I order wings with a fiery hot sauce when I can. On a first date in college, I requested the hottest wings Loco’s could make, personally issuing a dare to the person taking the order.
It was a ludicrously bad first-date decision. Take my advice, don’t ever order anything on a first date that begs for a bib, a bathroom and a glass of milk to dull the pain. I made myself sick, lost the girl, but kept going back for the wings. Yeah, they hurt, but they were really good, too.
I hated venison the first time I tried it. It was too gamey, but years later, my friend grilled a venison back strap. And if I had to rank best meals I’ve ever had, that would a real contender. It was like a quality beef filet, but more tender, with less fat. I’m now sold on venison, though I recognize that the quality can vary greatly depending on the cut and how it’s prepared.
I love a good Philly steak. I cover it with jalepenos. It doesn’t last long on my plate. I am a notoriously fast eater. I love fried chicken, but I don’t pick it as clean as one friend, who cleans the bone so well you’d think ants had attacked it. I love hot chili, chili dogs, chicken sandwiches, chicken pot pie, chicken burritos — I’m beginning to sound like the shrimp lover in Forrest Gump — chicken stir fry, sesame chicken, chicken vindaloo, beef with broccoli, barbecue sandwiches doused in hot sauce, pork tenderloins, ribs.
Speaking of shrimp. I love shrimp. And I love seafood. I can’t take a beach trip without getting crab legs. I like some types of sushi, though a drunk man wearing mittens could probably be more graceful with chopsticks than I am.
Sometimes, as I’m licking the wing sauce off my fingers, I think about the high demand for meat in the world. A lot of folks have tastes like me. And so, areas like Madison County, which produce a substantial share of meat for U.S. consumption, are really important. There’s a lot of chicken and beef produced right here.
I think about the years ahead and the projected population growth around the world. Food production will have to skyrocket to meet the demand. So it’s important to protect the food producers we have, while finding ways to create even more.
It’s interesting to think about the last century and the incredible technological advancements. Think of how strange commercial airflights over the oceans must have seemed to those who remembered the Wright brothers’ first attempts at the sky. What advancements will we see in the coming decades?
Will we figure out ways to feed many more people?
For instance, what if meat could be grown in a dish?
A test tube hamburger? Ugh, count me out of that taste test, but “in vitro” meat is actually being researched. For instance, PETA has offered a $1 million prize to researchers who develop a commercially viable in vitro meat by 2012.
According to an article in Time Magazine, scientists first began working with in vitro proteins, grown from animal cells in petri dishes and bioreactors, about a decade ago. This was researched as a way to provide astronauts with a long-term food source.
“Here’s how the process works: scientists biopsy stem or satellite muscle cells from a livestock animal, such as a chicken, cow or pig,” wrote D.J. Siegelbaum in Time Magazine. “The cells are then placed in a nutrient-rich medium where they divide and multiply, and are then attached to a scaffolding structure and put in a bioreactor to grow.”
Ultimately, would this meat prove healthy? Would it be edible? Could it be mass produced at a low cost?
If the technology advances to the point where each question is answered with a “yes,” then the test tube burger could be a food source breakthrough for a world with an exploding population.
Of course, I can’t see lab meat passing the sniff test for most meat lovers.
I expect most folks will be like me for years to come — ordering those old fashioned hot wings, that good barbecue, that tender steak. Let’s eat.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.