Live Well
June 2013

Did Your Dinner Come From a Laboratory?

I recently read an article about cultured meat. Scientists in the Netherlands have developed ways to create beef in a laboratory from actual animal tissue. It is interesting to note that it is now possible to create an entire meal in a science lab — from meat, to grains and even some vegetables. I wonder about the health implications of this meat on humans.

The goal in creating cultured meat is to meet increasing demand for meat from developing countries that is coming at great cost to the environment. According to the article, “A 2011 study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, for example, showed that full-scale production of cultured meat could greatly reduce water, land and energy use, and emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases, compared with conventional raising and slaughtering of cattle or other livestock. While I understand the rationale for finding ways to minimize our impact on the environment, I don’t necessarily think that engineered foods are the solution.

The problem with scientifically engineered foods is that one doesn’t really know how we will react to them. In many cases, hybridized and engineered foods create new proteins that our bodies don’t recognize and can’t digest properly, resulting in allergies and food sensitivities. For instance, wheat has been hybridized to such an extent that it now contains 50% more gluten than it did 50-60 years ago. This might explain why we are seeing increases in sensitivities or allergies to wheat and/or gluten. Research is also showing that genetically modified foods (typically corn, wheat and soy but also vegetables and fruit) are the cause of increasing allergies in children, including asthma. I wonder whether the researchers creating the meat in a lab are considering the effects of this product on our bodies.

I think that the answer to the degradation of the environment due to farming is to focus on less intensive, more sustainable farming methods that do not deplete the soil or release unhealthy gases. And, while a vegetarian diet is not necessarily suited to everyone, incorporating a plant-based diet and consuming all things in moderation is healthier for all of us.






Moroccan cuisine is my favorite cuisine because of the way it incorporates sweet and savory flavors. I had the opportunity to travel to Marrakech with a friend last March and enjoyed sampling a wide variety of Moroccan dishes. I particularly too pleasure in the multitude of scents and flavors that are incorporated into the foods they cook. One of the dishes that I enjoyed was a Zucchini Salad that was typically served mezze-style with other vegetable salads. Read More




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