Although delicious, foie gras is not the most ethical of delicacies. Buttered duck or goose liver usually comes to the plate through a controversial process known as force-feeding, which requires birds to be force-fed several times a day to increase the richness of the pate. But that could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a certain Parisian startup.
Gourmey unveiled a new type of farmed foie gras that does not require force-feeding and is also slaughter-free. Laboratory-grown liver is made from duck stem cells that are harvested from a single fertilized egg and then cultured in vitro in large stainless steel tanks called bioreactors, according to Bloomberg lawsuits.
As cells are supplied with nutrients, they multiply and eventually form the desired tissue (fat, muscle or tendon). Since foie gras is renowned for its softness and contains less fiber than, say, chicken or steak, it’s much easier and faster to recreate the texture in the lab. This means that the price may be more comparable to that of farmed foie gras.
Right now, high-quality foie gras sells for around $ 80 a pound. Gourmey co-founder Nicolas Morin-Forest told Bloomberg that the lab-grown equivalent is currently in the triple-digit range and needs to drop to double digits.
Gourmey’s believes its lab-grown foie gras will be indistinguishable from the original in taste, texture and smell, although the public will have to wait until 2022 to see if it lives up to it.
The product certainly made your mouth water, however. Gourmey has raised $ 10 million in seed funding from investors, as well as the European Commission and French public investment bank Bpifrance, suggesting that the French government is supporting the development of cultured meats.
The timing couldn’t be better either. Due to growing animal welfare concerns, more than a dozen countries have banned the traditional production of foie gras. And, next year, New York City will follow California in banning it in restaurants. (According to a ruling last July, foie gras can still be eaten in California if it comes from out of state.)
Plus, alternative proteins are booming. There are now over 70 startups around the world working on fake pork chops, 3D printed rib eye, and more. In fact, the sector is expected to occupy 35% of the global $ 1.8 trillion meat market by 2040.
“With our flagship cultured foie gras, we honor culinary traditions and heritage while looking to the future,” writes Gourmey on its website.
The wonders of science never cease and are apparently so delicious.