May 2, 2024 - Energy & Environment

We tried it: Lab-grown salmon, in a sashimi wrap

Illustration of a wireframe city with salmon.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It's not every day you get to call a simple sashimi wrap groundbreaking science, but that was certainly true of my recent meal at an event hosted by the Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture (TUCCA).

Why it matters: TUCCA last month presented the Boston area's first public tasting of cultivated seafood — in this case, lab-grown salmon filets from future-of-food startup Wildtype.

The big picture: The Tufts research center is all about creating agricultural products like animal proteins, dairy and leather from cells instead of once-living animals.

  • It's an interdisciplinary hub bringing together cell biologists, tissue engineers, nutritionists, mechanical engineers and other scientists to work on the next generation of food.
  • The goal: creating sustainable and cost-effective food manufacturing techniques instead of harvesting meat from living creatures.

Zoom in: While it's early days for the lab-grown meat world, there's already lots of interest among grocers, restaurateurs and curious diners.

  • Some companies are also pitching it as a healthier or morally superior alternative to the real thing.

Dig in: A bit to my surprise, the lab-grown filets tasted just like traditional salmon.

  • Maybe not the best, freshest-tasting fish I've ever had, but very serviceable in a seaweed wrap with some rice and greens.

What's next: The company expects to sell its fish to select restaurants once approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The bottom line: The ongoing research at TUCCA is a poetic blend of Boston's long-running scientific and seafood production roots.

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