Sunday, November 22, 2020

Ouroboros Steaks: Cannibalism Or Sustainable Meat Source?


              The London-based Design Museum has nominated the “Ouroboros Steak” as its design of the year. What is the “Ouroboros Steak” you ask? It is steak made from human cells and expired donated blood. The human steak kits were created by scientist Andrew Pelling and artists Orkan Telhan and Grace Knight. The trio were commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an exhibit in 2019, and have stated that the exhibit was created in critical response to the burgeoning lab-grown meat industry, which is reliant upon fetal bovine serum, derived from the blood of calf fetuses.

              Pelling told Dezeen Magazine, “As the lab-grown meat industry is developing rapidly, it is important to develop designs that expose some of its underlying constraints in order to see beyond the hype.” Knight noted, “Expired human blood is a waste material in the medical system and is cheaper and more sustainable than FBS, but culturally less accepted.” Gee, I wonder why.

              The “Ouroboros Steak” is named after the ancient alchemic symbol of a snake eating its own tail, and could be “grown” in about three months from cells taken from inside a human’s cheek. Creeped out yet? Unsure of the ethics behind the potential new food source? Not to worry, its makers/designers say that partaking of these human steaks would not “technically” be cannibalism. After all, cannibalism is consuming another individual of your species, not just something you grew from your own body.

              Telhan noted, “We are not promoting ‘eating ourselves’ as a realistic solution that will fix humans’ protein needs. We rather ask a question: what would be the sacrifices we need to make to be able to keep consuming meat at the pace that we are? In the future, who will be able to afford animal meat and who may have no other option than culturing meat from themselves?” Who indeed? A lovely topic on which to ruminate, no?

              According to Fox News, the product’s website states, “Growing yourself ensures that you and your loved ones always know the origin of your food, how it has been raised, and that its cells were acquired ethically and consensually.”

              The Design Museum website notes, “Ouroboros Steak is a DIY meal kit for growing gourmet steaks from one’s own cells. It comes as a starter kit of tools, ingredients and instructions that enable users to culture their own cells into mini steaks, without causing harm to animals.”

              This seems to be the perfect product for these times. A surefire winner for 2020. Stay in your own home and eat yourself. “Umm, boy, that’s tasty! Wonder what goes good with me?” Governor’s Newsome, Whitmer, Brown, Walz, Wolf, Cuomo, et. al., would be so proud!

              If the aforementioned governors ever release their citizens from their endless lockdowns, I predict that an Ouroboros Steakhouse restaurant chain will be launched. Instead of BYOB, “bring your own booze,” it will be BYOS, or “bring your own steak.”  

I can already picture the branding and promotional material. “Ouroboros Steakhouse is Youroboros Steakhouse. Because you’ve got a steak in this, too!”

              Or perhaps, “Ouroboros Steakhouse…because it’s hard to beat your own meat!”




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