The World's First Lab-Grown Foie Gras Could Solve This Major Concern

Some will say there is no way to truly enjoy a serving of foie gras (the fatty liver of a duck or goose), simply because the ingredient has too much baggage. Many of us come to know of foie gras as the product of a grim process that begins with maltreated poultry stuck in small cages and routinely force-fed in order to give humans the distended liver delicacy they crave, though J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats has noted that some small American foie farms have better conditions than your average large-scale commercial farm. Even so, foie gras is so controversial that producing it is illegal in 17 countries (via Fortune). 

But what if scientists said there was a way to enjoy guilt-free foie gras that doesn't involve birds at all? That is the premise offered up by French food company Gourmey, which is working to create a lab-grown version of foie gras, per Fortune. Unsurprisingly, the thought of enjoying this delicacy without incurring negative karma points has foie gras fans excited.

This foie gras uses stem cells from a duck

Gourmey uses stem cells taken from a fertilized duck egg which are isolated and then fed on a diet of proteins, amino acids, and fats. "The cells multiply as if they are in the egg, then you adjust the nutrients to trigger the cell type that you want," company CEO and cofounder Nicolas Morin-Forest tells Sifted. "So if you want liver cells, or muscle cells, you adjust the inputs and the cells react to that. We then harvest muscle cells, fat cells, or liver cells and craft our products." The company says its end product is so successful that an unnamed Michelin-star chef has not been able to tell the lab grown foie gras from its natural counterpart, and that he would cook with the synthesized meat product.

Morin-Forest says their company began with foie gras because it is complex, hard to find due to bans, and it carries premium pricing. But the company wants to do more with what they've created. "Foie gras is just the first application of our current know-how," says Morin-Forest. "With the same starting cells, we can create any type of poultry meat product."

Gourmey's product has been so convincing it's been able to pull together $10 million in additional funding. Fortune notes that with this money, this specialty lab-meat maker expects to begin selling its foie gras before the end of 2022 at the earliest, and by 2023 at the latest.