The Ourosteak, or Ouroborus steak, is one of hundreds of food products which has been created this year. It is among the most controversial, particularly after garnering international attention by being included in the short list for the Dezeen Awards. Its creators insist that the Ourosteak is not technically cannibalism, but there are dissents.
Dezeen is a highly regarded magazine devoted to architecture, art and design, and this year some manufactured foods had caught their eye. The Ourosteak was among them, created by American artist/designer and Rachel Carson award winner Grace Knight, cutting-edge Canadian biological researcher Andrew Pelling and German artist/designer Orkan Telhan. It is a lab-grown piece of meat grown from a swab of cheek cells and expired blood donations. The ouroboros is the ancient Greek image of a circular snake swallowing its tail, and it is particularly appropriate here, as the idea is that the cheek swab is to be obtained from the person who’s expected to eventually consume the steak.
The initial samples are currently on display as part of a futurism exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the creators have repeatedly said that the intent was to encourage people to learn about the expanding cultured meat industry. Those companies which are imagined to be animal-friendly instead use animal blood and other bodily fluids as nutrients for the grown cultures. They wanted to issue a warning on behalf of the animals.
At least, that’s how it began. The additional publicity generated by the award short-listing has shifted the creators into Soylent Green territory, even as they fail to recognize that this ground was covered in that famed film.
“We are not promoting ‘eating ourselves’ as a realistic solution that will fix humans’ protein needs. We rather ask a question: what would be the sacrifices we need to make to be able to keep consuming meat at the pace that we are? In the future, who will be able to afford animal meat and who may have no other option than culturing meat from themselves?”Orkan Telhan, to Dezeen Magazine
What particularly sparked interest was the groups’ method of presentation; rather than simply prove that the growth was possible, they packaged them as a theoretical “do it yourself” meal kit, where a person would simply need to provide their own tissue swab and expired blood, and let the highly specialized and expensive lab equipment which would be included in the kit do the rest.
The trio made their bite-sized steaks and they’ve encased them in resin for museum display, but they’ve made clear that they’re not looking to actually make or distribute the DIY packages. It’s for the best; we’ve covered a variety of failed marketing efforts in the Owl, and it’s safe to assume that “consume yourself” meals would be a failure of legendary proportions.
Question of the night: What’s one of your favorite famous movie moments?