Start-up company produces chicken meat without raising chickens

The new process uses self-reproducing cells to take the actual animal out of the equation

We eat a lot of chicken, but it takes a lot of chicken feed to raise all those birds and a lot of money to butcher them and clean up all the waste that's left behind. It doesn't do much for the chickens either.

A San Francisco area food technology firm may have the answer: Memphis Meats is producing chicken strips from self-reproducing cells. Call it Frankenchicken if you want, but it could be the beginning of the "clean meat" movement.

The company unveiled its product this week and offered tastings of chicken and duck produced solely from cells. Those who sampled the wares found them tasty and said they'd eat them again, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The procedures used to produce the chicken strips could, in time, also be used to make beef, pork and other meats while bypassing the animal stage. This is something that has great appeal to financial types as well as environmentalists and, presumably, animal rights advocates.

Eliminating all those cattle, hogs and chickens would free up a lot of land now used for grazing, eliminate damaging runoffs, and greatly reduce processing and transportation costs. It would also eliminate many of the health threats and antibiotic overuse that are a consequence of factory farming.

There is still the existential question of whether it's better for an animal to be butchered after a short and perhaps bestial existence or never to be born at all, but that is, as the saying has it, above our pay grade. It would perhaps be some comfort to those upset by recent reports that chickens are not as dumb as they look. 

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