“Test Tube" Burger Provides Meatless Alternative
Latest effort to satisfy taste for meat without killing animals
March 12, 2012
Paying 0,000 for a hamburger might seem like a lot, but that's what it cost for scientists in the Netherlands to prove it's possible to make a meat-like (a) pattie from a cluster of muscle cells.
At the University of Maastricht, Mark Post and his team started with a muscle biopsy from a cow and are now (b) culturing clumps of muscle-tissue cells in (c) Petri dishes.
"We have committed ourselves to make a couple thousand of these small tissues and then assemble them into a hamburger," Post says.
The Dutch are among the most advanced of several teams around the world trying to produce meat without killing animals. Post wants to demonstrate that the world's rising appetite for meat can be satisfied in a more efficient and environmentally benign way.
"It's a combination of two things, care for environment and food production for the world," he says. "And second is just a generic interest in life-transforming technologies."
Post still has to prove his Petri-patties can be (d) cost-effective and flavorful. He hopes there's an appetite among consumers lured by claims such as "no animal has suffered to make this product."
But a test tube burger?
The idea is totally unappealing to Seth Tibbott of Hood River, Oregon. "I think it sounds still pretty disgusting to me."
To be fair, Tibbott is a biased source. The vegan entrepreneur founded Turtle Island Foods, the maker of a popular vegetarian brand called Tofurky, tofu processed to taste like turkey.
Tibbott's son-in-law and vice president says mimicking the fiber and texture of poultry is the hardest thing to do with processed soybeans.
Jaime Athos says it's a worthwhile pursuit, but, "Making little (e) incremental improvements in the product quality is really the way you achieve that. Maybe there's going to be a leap forward sometime, but I don't see it yet on the near horizon."
The folks at Turtle Island Foods estimate about three percent of the U.S. population is vegetarian, and they don't necessarily want fake meat that is authentic-tasting.
Tibbott sees a much bigger market among mainstream consumers. These people might try meatless alternatives if those products looked and tasted more like real meat.
"In the industry, they're called flexi-tarians or they're called 'sometimes vegetarians,'" Tibbott says. "Depending on what study you look at, they're 30 to 40 percent of America."
Out Tibbott's office window, he can watch contractors build a new Tofurky factory along the Columbia River. It will allow the fast-growing company to triple its production starting next year.
Meanwhile, several competing and secretive start ups are promising breakthrough meat substitutes. One is a fake chicken made of soy that its developer says not only tastes like chicken, but also has the same look and texture.
Stanford University professor Patrick Brown founded a different company, Sand Hill Foods, where his food scientists (f) manipulate plant proteins and oils in an (g) undisclosed process.
Brown's theory is that economies of scale and price are the keys to winning over meat lovers.
"What we're intending to do is basically produce stuff that will compete by being (h) substantially cheaper and every bit as good and essentially (i) indistinguishable to a consumer who loves meat or dairy," says Brown. "That's the only way I think you're really going to win in the market."
Brown recently gave a talk in Vancouver, Canada where he portrayed the livestock industry as "a (j) sitting duck for disruptive technology."
The director of the Washington Cattlemen's Association responds that it’s the fake meat entrepreneurs who are more likely to face a rocky road with consumers.
Jack Field says he's confident "real beef will be what's for dinner now and into the future."
I. Vocabulary Match
There are ten words in bold-face in the article above. Guess their meanings, and match them with the definitions below.
1. ____: a small clear dish with a cover which is used by scientists, especially for
2. ____: happening gradually over time
3. ____: to work with something skillfully to achieve the result that you want
4. ____: a person or thing that is easy to attack
5. ____: large in amount or number
6. ____: to grow bacteria or cells for medical or scientific use
7. ____: small, flat pieces of cooked meat or other food
8. ____: bringing the best possible profits or advantages for the lowest possible costs
9. ____: not made known or told to anyone
10. ____: impossible to see any differences between two things
II. Reading Comprehension
11. Which ingredient of fake meat is NOT mentioned in the article?
B. Muscle cells from cows
C. Plant proteins and oils
12. What is NOT true about Mark Post?
A. He works with a team to produce fake hamburger meat.
B. He takes part in making fake meat because he is interested in technologies that
C. He takes part in making fake meat because he wants to protect the environment.
D. Post and his team succeeded in making fake meat with a moderate amount of
13. What is Seth Tibbott’s opinion of fake meat?
A. He thinks fake meat is disgusting and has no market.
B. He thinks more people will try a meatless diet if meatless products look and taste
more like meat.
C. He thinks when it comes to producing fake meat, gradual improvements are more
likely than big leaps.
D. He thinks meat will still be a major part of the American diet.
14. What is true about Turtle Island Foods?
A. It is a fast-growing company.
B. It targets vegetarians exclusively.
C. It sells fake chicken meat produced from soybeans.
D. It produces food by manipulating plant oils and proteins.
15. What is NOT true about Patrick Brown?
A. He is a professor.
B. He is the founder of a company.
C. He thinks the meat industry will continue to be strong.
D. He thinks fake meat needs to be cheap to be compatible in the market.
1. c 2. e 3. f 4. j 5. h 6. b 7. a 8. d 9. g 10. i
11. D 12. D 13. B 14. A 15. C