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The taste of tomorrow?

What is being billed as the world’s first (and most expensive) cultured hamburger patty debuted in London today, NPR reports. And the project’s anonymous funder was unveiled, too. It’s Google’s Sergei Brin.

The unveiling of “cultured beef,” as the burger is branded, was a production worthy of the Food Network era, complete with chatty host, live-streamed video, hand-picked taste testers, a top London chef and an eager audience (made up mostly of journalists). Rarely has a single food gotten such star treatment.

But this was no ordinary food launch, of course. The burger, which began as just a few stem cells extracted from a cow’s shoulder, represents a technology potentially so disruptive that it has attracted the support of Google co-founder Sergei Brin.

“Sometimes a new technology comes along and it has the capability to transform how we view the world,” Brin says in a promotional video released Monday, the same day he was unmasked as the anonymous donor who ponied up money to grow the burger.

Cultured Beef is not the first company to culture meat. Missouri’s Modern Meadow (which is backed by PayPal’s Peter Thiel) is working on lab-grown meat and leather and already produced a tiny pork chop. Check out my interview with CEO Andras Forgacs on Google+ here.

Assuming the price came down, would you eat a lab-grown burger?  Is it more or less off-putting than the current state of industrially raised beef?

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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