Juicy Insight into the Powerful Perks of Lab-Grown Meat

“Are you staying for dinner?” my sister-in-law asks me, stirring a pot in the kitchen. It was rolling into dinnertime. Getting dark. TV lights were getting brighter. Everyone was coming together. The smells. It was all kind of disgusting, actually. At least to me. I’d been reading a lot about lab-grown meats lately, and the smell of meat being cooked anyplace was starting to make me a little queasy. “Why are you making that face?” she says, passing me.

“Yeah, don’t hate it ‘til you try it,” my brother says.  “Then you can hate it.  But try it.  Then hate it,” he mumbles.

“Sorry, no, it’s…something else,” I said to her.  “It ain’t that.  I’ll stay.”

“How do you know he hasn’t tried it?” my niece says to my brother.  “He can smell it.”

“’Cause I don’t think he’s been over five days a week yet…non-consecutively, for dinner.”

“Are you saying I cook the same thing over and over again?” my sister-in-law says.  “Do I?”

“Noooo,” my brother says.  “But the, uh, Illinois prison system called.  Said they wanted some serving advice for their cafeteria.  Said they didn’t think it was rigid enough.”

“What’s so rigid about my cooking?” she says.

“If this was biblical times, the chicken would’ve never made it to Noah’s ark,” he says.

“I thought you liked chicken!” she says.

“You should just get a bioreactor,” I said, “if all you want to eat is chicken every day for the rest of your life. Might as well manufacture the stuff yourself. Maybe reduce your chances of catching salmonella, E. coli, avian influenza, MERS, or some other kind of f—ing coronavirus over the course of your life.”

“Nuh-uh!” my sister-in-law says.  “I make vegetables and stuff.  Corn.  What’s a bioreactor?”

“It’s like a beer vat.  Only with animal cultures in it.”

“You mean like…finishing school?” my brother says.

Cultures,” my niece says.

“Oh,” he says.

“Could we fit one of those in here?” my sister-in-law says.

“Sure,” I said.  “I mean, you’d probably need a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering to operate it.”

My brother turns to my niece. “Lorie. Biochemical engineering. Ph.D.”

“On it,” she says, staring at the TV.

“So, how does it work?” my sister-in-law asks.

Simple,” I say. “You take the cells, put them in the thing, add some amino acid, wait, then it’s set to pop. Process it on down the line, and boom! You’re pounding your meat like a pro.”

“I don’t know,” my sister-in-law says. “Doesn’t the whole thing seem a little too…I don’t know. Weird?”

“I mean, you’re eating eggs anyway. What are eggs but cells, right? Only this time, it’s like the egg grew up inside a machine into some kind of shapeless, godless, unverifiably lifeless blob without eyes or legs or a brain or anything like that.”

“Like that one guy, who was president?” my brother says.

“Which one?” my niece says. 

“The USDA just gave it their approval, just recently,” I said.  “The FDA did it…uhh…last year, sometime.”

“Ooh, then maybe we should invest,” my sister-in-law says to my brother.

Is it halal?” my brother suddenly says, looking at the TV.  We all look at him.

“No, it’s not halal,” I said.  “Not according to Indonesia, anyway.”

“So, it’s haram,” he says.  We look at him.

“It depends,” I said. “Unless you wanna pull the original cells from feathers. Or wool. Which doesn’t come from a chicken, by the way.”

“Wow. Somehow, that’s…even more disgusting,” my sister-in-law says.

“Than what, the inside of a slaughterhouse?” I said.  “Plus, you do know where eggs come from, right?”

“Eating animals is never not disgusting,” my niece says.  “’If taints and butts were but candy and nuts…’”

“If you took the original—,” I looked at her, then went on, “if you took the original cells from a properly slaughtered animal, they say it could be halal,” I said. “Same thing for kosher. One slaughtered animal could make like 80,000 manufactured burgers. I think.”

“That’s a lot,” my brother says.  “Of type 2 diabetes, I mean.”

“I mean, the whole thing sounds great. For the environment, for the animals,” my sister-in-law says. “As long as you don’t think about it too much.”

“Yeah, that’s what everyone keeps saying,” I griped.  “I haven’t read a single negative thing about it, in all the press it’s been getting.”

“All right,” my brother sighs, “let’s hear it.

“Fine, you want to know what’s wrong with it?” I say.  “No one knows what it’s gonna do to the human body over time, if people keep eating the stuff.”

“But you said they approved it,” my brother says.

“Yeah.  And you know what else they’ve approved?  E-cigarettes.  Flame retardants in foodForever chemicals in food packagingBovine growth hormonesIn food.  F—ing baby shark toys.  And look what’s happening with that.”

“What’s happening with that?” he says.

“Little kids are getting their eyes gouged out, and trying to stick the things up their butts and what have you.”

“Nuh-uh,” my niece says.

“Really?” my brother says.

“I don’t know.  But seven and a half million of them got recalled because it turns out they make better maritime weapons than toys.”

“Eh, people gotta learn how to…inflict physical and emotional damage on each other somehow,” my brother shrugged. “Better to start young.”

“Good luck with no eyeballs,” my niece says.

“And a baby shark toy lodged in your rectum,” I said.