humane way of meeting the consumer demand for red meat than sending hapless herds of Herefords to the House of No Return.

What they fail to recognize, of course, are the millions of little cow cells, looking up at that 3D printer with the little cow cell eyes and going, “NOOOooooooo!”

Still, I’m less inclined to think of the final product as prime rib when it’s fashioned from something that’s more ooze than moos.

I also suspect there may be a marketing problem with the latter, considering that “Half-price Slime Rib Night” just doesn’t sound that attractive.

On the other hand, if this approach catches on, there might be a point in the future where we’ll be able to slip over to Staples, go to the HP printer section and order dinner.

There, amongst the RGB cartridges and CMYK cartridges will be the one for beef lovers who know the lyrics of the 1930s song, “I’m An Old Cowhand.” That would be the Yippee Ki Yay cartridge.

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