No animal has participated in this menu with eggs, meat and milk

No animal has participated in this menu with eggs, meat and milk

How will they be menus of the future? There are many plausible answers. It seems pretty clear that they could contain insects. Or even fed freeze-dried, like those consumed by astronauts. There could even be products made in 3d printers. It is also possible that we can eat lab grown meat. But would it be possible to go beyond meat products? The objective is to preferably replace foods of animal origin and the truth is that there are already quite a few advances in this regard with products such as milk or eggs. As much as to be able to elaborate a whole menu based on artificial food.

Perhaps the term “artificial foods” is not the most correct, since they are still real foods, with some nutritional properties practically equivalent to the traditional ones. The only difference is that would not come from animals, but they would be manufactured in the laboratory thanks to the latest advances in the techniques of genetic engineering and cell cultures.

Bearing all this in mind, we could create a menu made up of starter, main course and dessert. Omelette, a good lab-grown beef steak, and to finish, a milkshake. All very basic apparently, but with a lot of science behind it.

Artificial foods or, more correctly, obtained in the laboratoryor, they will be the main ingredient of this menu. However, we must not forget that to eat in a balanced way we must follow the proportions of the Harvard plate and, therefore, we would have to add a good amount of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats to proteins represented by eggs and meat grown in the laboratory. Once that is clear, let’s see what each dish consists of.

Omelette with very special eggs

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Bacteria can be used as little factories of infinity of useful substances for humans. It can occur naturally, such as when grape juice is fermented into wine. But it may also require the intervention of scientists, who introduce the genes necessary for them to manufacture these substances into certain microorganisms. This is what happens with the insulinfor example.

In the past, this much-needed hormone for diabetics was obtained directly from the pancreas of pigs. However, it could cause allergies, not to mention the damage caused to animals. Therefore, when the improvement of the techniques of genetic engineering made it possible, bacteria began to be used E.coli modified to produce this substance.

The DNA of microorganisms can be modified so that they synthesize the proteins that we want

Over time, a large number of compounds have been obtained. They may be substances derived from fermentation or proteins that are manufactured directly in bacteria, thanks to instructions introduced between their genes. As in humans, the information present in DNA from bacteria is transcribed into RNA and then carried to ribosomes, where the instructions are used to make proteins. What is done with genetic engineering is to modify the instructions of the bacteria so that they make the proteins that we want.

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This can also have an application in obtaining artificial foods, such as eggs. In fact, the American company Clara Foods has spent years researching Obtaining proteins from egg white by means of genetically modified microorganisms. Then they could do the same with the bud. It is true that a complete egg would not be obtained, but it has turned out to be enough for obtaining meringues, pancakes and scrambled eggs nutritionally equivalent to those that would be obtained with traditional eggs. Therefore, the tortilla of our menu could be made with the help of these proteins.

A good lab-grown beef steak

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Lab-grown meat is the queen of artificial food. In this case, what is exploited more than genetic engineering are the techniques of Cell cultures.

For its elaboration, we obtain muscle stem cells and exposed to the parameters necessary for their proliferation and development into adult cells. It is not necessary to be doing biopsies continuously to the cattle, because once you have the first ones you can take a small sample to obtain more.

The first step is to obtain samples of stem cells from the muscles of animals

A perfusion system similar to blood irrigation is also used, through which necessary nutrients and oxygen are supplied for its growth. In addition, they are grown together with other types of cells, such as those of fat or adipocytes, so as to ensure an adequate supply of chemical messengers. In short, the natural conditions in which these cells proliferate in the organism of the animals from which the stem cells were extracted are emulated.

Then, with proper processing, you can get all kinds of artificial food, from steaks to burgers and sausageyes

And for dessert: milkshake

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We could cook some pancakes for dessert using the eggs from the first course. However, in order not to repeat ingredients, the dessert on our menu will consist of a smoothie made with milk and any other ingredients. Basically, since we’re talking about artificial food or cultivatedwhat interests us here is milk.

This product was obtained for the first time in 2014, by a egg-like mechanism. It was another American company, Muufri, that managed to genetically modify yeasts so that they could synthesize milk proteins.

To obtain artificial milk, proteins obtained from microorganisms, fatty acids with their modified structure and water are used.

Again, protein alone is not enough. However, as these scientists explained in statements collected by ScienceAlert, milk consists of a very simple recipethen 87% of its composition is just water. In their case they added six proteins synthesized with the help of genetically modified yeasts. And also eight fatty acids which contributed to the flavor.

The latter were obtained from plants, but were modified so that their structure was more similar to that of the fatty acids in milk. In their day they recognized that the result is much more expensive than conventional milkl. It’s logical, actually. However, the goal is that over time all the ingredients of this laboratory menu will be accessible to the entire population. We haven’t gotten to that yet, but everything will work out. It may just be a matter of time.