Frugal Friday: Would You Eat a $320,000 Hamburger?

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food stamps

Happy Friday everyone! For those of you in the States, how difficult was it to come back to work after a four day weekend? If you’re like me, it was a bit of a challenge, but I was thankful to get some down time – especially in light of my fireworks mishap on the 4th of July. Now that we’re sort of back in the swing of things, I thought I’d get back to covering a quirky news story from this past week. The one that caught my eye this week was an NBC article on the $320,000 hamburger that is lab-grown from cow stem cells at a Dutch University. Being as that I love to grill and like a good hamburger from time to time, this article caught my eye. As an aside, I know that there are vegetarians out there and while I never see myself becoming one, I do respect their views. I am more so wanting to look at this from a frugality/practicality aspect and of course a little tongue in cheek.

It seems one of the main drivers behind growing meat in a dish is largely going back to the issue of the energy consumption it takes to raise, kill and then produce ground beef and other cuts of beef for us as consumers. The article states that scientists believe they can potentially cut that by an estimated 40 percent. I am all for cutting down on needless usage of energy, which is part of the reason why we’ve started buying grass-fed cow recently – not to mention the fact we know what is in the beef. However, how long will it take to work on this bovine in a dish to bring it to the point where it’s commercially viable for you and me and is that length of time worth it? According to the article it has taken nearly ten years to get to this point where it is ready to be consumed by someone other than the scientists involved. One of the main drivers behind this experiment was an anonymous donation by someone who paid the $320,000 to consume the first hamburger. What will this individual be getting with this patty of “beef”? I am glad you asked.  😉

According to article the bovine creation is thin strips of beef muscle cells, minced into tiny pieces and mixed with lab produced animal fat to create a hunk of “meat.” Yummy! It makes me wonder what we’d think of the ingredients of a Big Mac. 😉 Seriously, though, after thinking about it for a minute, is this cow in a dish really meat? I would tend to think not. I am all for scientific study and think that we can learn many, many things from it and we often gain things from it that we were not looking for in the first place – but as a person who enjoys a nice burger from time to time, I think I’d have to pass on the fake patty if it was offered to me. This also got me to thinking about what it would take to make the creation sustainable and able to stay on store shelves for us as consumers – which led me to a corresponding article from BBC News. According to a molecular biologist quoted in the article it’d likely require crazy high amounts of antibiotics and antifungal chemicals to keep said fake meat from rotting. So, is the tradeoff of not having to eat pink slime or hormones worth it to consume the chemicals possibly needed to keep the “meat” from rotting? As I look at it, neither option looks too appealing and, again, goes back to why we’ve started buying grass fed beef from a farmer we trust.

There are various ways, to be sure, to look at this. As I said a few weeks ago, these are definitely interesting times we live in. I love that research is being done on things like this, though I wonder how long it’ll take to get to a reasonable production level without being weighed down by chemicals to make it that way. From a frugality standpoint, I can’t imagine a time where we would look at the bovine in a dish option, but would instead lean towards our grass fed cow which is in the $7 per pound range. It’s not the cheapest when compared to what you can find in the store, but at least we know where it came from and know that the meat, fake or not, was not pumped full of stuff to make it do one thing or another.

It has been another great week in the blogging world. There were some really solid blog posts this week and was a challenge to narrow them down, which is a good thing. 🙂 If you have the time this weekend, I encourage you to check out some of my favorite blog posts from this week.


Blog Post of the Week

A Taste of Financial Freedom on Enemy of Debt

I loved this post by Travis as I could really relate to it. He writes about giving his wife a very special day for his wife’s birthday (the big 4-0, which I by the way will be celebrating all TOO soon). That might not seem terribly spectacular, but when you look below the surface Travis and his wife have been busting their backsides at paying off their debt over the last four years. He was able to greatly encourage his wife and did so because he saved to make it such a wonderful day. If you’ve paid off a mountain of debt, you can relate to how it felt to be done. This special day was a foretaste for them and they’ll be done with their payoff in a few short months – giving them much more freedom in terms of their finances!

Other Blog Posts That Ruled

How to Integrate Debt Conversations Into Everyday Activities on The Heavy Purse

How to Travel the World for Free on One Smart Dollar

My Student Loans are GONE! on Making Sense of Cents

How to Think Rich and Be Rich on Krant Cents

Are Options a Good Strategy for Conservative Investors? on Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

Backyard to Your Kitchen: Tips for Growing a Fall Garden on Canadian Budget Binder

OptionsXpress Review – Read Before You Invest on Modest Money

Why I Am Really Glad I Have Short Term Disability on Adventuring Dollars

Make Extra Money: Rent Your Parking Space on Make Money Your Way


Odd Search Terms

Ads that promise happiness…Should never be listened to!

Butt wipe…Tell me how you really feel!

Can you lose your butt investing in penny stocks…I’ve seen it too many times to count!

How to get rich quick online…Start a blog! 😉

Frugal at Whole Foods…Good luck on that one!

Wal-Mart clothes crap…I would assume that they are!

Had to pee saved by napkin…That must’ve been one powerful napkin!


What are your thoughts? Would you eat a $320,000 hamburger or meat grown in a dish? Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?


Photo courtesy of: Guigo.EU

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)


  • Matt Becker says:

    I have to say, the thought of a burger grown in a petri dish is a little nauseating. Who knows though. In 10 years it might be the norm. And even if it never works, I agree with you that this type of research is a good thing. This kind of creativity is exactly what brings us our big innovations.

  • pauline says:

    I don’t think I’d be hungry anymore for such an expensive burger. There is a French chef in Vegas who does a $5,000 burger with kobe beef, other perfect ingredients and a superb bottle of Bordeaux, maybe if I had money to throw. But not a burger that costs the price of a nice house!

  • Maybe it’s because I don’t eat beef that often, but man that sounds a bit disgusting hearing about the process of how they are artificially making it!

    While I am all for technology being developed that will help us to do things that otherwise were not possible, I think the biggest advancement for the whole “build it in a petri dish” phenomena is the advances in human genetics coding. While some people get freaked out by the idea, I think it would be absolutely amazing and literally life-saving for some people if some business or organization developed a process for creating “extra” human parts that are genetically matched to their bodies. Can you imagine the quality of life people could have if they were able to get a “new heart” that matched their body so that there was little risk of it being rejected? I would much rather pay $320,000 towards that sort of research…but at the same time I suppose advancement in one industry can impact advancement in another, so who knows maybe it is a good thing they can make beef from a petri dish?

    • John says:

      That was my point exactly DC. You never know what we’ll get out of things like this. Though I think I’ll pass on the fake “meat”.

  • Although lab produced beef sounds disgusting, I’m wondering how disgusted I would be if I knew everything about the beef I’m currently eating! Good for you for buying grass fed beef, we’re thinking about switching too.

    • John says:

      No joke! It is well worth the switch. The taste is a bit different, but at least you have the confidence of knowing that it’s not pumped full of something.

  • Alexa says:

    I don’t think I could eat lab grown beef. Too weird….I do like the idea of only eating grass fed though. I have been working on being more healthy lately and it seems this would be better quality than what you get out of a big box store.

    • John says:

      It really is more healthy if you can get it from a farmer you can trust. It’s not pumped full of hormones/crap and is usually pretty lean.

  • You couldn’t pay me to eat “meat” grown in a dish – the thought of it turns my stomach. I’d rather have the real thing and throw it on a grill! Thanks for the awesome shout out, John – very much appreciated!

    • John says:

      As it does me Travis. I would much rather have the real thing and grill it up right. No problem on the mention – loved the post!

  • Man, I was thinking about eating a hamburger today, but not now. Thanks John! I wouldn’t pay for or eat a $320k hamburger, not would I consume one that is grown in a petri dish. I love science, but is this one really necessary?

    • John says:

      Lol, sorry Grayson. 😉 I hear ya though, we’re going to two BBQ’s this weekend. Maybe it’ll provide for some interesting dinner table conversation. 😉

  • That is one expensive hamburger. No matter how much I love a good burger I would never pay that. Thanks a bunch for including my article.

  • krantcents says:

    Being on Summer break, a 4 day weekend doesn’t matter much! Thanks for the links, I am in good opany.

  • Oh man the thought of that is so gross. I love a good burger but no way in hell… 🙂

  • I like the idea of scientifically creating meat as to prevent the killing of animals but it still sorta weirds me out.

  • I would totally try it, but not for $320,000. Maybe if they paid me a few bucks. 🙂

  • It sounds a little disgusting, but once it’s been tested and approved, then I probably won’t care too much. There are so many people starving all over the world and I’m all for bringing down the cost of food. have a great weekend!

    • John says:

      That’s a great point. I bet we’ll get to the point someday that all our food will just be in capsule form – or maybe that’ll just stay in the movies. 😉

  • Michelle says:

    Thanks for the mention! Greatly appreciated.

  • I briefly thought to myself, maybe I’d eat it if they’d give ME $320k. But alas, the churning I felt in my stomach at that though tells me otherwise.

  • Thanks for the mention, John! I really appreciate it! I’m not a big beef eater so I will pass on the petri meat. Honestly, even it was $1 – I think I would pass. Have a great weekend!

  • anna says:

    I love the picture to go with the article. I don’t know what kind of bragging right that would be to fork over the $320k considering that would seem really gross to the general population? Have a great weekend, John!

    • John says:

      Ha ha, I thought it was a pretty good one too! I agree…someone has WAY too much money on their hands if they’re going to fork over that much for some fake “meat” You have a good one as well Anna!

  • Ok mate, I have to admit I couldn’t finish reading your culinary description of the burger as it was making my stomach turn lol. I would never, ever spend that kind of money to try a burger like that. Like the saying goes, ‘there’s a buyer for everything’ lol. Have a good one!! Cheers

  • Blech!! Never in a million years would I touch that attempt at “food”. We buy grass-fed beef here locally too and it’s such a great deal! Less than $4 a pound for beef that’s eating what it’s supposed to eat instead of Lord knows what. Have you ever watched “King Corn”? That’s one documentary that will make you glad you eat grass fed beef. 🙂

  • Wow, that is one expensive hamburger! I would never eat it, just because of the description, haha! Yuck!

  • Derek - says:

    No red meat for me 🙂

  • Catherine says:

    There were a lot of good posts this week.I missed Travis’ off to read it now!

  • Mr. 1500 says:

    Wow, I love red meat, but i feel terrible every time I eat it knowing the incredible energy it takes to produce. I’d love to be able to buy something like this.

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