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Why Iowans aren’t buying into lab-grown “meat”

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If a plant-based or lab-grown meat substitute was readily available to you at the grocery store, how likely would you be to purchase it, instead of actual meat?

That’s the question we asked Iowa grocery shoppers via the 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, an annual survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

The answer: not likely. 

Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) Iowa grocery shoppers said they are not likely to buy a plant-based or lab-grown meat substitute. In fact, 69% of grocery shoppers don’t think that these artificial options should even be allowed to use the word “meat” on their labels.

Lab-grown “meat” is made by taking a muscle sample from an animal. Scientists collect cells from that tissue and “feed” them nutrients and, often, animal blood serum in a lab to help them grow.

That might sound enough like “meat” to the groups that are helping fund these lab-grown alternatives, including PETA, but apparently it doesn’t pass the smell (or, in this case, taste) test for most Iowans.

Those Iowans ought to know the difference between real meat and wannabe meat. According to the survey, 95 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers’ households eat meat at least weekly. And when they learned that dietitians and other health experts consider meat, milk and eggs to be the “highest quality” (aka “complete”) protein sources (containing all of the essential amino acids in amounts that humans need), 66 percent of them said they were likely to increase their consumption.

Are there people willing to try lab-grown imitation meat? Of course, and they should have that option.

Should the rest of us be forced to read between the lines to understand that the “clean” in a “clean meat” label (one of the proposed names for this new product) is code for imitation, lab-grown, or (depending on who you ask) fake?

Just ask 7 in 10 Iowans.

By Zach Bader. Zach is Iowa Farm Bureau’s Digital Marketing Manager.



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