Concerned about fake meat? You’re not alone

Other businesses are also dealing with the trend toward fake products. Will another Star Trek prediction come to pass?

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

November 21, 2018

2 Min Read
Concerned about fake meat? You’re not alone
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We have, over the past several years, made reference to the things we saw in Star Trek as kids turning into reality as adults, tablets and smart phones among them. But remember how they got their food? Capt. James T. Kirk told the computer what he wanted and it was made on the spot, like a 3-D printer on Star Trek steroids.

That brings me to the point of this blog, which is fake…well, lots of things.

Among the articles in a Wall Street Journal publication titled The Future of Everything is an explanation of how not just fake meat, but how fake bourbon and scotch, as well as fake diamonds, can be made—all in a laboratory, all from lab-based molecules.

Think distillers and jewelers aren’t worried?

READ: We would sell more beef if consumers knew its health benefits

Articles detail how De Beers is selling lab-grown diamond jewelry and significantly undercutting its competitors. Speaking personally, this is an interesting trend, viewed from a safe distance. The last diamond I bought my wife is on her left hand. I have purchased cubic zirconium jewelry—once. She could tell the difference right away and it only cemented her realization that she married a cheap…skate.

Roses now, that’s another story. Roses are wonderful things for a married man, but they can be pricy. I have no doubt that fake, lab-grown flowers are on the horizon. We’ll see how discerning she is then.

Then there’s bourbon and other distilled spirits. I enjoy an occasional sundowner, as I’m sure many of you do. Will lab-grown bourbon be as good as the good stuff aged in a wooden barrel? Time will tell, but I’m skeptical. And even if it is, I’ll still drink the real stuff rather than capitulate to what once was science fiction.

READ: Will you be ranching like the Jetsons in 10 years?

Which brings me to fake meat. While you and I will likely stand on principle and spend our money on the real stuff, will others? Low price generally wins and I might be tempted to weaken, like with roses.

So, too, will our consumers, at least some of them. But with beef in particular, taste, quality and the total eating experience have surpassed price for many of our consumers. Call it Frankenfood, Petri-dish protein or any number of things, but here’s the question: Will fake, lab-grown beef be able to compete? I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.

The times, they are a’changin. If real beef, produced by real beef producers, is to remain relevant to our consumers, we’ll need to stop fighting amongst ourselves and step up to the real issues facing us. Maybe we need to sit down with the distillers over a real drink and a real steak and start strategizing.


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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