Over the weekend, some of us learned that a Japanese scientist has figured out how to make steak from feces. Commissioned by Tokyo Sewage, Okayama Laboratory scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda can extract protein from feces, run it through a reaction enhancer and something fairly sci-fi sounding called an “exploder,” swaddle it in steak sauce, and present hungry diners with a patty one might readily mistake for meat. The problem is, people think it's gross. They shouldn't.
We're reminded of a party at an art collective we once attended. Dapper in a tux, his nose yanked by an invisible string up to the ceiling, one of the artists floated around the room hoisting a tray of foaming champagne flutes and what appeared to be a gold-plated lump of shit. Attendees took glasses and sipped tentatively. “I smell something,” someone gasped. “They put something in it,” said another. The champagne was fine, but few could shake the association.
The meat doesn't taste or smell bad either. Or so we've heard. The real problem with this rank Franken-meat is not its provenance but the fact that, as of now, it costs more to produce than real meat from a cow. Should Ikeda trim production costs though, fast food corporations might take a long, hard look. Maybe in time the demand for cheap meat will override the aversion, especially when sustainability becomes more of a widely acknowledged necessity.
Or we could just eat veggie burgers.