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Scientists Create Meat Out Of Feces

You can’t make this stuff up. Japanese scientists have taken proteins found in human feces and engineered edible, artificial steaks out of it. Of course, as with any fake meat, the steaks — which many claim tastes “just like beef” — are pumped full of artificial food dyes and dangerous soy proteins. Why would you possibly want to eat steaks created out of human excrement?

Oh, it’s the standard arguments. Environmental responsibility! Fewer calories (which somehow equals healthier?)! No more cruelty to animals! Solve the global food crisis!

So, let me get this right. We’re supposed to eat meat made out of our own excrement, meat artificially manufactured in laboratories, rather than simply return to meat raised on pasture?

Excuse me Mr. Scientist, but meat raised on pasture is more environmentally responsible. Grazing animals help increase topsoil, and have demonstrably reversed desertification. Meat animals raised this way get to act according to their natures, and so there is no question of animal cruelty. Pasture-raised meat is also markedly healthier for you, rich in all the right kinds of fats, perfectly balanced to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.

If we are afraid of not having enough meat to “feed the world” or the amount of fossil fuels that go into creating your average 8oz. steak, then shouldn’t we first consider going back to natural, more humane ways of raising meat animals? We could eliminate hundreds of thousands of acres of wasted monoculture crop land, put grazing animals on it, and watch it revert back to prairie grasses. According to this Mother Earth News article, intensive grazing of meat animals will solve our topsoil crisis and help store carbon, reduce dependence on fossil fuel inputs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will dramatically reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production, effectively eliminating the crisis of growing super bugs. And, it will produce healthier meat on a scale that could actually feed the world.

Oh well. Apparently all that’s far too difficult, even though everyone knows the system we currently have is unsustainable. So, instead of using technology to improve the production levels available on intensively grazed pasture, we’re going to use technology to create fake meat out of our own poop.

These scientists are actually proud of themselves. Watch!

ETA: In light of many comments wondering if this news story is a hoax, I’ve written the following response. “Actually, the story has been featured prominently on many major news outlets, including Fox News, Yahoo News, LA Weekly, and The New York Daily News. So, if it’s a total hoax, then these news agencies have a lot to answer for. There is a reporter at Salon.com who is currently attempting to verify the story by contacting the scientist interviewed in the video, who he found working at Okayama UNESCO. That same reporter found various news stories from 1993 that sound similar to this one, but has found no evidence that the story was then (or is now) a hoax. I think the most likely scenario is that this was a legitimate news story back in the 90s, but that these major news outlets have picked it up and recirculated it because the video from this old British TV show recently went viral on YouTube. Guess we’ll wait and see!”

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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47 Responses to Scientists Create Meat Out Of Feces
  1. Gayle Trepanier via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:13 am

    Oh, UGH! That is SO DISGUSTING! I’d rather chew my own arm off.

  2. Gayle Trepanier via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:14 am

    Though, on a funny note, it’d probably take it as a compliment if someone said “it tastes like sh*t!

  3. Kelly Rose Mukomela via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:14 am

    There are no words.

  4. Betsy
    June 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  5. Sonja Riffey Drake via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

    Ew!!!!!

  6. Leah Grant Disney via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

    Dislike button if there were one LOL!!!

  7. Danette Weddle via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

    barf…

  8. Rick Smith via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:15 am

    *barf*

  9. Holly Ellenbecker via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:19 am

    gross. lol

  10. Darlene Meehling White via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:20 am

    LOVE the pointing had he uses to show his scientific notation!! ;) Bon Appetit!! Blech!

  11. Keria Ann Schmeida via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:21 am

    If you’ll excuse me I need to go throw up now…

  12. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:22 am

    @Darlene Ugh. The WORST part of that video was watching the guy EAT THE POOP BURGER.

  13. Pam Arndt via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:24 am

    There is some evidence that this is a hoax that just hasn’t been found out yet.

  14. Lori Iversen via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:24 am

    All I can think of after reading this is “SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!”

    …which would be funny if it weren’t so close to being true. :(

  15. Darlene Meehling White via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:24 am

    That should say, “LOVE the pointing HAND he uses to show his scientific notation!!” ;) Sorry– typos. Yes, that’d be why I said, BLECH! Turd burgers, it’s what’s for dinner– can see the commercial now. LOL ICK!

  16. Evonne Penaloza via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:24 am

    YUCK!

  17. Lisa Rogers via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:26 am

    I agree, it is sad, and scary. why not harvest roaches then? They have more protein. :( Blech….

  18. Lyn Gorski via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:29 am

    That is just gross….

  19. Terri Coduri Viani via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:31 am

    When I saw this pop up I thought it was an article from “The Onion” at first!

  20. Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid
    June 23, 2011 | 10:32 am

    I can’t believe this $hit (sorry, but it’s true). “Scientists” who are making this crap are seriously evil and very very short-sighted. Thanks for a perceptive analysis of the absurd news.

  21. Nikki Tucker via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:37 am

    Disgusting!

  22. Howard C. Gray via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:37 am

    We are what we eat…. AR!

  23. Angela Newland via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:38 am

    I think I just threw up a little…gag me!

  24. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:39 am

    @Kristen — I hope the Salon journalist hears back from Ikeda to determine whether or not this is a hoax. In the meantime, it was picked up by nearly every major news outlet I read online. So, for now, I can only WISH it ain’t so.

  25. Jennifer Henderson via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:39 am

    Yeah, ok. I’d starve to death first. That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever read…..

  26. Kirsten McAllister via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:43 am

    Yes! I agree! I hope that it is a hoax, but the way the food industry is, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

  27. Eileen Meyers via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:44 am

    While I don’t dispute that government and science consistently come up with new and unhealthy artificial foods- this seems to be a bit far-fetched. I am aware that Fox news ran the story, as well as several papers, but it seems no one has verified the story. There was also a similar hoax in the ’90s. So while I agree that anything is possible in this day and age, I’m not convinced that this report is accurate.

  28. Valerie Jaquith via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:44 am

    ditto jen. I’d much rather eat bugs any day if it came down to it.

  29. Valerie Jaquith via Facebook
    June 23, 2011 | 10:44 am

    ditto jen. I’d much rather eat bugs any day if it came down to it.

  30. Pavil, the Uber Noob
    June 23, 2011 | 10:45 am

    Nice writeup. That about sums up the world of food science: its basically a knockoff business.
    Remember kids, we cannot mass produce real food.

    I wonder if grill marks will be optional.

    Ciao, Pavil

    • WordVixen
      June 23, 2011 | 12:26 pm

      *sigh* I mis-read your last sentence as “…if skid marks will be optional”. I know, so wrong! *lol*

  31. gharkness
    June 23, 2011 | 10:52 am

    I keep asking myself if this is for real. I saw it several days ago and finally wrote it off in my mind. If you look carefully at the labels as they pull this stuff out of the fridge, and on the plastic baggies….they call them ShitBurgers. OK, that may be true, but I wouldn’t think that a scientist would label them as such. In fact, if they are doing this in Japan, and it’s a Japanese product, why are they labeling them in English, anyway?

    • KristenM
      June 23, 2011 | 10:58 am

      I don’t know. That’s actually NOT a convincing argument to me, mostly because of my familiarity with Engrish.

  32. damaged justice
    June 23, 2011 | 11:05 am

    You can’t make this stuff up? While anything is possible, this story has been making the copypaste rounds lately with no credit, no attribution, no confirmation, and a number of warnings that should set off anyone’s hoax meter. The story itself is even “recycled”; this image looks like it’s from the Weekly World News (please don’t ask how I know what WWN looks like):

    http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/4719/crapburger.png

    A prankster propaganda group calling themselves the Yes Men tried to do something similar in the recent past as well. “Mitsuyuki Ikeda” is not listed among the faculty at Okayama University, no private Okayama university bioscience program appear to have announced this exciting new breakthrough, and Tokyo Sewage haven’t been holding press conferences.

    Sorry for the pun, but this fails to pass the smell test.

    • KristenM
      June 23, 2011 | 9:16 pm

      I don’t think Mr. Ikeda is supposed to work at Okayama University. The Salon.com story which is trying to authenticate or disprove this story has him working as the “Director of Okayama UNESCO Association 3-1-28 Hokan-cho, Okayama-shi 700-0026, Japan.” He appears to be a real environmental scientist dealing with sewage treatment. I think the most likely scenario is that this happened in the 90s, was featured in several news outlets (including a random British TV show, from which the above clip comes), and has recently been picked up again as a news story at YahooNews, FoxNews, etc. because the video clip finally went viral on YouTube. But, as I’ve said before, I’m holding off until this Salon.com reporter hears back from either Mr. Ikeda or some of the journalists who broke the story in the 90s.

  33. Jan's Sushi Bar
    June 23, 2011 | 11:08 am

    Actually, you can make this stuff up – it’s a hoax: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/06/17/it-is-unspeakable

    • KristenM
      June 23, 2011 | 11:18 am

      We’re talking about that over on Facebook. The thing is, just because this one blogger thinks it’s a hoax, doesn’t mean that it is. I’m holding out judgement until the guy from Salon.com hears back from the Japanese scientist featured in the video.

  34. Hayley
    June 23, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    I think it’s a social commentary on our food system, personally….I REALLY hope it’s not real. Ick. Ick doesn’t even cover it. I don’t think there is a word in our language that covers it….

  35. Augie
    June 23, 2011 | 8:48 pm

    Cadaver patties would be more appetizing.

  36. Amy
    June 23, 2011 | 8:56 pm

    Even the photo looks doctored. I don’t believe this is real. Definitely a hoax.

    • KristenM
      June 23, 2011 | 9:05 pm

      Augie — That’s the story we’ve been talking about above. All that journalist has said which is definitive is that he hasn’t yet authenticated the source — not that it’s a hoax. His final words were:

      “Ikeda does seem to be a real person. I’ve reached out to him and some of the journalists who wrote about the story in the early 1990s; if I hear back about the origins of this story — and whatever happened to the poop burgers — I will update this post.”

      So, we’re waiting to hear back from him from the scientist quoted in the story. It’s possible that this story and the one that ran in the 90s are two different ones. The 90s story has not yet been shown to be a hoax, so even if these are the same story (just that it’s resurfaced again all these years later), then it’s still a profound commentary on the state of food science.

  37. David Brown
    June 24, 2011 | 12:24 am

    I forwarded the artificial meat video to a British science writer who responded, “Fairly sure I recognize the “narrator’s” voice as that of a fairly well-known British comedy actor.”

  38. claire
    June 24, 2011 | 1:21 am

    The stuff they extruded still looks just like poop to me.

    See the movie “Yes Men” for a great scene about poop meat.

  39. Isaac Kojima
    June 24, 2011 | 5:45 am

    It’s a hoax. This video has been circulating in the web for a while but nobody tried to find a paper or other kind of source.

    • KristenM
      June 24, 2011 | 9:20 am

      Actually, the story has been featured prominently on many major news outlets, including Fox News, Yahoo News, LA Weekly, and The New York Daily News. So, if it’s a total hoax, then these news agencies have a lot to answer for. There is a reporter at Salon.com who is currently attempting to verify the story by contacting the scientist interviewed in the video. That same reporter found various news stories from 1993 that sound similar to this one, but has found no evidence that the story was then (or is now) a hoax. I think the most likely scenario is that this was a legitimate news story back in the 90s, but that these major news outlets have picked it up and recirculated it because the video from this old British TV show recently went viral on YouTube. Guess we’ll wait and see!

  40. spaysi
    June 28, 2011 | 3:25 pm

    Oh my gosh… why would someone even want to TRY to make this? How disgusting! :S

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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