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Crowdfunding an in vitro meat cookbook


Eindhoven's Next Nature Lab is running an IndiegOgO fundraiser for a "Meat the Future Cookbook" -- a piece of design fiction setting out recipes we might be able to prepare when in vitro meat-growth is the norm. There's meat grown from your own flesh, cultured in a medallion you wear around your neck while it matures; rainbow meatballs, meat that you knit, meat-paint that kids use to paint edible pictures, meat cultured from samples of extinct dodos and dinos, and transparent meat "sushi."

There's four days left, and &eur;25 gets you a copy of the cookbook (&eur;15 for a digital version). Next Nature produces some gorgeous books on these lines, so it's a good bet that Meat the Future will be a lovely little piece.

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An unbiased view of what the meat industry looks like from the inside

Most of the time, when somebody goes undercover inside a meat processing facility, it's done with the express goal of convincing other people to stop eating meat. But that wasn't what journalist Ted Conover had in mind. He was more just curious, especially given the growing trend of state laws preventing undercover infiltration of agribusiness facilities. So, using his real name and address, Conover got a job as a USDA meat inspector at a Cargill plant.

What's fascinating here is that the problems he finds have less to do with animal abuse (Maryn McKenna reports that Conover was surprised to find himself in a clean, safe, humane facility) and more to do with the abuse of antibiotics — a trend that is a major contributor to antibiotic resistance.

You can't read the full story for free, unfortunately. Such is the way of Harpers. But Maryn McKenna has a summary, Conover has a blog post on agribusiness gag laws, and you can buy access to the full story with a Harper's subscription.

Celebrate "Pi Day" by throwing hot dogs down a hallway

No, that's not a euphemism for anything. Buffon's Needle is an 18th-century experiment in probability mathematics and geometry that can be used as a way to calculate pi through random sampling. This WikiHow posting explains how you can recreate Buffon's Needle at home, by playing with your food. Maggie

Scientific American in the late 1800s: eating horse flesh is good for the economy


At the Smithsonian's Smart News blog, a fun post looking at historic debates in America's science media about whether it's okay to eat horse meat, with links to some Scientific American articles from the 1860s and 1870s.

One such article published in 1875, "Shall We Eat The Horse?," argues that "in not utilizing horse flesh as food, we are throwing away a valuable and palatable meat, of which there is sufficient quantity largely to augment our existing aggregate food supply. Supposing that the horse came into use here as food, it can be easily shown that the absolute wealth in the country would thereby be materially increased."

A decade later, SciAm published this piece screengrabbed above, on the shifting cultural norms that made eating horse totally not cool.

U.K. "beef lasagne" made entirely of horse meat

What happens when you wed French suppliers and British standards? "The meat content of some beef lasagne products recalled by Findus was up to 100% horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency has said." [BBC] Rob

Living creatures you can buy from Amazon

Live from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm, these earthworms are just $29.95 for 2lb. And that's only the beginning: there are crickets sold by the thousand, highly expensive snails, delicious gutloaded mealworms, cockroaches and shrimp. (I like the way the word "Live" is placed in quotes for "Live" Lobsters.)

Maker of Pink Slime to close 3 out of 4 plants, fire 650 employees

Beef Products Inc. (BPI), manufacturer of "lean finely textured beef," aka "pink slime," announces it will shut down three of its four plants on May 25. The plants destined for closure are in Amarillo, TX; Garden City, KS; and Waterloo, IA. The one remaining facility is in South Sioux City, NE and will operate at reduced capacity. More than 650 workers will lose their jobs, according to BPI. More at Food Safety News. BPI has a "pro-pink-slime" website here: beefisbeef.com. Xeni

Meat Glue

Filet mignon served in restaurants is often, in fact, an agglomeration of scraps of lesser beef, welded together with Meat Glue. [ABC]

Terje took powder and dusted it liberally over the meat pieces. The coated stew meat then went into a circular tin to give it a nice, round filet mignon shape. He was also able to make a New York strip out of thin cuts of round steak. Adding water makes a soupy glaze, and an easier way to coat the meat.The final steps were to seal the meat in a vacuum bag, adding some pressure to the bond, and then it was off to the fridge to set overnight. Twenty-four hours later, the humble $4-a-pound stew meat now looks like a $25-a-pound prime filet.

Delicious.

Pizza Hut introduces hot-dog stuffed crust Pizza in UK

"For the lucky Brits," as Fox News put it, are 14" pizzas with sausage-stuffed crusts. The Pi of this pie makes for 44" of hot dog. Rob

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Lucky Ducky, in "Tricklin' Down"!

Visit the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, and follow RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER.

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We need to talk about red meat ...

Last week, you probably heard about a study purporting to show that consuming any amount of red meat significantly upped your risk of premature death. If that news has you freaked out, I highly recommend reading Deborah Blum's roundup of high-quality news coverage of this study. Her piece explains what the study does say, what it doesn't say, and why some evidence is better than other evidence. The takeaway: You should probably be reducing the amount of processed meat that you eat (but we already knew that). Maggie

Working Undercover in a Slaughterhouse: an interview with Timothy Pachirat

Timothy Pachirat, Assistant Professor of Politics at The New School for Social Research and the author of Every Twelve Seconds, is not the first to see industrialized violence and political analogues in the slaughterhouse. But rather than write an exposé, he took a job at one to see how it works from the perspective of those who work there. I interviewed him about his experiences on the kill floor.

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Lab-grown meat gets closer to reality

You see that whitish stuff in the petri dish? That, my dears, is lab-grown meat. Meat made without all the physical, environmental, and ethical mess that goes along with raising actual animals for food.

The little tabs on either end of each piece of meat are Velcro, used to stretch and "exercise" the muscle cells that make up this lab meat. (Some earlier attempts at growing meat in the lab failed because, without exercise, muscle tissue isn't something that's particularly palatable.) It's white because there's no blood running through it. And, to create food, you'd have to combine this single layer of muscle tissue with thousands of other layers of muscle and lab-grown fat.

Dutch biologist Mark Post, the man behind the meat, thinks that he can build the world's first lab-grown burger within a year for a cost of $345,000.

You can read the full story in an article by Reuters' Kate Kelland

Image: Francois Lenoir / Reuters

Meat Mix

Between the vintage meat industry infomercial doing the rounds again, @GlennF pointing out that there may be bits of hundreds of cows in a single pack of hamburger, and my longstanding love of this YouTube, I thought a quick tribute to all three was in order.

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Houston hackspace's open-house month, with BBQ!

Calling all Houstonites! The Tx/Rx Labs hackspace is hosting a series of BBQ-infused open houses through the month of March:
What's a Hack-B-Q? Think free B-B-Q with the added bonus of getting to share knowledge with TXRX Members who have expertise in exciting DIY technology projects. And that's just for starters: There are tons of exciting projects in progress and members with expertise in chemistry, electrical engineering, biology, physics, programming, mechanical engineering, and many others, all of whom are interested in sharing that knowledge for the benefit of the community. Oh yeah, and did we mention FREE TI LaunchPad Dev Kits? (while supplies last)
Tx/Rx Labs (Thanks, Rtavk!)