The saying “You are what you eat” may soon become much more literal.
A “DIY meal set” for growing steaks made from human cells was recently nominated for “Design of the Year” by the London-based Design Museum.
Named Ouroboros Steak after the circular symbol of a snake eating its tail first, the hypothetical kit would come with everything one needs to use their own cells to grow miniature beef steaks.
“People think eating themselves is cannibalism, which technically it’s not,” Grace Knight, one of the designers, told Disney magazine.
Before running after your wallet, know that this is not a product that can be purchased. It was created by scientist Andrew Pelling, artist Orkan Telhan and Knight, an industrial designer, commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an exhibition last year.
“Cultivating yourself ensures that you and your loved ones always know the origin of your food, how it is farmed, and that its cells were acquired ethically and by consensus,”
The project was made as a critique of the laboratory-developed meat industry, which the designers told Diten magazine is actually not as animal-friendly as one might expect. Lab-grown meat is dependent on fetal bovine serum for animal cell cultures, although some companies have claimed to have found alternatives. FBS is made from calf fetal blood after pregnant cows have been slaughtered.
Lab-grown meat is not yet approved for human consumption, though some products may hit store shelves in the next few years.
“As the meat industry in the laboratory develops rapidly, it’s important to develop designs that expose some of its underlying limitations to looking beyond the hype,” Pelling Diéen said.
Growing an Ouroboros steak would take about three months using cells taken from inside the cheek, the magazine reported. For the collection of sample steaks on display at the museum, the team used human cell cultures purchased from the American Tissue Culture Collection and cultured them with donated blood that expired and would otherwise have been destroyed. They preserved the finished products in resin.
“Spilled human blood is a waste material in the medical system and is cheaper and more sustainable than FBS, but culturally less accepted,” Knight told Diéen.