World's First Lab-Grown Burger Unveiled, Eaten

A small bite for man, a giant leap for burgers.

A lab-grown hamburger patty that cost $300,000 to make was unveiled in London Monday, at a press conference dedicated to said burger. A Netherlands scientist had spent two years painstakingly growing it, so we can't imagine how he felt when two culinary experts just went ahead and ate it.

The creation was largely funded by Google co-founder and Google Glass creator Sergey Brin. He's hoping that lab-grown burgers will be "transformative," and can lessen the damaging effects of the meat industry — for example, cut down on the huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions courtesy of meat-creating.

Scientist Mark Post took stem cells from cows in the Netherlands and arranged them atop one another, layer by layer, to form actual cow muscle. It takes 20,000 tiny slivers of stem cells to create a single burger — nil carbon emissions, which is good.

According to the UN, the meat industry at present generates more greenhouse gas emissions than any form of transport. Post says that, eventually, one stem-cell sample could be enough to grow hundreds of thousands of burger patties.

Food writers and researchers Josh Schonwald and Hanni Rutzler bit into the burgers in front of a roomful of press. Rutzler declared:

There is quite some intense flavor. The look was quite similar to meat. It has quite a bite. The surface of the meat was crunchy — surprisingly. The taste itself was as juicy as meat can be, but different. It tastes like meat, not a meat-substitute like soya or whatever.

Schonwald was a little less gushing:

There is a leanness to it. The absence of fat is what makes it taste different. I would say it is somewhere on the spectrum between a Boca Burger and McDonald's.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images News/Getty Images

And now you, too, are hungry — albeit confusingly — for stem-cell burgers.