How I’d fix the ‘clean meat’ controversy

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Stock art of lab grown meat
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It won’t be long before your Fourth of July barbecue will have “meat” produced from laboratory-grown cultured animal cells cooking on the grill.

Yummy! But what should we call that stuff?

If you haven’t been following the ribbing between the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the makers of “meat” that companies make in labs, then you don’t know what I’m talking about.

So let me catch you up.

Companies making this “meat,” which is whipped up in test tubes rather than by slaughtering animals, want their product to be known as “clean meat.” The cattlemen don’t like that because it implies that meat that comes from the slaughterhouse is “dirty.”

Plus the cattlemen are apparently claiming the term “meat” belongs to them, which is like me claiming ownership of the term “hair” just because I still have mine.

Let me say this first: I think any process that helps feed all the people on this planet is a very good thing. But we need a better name for this stuff than “clean meat.”

And eureka, I have it! Let’s call it “neat meat.”

My only point here is that “clean meat” is a bad name to give this new product. Why? Because it gives me the idea that someone took a perfectly good ribeye steak and scoured it with Mr. Clean.

Not only does “neat meat” solve that problem, it also rhymes.

One of the companies making this cultured meat is called Memphis Meats. It could be years before we get to eat — or not eat — any of this stuff.

But meat producers like Tyson Foods and Cargill are investing in Memphis Meats.

There will be public hearings soon on what to call this stuff. You already know my choice. I’ll wait for the royalty checks to start coming in.