You are what you eat: DIY human steak installation ignites debate around the ultimate taboo — cannibalism
Ouroboros Steak was intended as a critique of the cultured meat industry, its creators say, but it’s proven difficult for people to see past the concept of autocannibalism
Author of the article:Laura Brehaut
Publishing date:Nov 28, 2020 •
Human cells, mycelium, paper, plastic. This story starts benignly enough. But as with so many points of contention in our polarized world, it’s about context, engrained beliefs and a sliding scale of willingness to consider other points of view. A DIY meat kit is the crux of the debate — but this isn’t just any protein.
Instead of using animal cells to produce chicken nuggets, meatballs or slices of steak, Ottawa scientist Andrew Pelling, industrial designer and scientist Grace Knight, and interdisciplinary artist, designer and researcher Orkan Telhan cultured human cells in human serum to grow blobs of, you guessed it, human meat.
Feeling queasy yet? Or an uncomfortable push-pull of repulsion and intrigue? It gets even more provocative when you consider the name the team of scientists and designers gave their concept: Ouroboros Steak. Conceivably grown by the eater using their own cheek-swabbed cells and a blood bank by-product, it’s a reference to the ancient Egyptian symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail. An infinite loop merging the consumer with the consumed.
Originally part of Telhan’s “Breakfast Before Extinction” series, the installation is now on display at London’s Design Museum among the Beazley Designs of the Year. Four bite-sized, crimson morsels of flesh preserved in resin sit on a red and white checkered rim plate set on a pink and white striped placement, a shiny stainless steel fork to their left, and knife to their right.
Architecture and design magazine Dezeen featured the project in mid-November, in an article titled “Ouroboros Steak grow-your-own human meat kit is ‘technically’ not cannibalism.” Coverage has snowballed, all hung up on one word: cannibalism.
Ouroboros Steak was intended as a thought experiment, Telhan explains. A critique of the lab-grown meat industry, designed to start a discussion rather than present a potential protein solution for the future.
Ouroboros ‘Grow-Your-Own’ Steak Kits for Sale? Can You Buy This DIY Meal Kit? Scientists Say It is ‘Not Cannibalism’
22 November 2020, 9:17 am EST By Urian B. Tech Times
The popular saying that goes “you are what you eat” has recently become just a whole lot more literal. A new “DIY meal kit” that can be used to grow steaks that are made mostly from human cells was just recently nominated by the London-based Design Museum as the “design of the year.”
Human steak kits for sale?
Called “Ouroboros Steak,” this is named right after the circular symbol of a snake known for eating itself tail-first. This hypothetical kit would later on come with everything that one person would need in order to use their own cells to grow miniature human meat steaks, according to the story by NYpost.
According to one of the designers known as Grace Knight in the statement given to Dezeen Magazine, people think that the thought of eating oneself is considered as cannibalism, which is still technically not. Before thinking if this product should be tried or not, it is worth noting that it is still not available to buy.
What will be the market’s reaction to the ‘not cannibalism’ human cell steaks?
This begs the question what would the business and economic side of this new steak invention be like. While the whole market for steaks is currently huge at the moment, the demand for these human steak kits is still unseen as of the moment.
The whole marketing movement revolves around the steaks being non-disruptive to the whole supply chain since they are grown allegedly in the most humane way as possible since they come from human cells. Although still widely seen as something related to “cannibalism,” the claims are that this is entirely not the same case.
The consumption of human cell steaks might be futuristic but is currently on its way to possible mass consumption. Although the market for food that is not harmful to the environment is growing, it has not yet reached a competitive level able to penetrate the general market.
Human steak kits creation
This, of course, could change should the human steak kits for sale become a reality but as of now, it is still unclear as to when and if this would happen. According to a website for the possible imagined product, growing the food themselves will allow the consumers to know exactly where and how the food cells were grown ethically and consensually.
The human steak kits were originally created by a known scientist by the name of Andrew Pelling, an artist known as Orkan Telhan and Knight, a particular industrial designer, on commission by the known Philadelphia Museum of Art for a particular exhibit that happened last year. The project was an extension of the whole lab-grown meat industry where the designers told Dezeen magazine that it is not technically as animal-friendly as people might expect.
Lab-grown meat mainly relies on the fetal bovine serum coming from animal cell cultures, though there have been companies that have claimed to be able to find alternatives. FBS is actually made out of the calf fetus blood that is extracted after the pregnant cows are then slaughtered.