TED X Toronto: In Defense of In Vitro Meat

10/23/2012 08:10 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST
a chicken wing inside a petri...

TED talks aren't inspiring in the way that a Confucius quote is inspiring: they don't just make us think, they inspire us to get together and make a change. I'm hoping to change people's attitude toward futuristic food.

It's a fact that in vitro meat -- a sustainable food that's grown in a laboratory -- is going to be here pretty soon. The goal of my talk is for people to be aware of that and to receive the idea with an open mind. In vitro meat can really help us out in a lot of ways, but if that's going to happen, we have to be willing to give it a chance.

I think we have a gut reaction when we hear about cultured meat. I have it too, and it's not positive. That's undeniable. As someone who's interested in the technology, it's important to acknowledge that it doesn't sound that appetizing! But that doesn't mean we should reject it out of hand.

I think right now, we're afraid of food science because of a lack of awareness. As consumers, I want people to be responsible about finding out why scientists are doing what they're doing. Sometimes it's in response to a really good cause, and sometimes it's not. We have to be aware of that and support the people who are doing the right thing. A lot of us automatically approach new foods with fear rather than curiosity.

I think that's actually pretty damaging. Food is becoming one of the biggest issues out there and in my mind, it's not likely that we can go back to the local, organic movement for all the answers; it's just not going to be enough.

So I think we just need to open our mind to what food science can help us accomplish.

Watch Isha Datar's talk via live-stream on October 26 at