As I chewed my nugget, I realized that though its taste asymptotically approached chicken, it was not, alas, chicken. It was crunchy, thanks to the fried, breaded coating; it was flavorful, thanks to the salt and spices inside; and its innards were creamy, which frankly is an improvement on the graininess of most processed nuggets. But it lacked the gamey animal kick that screams “chicken.”
We like meat to taste a certain way, but I realized that if I had never before had chicken, I might prefer this. Why is gaminess a virtue, anyway? Some people relish traditions such as hunting and fishing and the more visceral experiences with meat they provide. But if Just and similar companies are successful, future generations might only know chicken to be a pleasant, meat-esque paste, with no bones and skins to speak of. In fact, our entire notion of animal products might become unhinged from animals. The idea that human gustatory pleasure necessarily involves the inhumane farming of other creatures might come to be seen as outdated and gauche. A “real” chicken sandwich might be viewed, in some quarters, as barbarous as poaching. That is, if the bioreactor thing gets worked out.