Experimental dinner investigated meat culture

On 14 December 2013 a special dinner was organized at the Waag: The Other Dinner, an experimental and interactive dinner that investigated the meat culture of the past, the present and the future.

We took an example from our neighbors: we prepared and ate parts of the pig, cow, chicken or sheep that are normally intended for export or animal feed. And we grew cells of cultured meat during a DIY bio workshop.

Strange meat

Did our parents not inform us, is the preparation too complicated or are we just picky and spoiled? Most of us have never eaten a leg, ear, heart or brain lobe. What is groundbreaking here - eating the whole animal - is perfectly normal in e.g. France, Italy and the Philippines. After World War II, the role of food changed considerably in the Netherlands. Thanks to an ever-growing economy and advancing innovation in the biotechnology industry the Dutch had the luxury to choose which parts of the animal were eaten or not. The "strange" parts disappeared from the shelves. Nowadays it is often impossible to order all parts of a chicken, pig or cow. Plus, we eat only a few types of animals.

Nature/nurture

Looking at a future in which in vitro meat plays a role, now seems a good time to reflect on the current food culture. We produce animal protein in a lab to prevent a possible future shortage while we do not even use all parts of the animal in the Netherlands. And we only culture bovine muscle tissue while the current variation in meat consumption already is small compared to other countries.

Also read: In Vitro Meat Cookbook in development

How do we actually know so sure we find everything we've never eaten disgusting? Does no one  wonder why we do not eat certain meats? Should we make the meat production even more unnatural than is is now with genetically engineered cattle? Culture and society determine what is eaten and purchased in any country.

Photos on Flickr

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