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A hunk of beef … but not from die plaas

Old Macdonald had a… lab? The Mzansi Meat Co, a Cape Town-based cultured meat company, has successfully created viable meat that smells and tastes like the real thing. (By the way, “cultured” doesn’t mean the meat is well-spoken and comes from old money – just that it was grown in a lab.)

After two years of research, the company has made enough cultured meat to make a meal. Technically, while the meat originates from the fat and muscle cells of a beef cow, it was grown completely in a lab in Woodstock, Cape Town. This is an environmental boon: lab-grown meat uses drastically less water and land than more traditional methods. It also decreases the amount of methane produced by a herd of cows. 

Co-founders Brett Thompson and Jay van der Walt started the company in 2019, hoping to help people eat more sustainably. Globally, many companies are working on similar products. 

While it could be a few years before cultured meat ends up on your plate, it is slowly becoming a reality. In 2020, Singapore made history by becoming the first country in the world to approve the sale of a cultured meat product set to be used in chicken nuggets. At $15 or R239.10 per meal, that’s a bit too rich for our tastes! But experts believe that with more players entering the cultured meat market, the costs per meal could drop.
This is great news considering that we have just celebrated Earth Day 2022. This year’s theme was Invest in Our Planet: it’s great to see a local company doing just that.

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