(JTA) — When the world’s first lab-grown burger taste-tested on Monday, the event seemed full of promise for environmentalists, animal lovers and vegetarians.
Another group that had good reason to be excited? Kosher consumers.
The world’s first in-vitro burger, made using stem cells and soaked in a nutrient broth that might make Upton Sinclair shudder, was triumphantly declared “close to meat” by two taste-testers in London. Five years in the making, the meat patties were essentially an “animal protein cake”, according to one taster.
The burger was created by harvesting stem cells from a portion of cow shoulder muscle that were multiplied in petri dishes to form tiny strips of muscle fiber. About 20,000 of the strips were needed to create the five-ounce burger, which was financed partially by Google founder Sergey Brin and unveiled by Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
PETA hailed the event as a “first step” toward humanely producing meat products. A University of Amsterdam study shows that lab-grown meat could significantly reduce the environmental impact of beef production.
Keeping kosher my whole life has limited much of my culinary knowledge. I have this feeling sometimes, especially when I am looking up a new recipe or watching a cooking show, that I am missing something, that I have been cheated in some way. I never knew that split pea soup was supposed to have a hambone in it. Or that lasagna, as a default, is made with meat instead of vegetables. And worst of all, I have never tasted that ultimate non-kosher American delicacy, the cheeseburger.
Let me be clear: I don’t feel that I am missing out on the secret world that is bacon, nor do I have a desire to eat octopus or crocodile. But the concept of mixing milchigs with fleishigs (that is, dairy with meat) is incredibly enticing. Cheese is good; meat is good; why not mix them? I mean, other than the thousands of years of tradition, which I do my best to follow. I often joke that if I were to ever really break kashrut, it would be on turkey and Swiss, which is not even biblically treyf.