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Would You Eat Meat Grown in a Lab?

lab grown meat labelsI once read a satirical "report" about a GMO tree that produced long ears that split down the middle when mature, to reveal a meaty interior surrounded by a thick, bready rind. If you didn't want to wait that long, you could break off one of the unopened "ears" and deep-fry it, producing a thin golden-brown cornbread-like rind over the meat. Sound familiar?

You guessed it: it was a hot dog tree. The deep-fried ears were corn dogs. Of course, the result confused vegetarians, since the meat didn't come from animal's suffering... though it was genetically and functionally meat. How do you handle meat when the rules you live by no longer apply? Is meat grown on trees vegan? Can it be kosher or halal? What kind of meat labels would you use to brand it? Would it even count as meat, or we have to label it as meat substitute? If it tastes like a duck and comes from a duck, isit duck? 

Those question may sound silly at first glance, but non-traditional meat sources are closer to market-ready than you might think. And no farm is required: just a few animal donor cells and a vat full of nutrient solution. The results have variously been called "cultured meat", "in-vitro meat," "shmeat" (short for "sheet meat") and "clean meat." 

So far, the path toward creating lab-produced meat has been expensive. The first cultured-meat hamburger cost $300,000 to produce. The lowest its producers have been able to get the cost down is to about twice the cost of slaughtered meat. Some people would be willing to pay this, but most wouldn't; and at those prices, they'll never be able to get it to the huge populations all over the world who can rarely afford meat. Then again, 20 years ago a portable DVD player's UPC label carried a price of $3,000. Today, you can get the same device for $30. New advances and economics of scale may bring the price down for clean meat, too.

But what happens to the livestock industry if shmeat becomes common and cheap? Unless it finds a way to compete humanely, Big Meat's probably going to see the same kind of disruption, failure, and consolidation that book publishers saw after ebooks and their readers exploded on the market. The ranching industry won't cease to exist, but it'll get smaller and more specialized. With less need for cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, and the like, we won't have to raise enormous herds that pollute groundwater, consume much-needed resources, or emit climate-changing amounts of greenhouse gasses. We can expect herds to decrease significantly, though there will always be a market for "real meat" among connoisseurs. No word on where ice cream and milk will come from if shmeat happens, so cows probably won't go extinct anytime soon. 

Clean meat enthusiasts anticipate a large market for the products, since no one really likes where our meat comes from and how it's produced. Even better, consumers will no longer have to worry about injected growth hormones or excessive use of antibiotics, which breeds resistant super-microbes. By all accounts, clean mean will be better for the Earth. 

That doesn't mean everyone will be willing to eat it. There's always the abiding fear of "Frankenfoods," as some people call GMO products. Clean meat advocates also hope to tempt back vegetarians of all stripes once cruelty-free meat becomes common. That may get some traction with those who eschew meat because of exploitation of animals. However, many vegetarians say it's not that simple: they don't justavoid meat just because of ethical reasons. They simply don't like the taste and texture. Also, it's a well-known phenomenon that after going full vegetarian for a while, you can completely lose your taste for meat. Indeed, meat makes some who backslide or abandon the lifestyle ill. Their systems can no longer handle it. 

It's a fact that few things pack as much protein into as small a package as meat, and protein is a necessity for good nutrition. We applaud the effort to help save the Earth and provide a greater variety of nutritious food. But we doubt clean meat will be the panacea its advocates claim it will be, any more than the Segway changed the planning and layout of cities, as its advocates claimed it would. So we'll wait and see what happens—while being prepared to provide meat labels for anyone who asks, whether for traditional or cultured meat.

 

Everything But the Kitchen Sink: Truly Odd But Tasty Beers

craft beer labelsSometimes, it seems like microbrewers will use everything but the kitchen sink as ingredients. Given the way people make homebrew in some countries (we're looking at you, Great Britain), it's not all that unexpected that some beers might be made in the kitchen sink. After all, it'll probably hold a good five gallons of brew, which is about two standard cases. But given the human tendency to experiment—which has resulted in delicacies like baluts (fertilized duck eggs) and deer penis wine (self-explanatory)— we suspect some misguided soul, somewhere, has tried to add even the sink to produce a smooth, metallic finish to his final product.

And yes, it's almost always a "he."

All you really need is malt, hops, water, and yeast. But it seems that anything even potentially edible (and possibly sometimes not) has gone into beer recipes at some point. Brewers have been known to use everything from fruit to triple-strength spoiled stout (the big secret of Guinness!) to stone crab legs, pizza, oysters, mustard seed, spices of every type, coffee, donuts, bacon, marijuana seeds, hot peppers, chocolate, crushed burnt bread (an ancient Sumerian specialty recently rediscovered), and, perhaps most disturbing, a strain of yeast found in a brewmaster's beard. Yes, it's called Beard Yeast. 

Some of these beers we've actually tried, and they taste delicious! Others we've heard are pretty great, and they sell well for their brewers in quantities large and small.

Now, we're not judging, but some of these beers we haven't tried...? They'd be like armadillo meat to us. In other words, the only way we'd ever try 'em would be if someone didn't tell us what was in them first. Especially Beard Yeast beer (beard beer?). We might even keep drinking them if they didn't taste too bad. But even if we wouldn't drink a beer, we'd love to provide the labels for it—it would be fun just listing the ingredients on those craft beer labels!

We wouldn't be surprised if there's a Stone Soup style beer out there, where a clever brewer convinced someone to start the wort (the deliciously strong-smelling boiling brew mix) with just a stone, and then suggested the occasional additional ingredient here and spice there that would add to the flavor, until voila! A Whatever Was In the Pantry beer was born. 

Hey, if it worked, more power to 'em!

The V-Steaming Revolution

V Steam labelsLook out, world, there's another wholesome cleansing process in town specifically for women: v-steaming. In this case, V is short for vagina; and as you might have guessed, vagina-steaming involves using an herbal  steaming process on one's hoo-ha for detoxification purposes. As a man, until recently I had never heard of this treatment, since we have no male equivalent. I guess we don't need one.

Of course, the body detoxes naturally via sweat and toilet activities. If you eat healthy, bathe regularly,  and exercise, that's all you really need.… but don't tell that to Hollywood.

V-steaming is serious business in the spa and alternative medicine communities. A number of different herbal blends are used, depending on one's needs. Also known as yoni steaming, it comes to us via Asia, Africa, and Central America, where it's been in use for years.  Proponents include model Chrissy Teigen (who recently posted a completely non-revealing Instagram photo of her trying it) and Gwyneth Paltrow, Tony Stark's love interest in the Iron Man and Avengers movies. As Ms. Teigen put it, she didn't know if it would work, but "can't hurt, right?" 

In the world of labels, we've never seen anything like the new DYI V-steaming products before. These herbal mixes do remind us a bit of potpourri mixtures. The herbs involved include basil, mugwort, rosemary, and wormwood in various admixtures, as well as other all-natural ingredients thought to promote the body's healing process. Among other things, v-steaming is said to cleanse, treat cramps, and clear up any discharge and, possibly, yeast infections.

Whether it works or not, we can't say. But whatever product you decide on, be sure not to sit too close to the steam, lest it scald you. A foot should be sufficient. Spas generally have special chairs to elevate the treatment area above the danger zone while still receiving the full therapeutic benefits. 

Until you need your v-steaming herbs, we suggest you preserve them and their potency in the safest  place possible: a freezer or refrigerator. The materials are already dried, and this will keep them from falling prey to any molds or fungi that might invade. That's why if you make v-steaming products, you should use our freezer labels, to ensure maximum freshness. You can't afford to expose the yonis you're trying to cleanse to detrimental organisms.

An Unexpected But Practical New Use for Labels

PeepholeIn South Korea, you can buy just about anything from vending machines, short of a live animal. And that's not exaggerating by much. One popular item is worn women's panties, though admittedly, that's not limited to Korea. It occurs in other Asian countries as well. 

What does all this have to do with labels? Well, we're not saying that men in Korea are any more perverted than men anywhere else, but there is this popular sport involving men drilling teeny, tiny peepholes in the walls of ladies' public bathroom stalls, and then installing teeny, tiny spy cameras in those holes. They use them for, er, live entertainment purposes that, in the American vernacular, involves the corporal punishment of small simians or asphyxiating poultry. (Sorry, we're not going to just right come out and sayit.) 

That's why the first thing most South Korean women do when entering public toilets these days  is search them for cameras, which may present as innocent-looking little spots on the wall or as suspicious holes. Smart ladies carry special kits that include pressure-sensitive stick-on labels they can use to cover suspected cameras, limiting their possibility of becoming the accidental stars of live sex shows.

Sadly, the spy cam schtick isn't limited to just toilets. Locker rooms, clothing store dressing rooms, swimming pool change rooms, and other such private places have been invaded by this "spy cam epidemic"—anywhere women, or occasionally men, undress for any reason. Often, salacious videos are posted on pornographic websites so the losers who collect them can share their illness.

The perpetrators who use public spaces for their sick pleasure usually take down the spy cams within a quarter-hour of installing them, having gotten what they want. Police in cities like Seoul know they're there, or have beenthere, but have yet to find a single camera in their sweeps. The perpetrators are too smart and too fast. 

Our intention here is not to make light of this perversion. By no means. This situation isn't amusing in the least, not in a country with the highest cellphone usage rate in the world, where it's easy to film and easy to post those videos. The men who do so rarely face punishment, while some of the women are so humiliated by the videos that they kill themselves. 

If you're a woman living or visiting South Korea, we recommend you carry a simple label kit with you everywhere you go, for those times when you need to use public facilities like the ones discussed here. Use the labels to cover up any blemishes you may find in the walls before doing your business, so as to prevent a pervert from getting his jollies. Although the deviants can easily come in later to remove the labels, this is a simple, inexpensive method that will work long enough to protect you from indecent violation by predators. 

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