Wooly mammoth meatballs are a thing. But would you want to eat one?


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Woolly mammoths, which roamed the Earth during the Ice Age, are long extinct. But remains found in Arctic permafrost have helped scientists sequence their genome and learn fascinating facts about these gigantic creatures.

Now, a food startup has found a surprising use for mammoth DNA. During a media event on Tuesday, an Australian cultured meat company called Vow unveiled a meatball consisting of lab-grown mammoth meat at a science museum in the Netherlands.

In the typical process of making cultured meat, cells are extracted from a living animal, after which they are grown into meat within a lab by “immersing them in nutrients.” Since the project team did not have access to preserved mammoth tissue, they identified the mammoth version of the protein myoglobin, which gives meat its texture, flavor and color, from the publicly available genome database.

They used the genome of an African elephant, the mammoth’s closest living relative, for additional information. Then, they inserted the synthesized gene into a sheep muscle cell. The mammoth gene was “overexpressed” to make it more prevalent than the sheep’s gene in the final product, which was eventually cultivated into around 400 grams of meat.

Vow shared the news on Twitter.

“We’re starting a conversation on what the future of food looks like (and from our view, it’s pretty exciting),” the company tweeted.

The team has yet to taste the lab-grown meat. They are hesitant to do so because these proteins have not existed for over 5,000 years, and they may pose a potential allergenic risk.

The project is intended to highlight the potential of cultured meat to make eating habits more planet-friendly.

“We wanted to get people excited about the future of food being different to potentially what we had before,” Tim Noakesmith, founder of the startup, told The Associated Press. “That there are things that are unique and better than the meats that we’re necessarily eating now, and we thought the mammoth would be a conversation starter and get people excited about this new future.”

Currently, Vow is waiting to get regulatory approval from Singapore, the first country to approve cultured meat, to sell lab-grown quail meat it has developed. In the U.S., the FDA has approved lab-grown chicken for human consumption.

This article originally appeared on SimpleMost and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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Common foods with surprisingly ancient origins

Common foods with surprisingly ancient origins

Before food was a choice, it was a necessity — the bare minimum only eaten and endured in order to survive. But as creative beings, humans have transformed the means of survival into palatable delicacies and a multi-billion dollar industry. 

Unsurprisingly, many beloved foods we eat regularly have been around in one way or another for thousands of years.

Here are some of your favorite foods that have ancient origins. 


Here’s a fun fact for your next movie night — that buttery, salty popcorn has been around for a couple of millennia. Fossil evidence found in Peru suggests corn was popped as early as 4,700 B.C. Ancient civilizations would dry corn before throwing it in the fire, which created hot, crunchy popcorn. It was also used as part of Aztec ceremonial headdresses, jewelry, and ornaments.

It wasn’t until the 1880s that popcorn gained popularity with the invention of the first popcorn machine. And the creation of movies in the early 20th century transformed this ancient dish into the world’s favorite movie viewing snack.

Related: Pairing whiskey with food is a thing. Here’s how you can do it

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Pancakes, one of the world’s favorite breakfasts, have been around for quite a while, too. In fact, archeological evidence shows the world’s oldest mummy of a Chalcolithic man, “Otzi the Iceman,” had parts of einkorn wheat pancakes in his stomach. Due to the charcoal still present on Otzi’s pancakes, researchers believe they were cooked over a flame, similar to today’s pancakes. 

The ancient Greeks were also big fans of the carb-fueled dish, but they called it “tagenias,” which means “frying pan.” They would make the batter with wheat flour, honey, olive oil, and curdled milk and cook it over a clay griddle placed over a fire. Romans tweaked this recipe and made it fluffier by adding eggs and fresh milk to the mixture.


Love cheesecake? Don’t thank Cheese Factory, thank the Ancient Greeks and Romans who came up with the tasty dessert two millennia ago. 

While cheese itself predates recorded history, ancient Greeks used soft, moldy cheeses and mixed them with honey and flour to create the desert we all love today. 

Ancient records show that athletes at the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. were served cheesecake as it was considered a great energy booster. Again, ancient Romans added eggs and crushed cheese into the mixture, making the initially dry cake fluffier and spongier. They would bake the dessert under a hot brick and serve it fresh.

Over the years, the recipe traveled across Europe and eventually found its place in the United States, where it gained instant popularity.

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One of the most loved foods around the world has its roots in present-day Ecuador where, about 3,600 years ago, the cacao bean was domesticated. 

In the 1400s, when the Aztec empire began expanding across Mesoamerica, they started trading cocoa beans with the Maya. Both civilizations regarded chocolate as valuable, often using it as a currency and in religious ceremonies. In the 1500s, the Spanish brought the “serotonin booster” to Europe and made it sweeter by adding cinnamon and sugar. The popularity of chocolate led European nations to establish colonial plantations to grow cacao and sugar — and imported African slaves to work on them.

Cocoa presses, invented in 1828, revolutionized chocolate production, making it more affordable and accessible. 


The world’s long-standing love affair with beef jerky is probably older than you think. The salty, dried meat has existed for thousands of years. While ancient Egyptians consumed variations of dried meat, the closest version to modern-day beef jerky comes from the Inca tribes of the Andes mountains in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization would cut meat from alpacas or llamas into thin strips, salt, and smoke and dry them over a fire. They called the delicacy “ch’arki” ‚— the Quechan word for “dried meat” or “burning meat,” which later mutated into “jerky.” 

When Spanish colonizers brought this meat-drying technique to Europe,  it soon became a staple in their colonies in America.

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Now a staple in every vegan and vegetarian diet, the protein-packed soy product has been around for thousands of years. The origin of tofu lies in China, during the Han dynasty  (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.), where according to a legend, a cook accidentally curdled soy milk by mixing it with nigari seaweed. 

Tofu made its way to Japanese cuisine around the 8th Century A.D. and arrived in Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries. 

While tofu was introduced in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century by a Chinese immigrant living in Paris, the food was widely disregarded for the next five decades. In the 1960s, conscious eating gained a lot of traction in the Western world, so tofu became a popular meat substitute.

By the 1980s, the plant-based protein had become so popular there were 245,000 tofu producers globally.


 While it might seem like the popular fermented beverage just recently popped up in our supermarkets, local cafes, restaurants, and homes, there are 2000 years of history behind the brew.

The origins of Kombucha can be traced to 220 B.C. in Northeast China, where it was revered as a medicine. The fermented tea got its name from Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician who brought it to Japan as a cure for Emperor Inkyo.

After trade routes expanded in the early 20th century, the tea eventually made its way to Europe, appearing in Russia (as “Kambucha”) and in Germany (as “Kombuchaschwamm”). 

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You might be surprised to learn that the tamale from your local food truck comes with 7,000 years of history! Dating to 5,000 B.C., tamales were cooked and eaten by several indigenous tribes in central and South America, including the Aztecs and the Maya. 

It was a perfect meal for travelers and soldiers because it was easy to carry around —the giant leaves also helped to preserve the ingredients inside, which meant they could travel long distances without going bad.


A ubiquitous condiment in Asian cuisine, soy sauce dates back to 500 B.C. in China and is considered one of the world’s oldest condiments. Soy sauce evolved from the need to preserve meats, vegetables, and grains with salt. 

Soy sauce evolved from the need to preserve meats, vegetables, and grains with salt. A mixture of soybeans, water, and salt was used to ferment the wheat. Eventually, soybeans became the main ingredient in this combination which became known as soy sauce. Eventually, this process spread to Japan and other Asian countries. It was first exported to the U.S. in the 1800s.


It’s no secret that cheese is one of the world’s most beloved comfort foods, whether paired with a nice wine or sprinkled on top of pasta. It turns out cheese has been around as humans have been herding animals.

While cheesemaking’s origins are somewhat hazy, it is suggested that it originated around 8000 BCE, when sheep were domesticated for the first time. A strainer coated with milk-fat molecules dating back to 5500 BCE. was discovered in what is now Kuyavia, Poland.

But it was the super-organized ancient Romans that produced cheese in large quantities. They made hundreds of different types of cheese and often aged or smoked them to extend their shelf life. It was a convenient form of protein that their armies could carry with them. And carry it they did!


As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, olive oil can be used in a various ways, from salad dressing to skincare products. Unsurprisingly, humans knew the super oil’s health benefits many years ago—10,000 years to be precise. Olive oil is made from wild olives, which originated in Asia Minor and were collected by Neolithic people around 8000 B.C. 

Olive oil has also been used as a fuel in lamps, soap-making, religious rituals and as medicine.Ancient Greeks would rub themselves with olive oil  before exercising in the gymnasia. 

It was also used as a birth control— Aristotle shared a recipe in his “History of Animals” where he recommends applying a combination of olive oil with cedar oil to the cervix to prevent pregnancy. 

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Bread is one of the most consumed foods worldwide, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise; it has been around for quite some time. In the Black Desert in Jordan, charred crumbs from a flatbread made from wild wheat, wild barley, and plant roots dated 14,600 to 11,600 years ago were discovered in 2018. Remains of bread from around 9,100 years ago have been discovered in Neolithic sites in Europe and Turkey. In Ancient Egypt, breadmaking was extensively documented through artistic depictions. 

As for leavening, ancient civilizations at first would retain a piece of fought with sugar and water to use as a sourdough starter. Ancient Romans later discovered that the Iberians used beer foam to create “a lighter kind of bread.” But most of the ancient world preferred wine over beer, so they used a paste composed of grape must that allowed the fermentation.

By the middle ages, bread was not only a staple food but also a part of the table service— a plate made from stale bread was a common part of​​ a standard table setting. 


If you are a butter lover, you might want to “spread” the word— the history of the fatty goody has been “whipping” for thousands of years. According to a book dedicated solely to the origins of the tasty dairy product, “Butter: A Rich History” by Elaine Khosrova, the staple food has had quite a ride over the past 10,000 years.  

Butter was first produced shortly after animals were domesticated around 8000 B.C., although the first primitive batches were nothing like the sticks that sit on your refrigerator shelf today. Early butter came from the milk of yak, sheep, and goats — our ancestors’ first domesticated animals.

Regarding manufacturing, archaeologists have unearthed 4,500-year-old Sumerian limestone depicting butter-making. As butter spread, its uses and meaning evolved. Ancient Romans, who preferred their bread dipped in olive oil, associated the consumption of butter with barbarism but used it as a healing balm. Ancient Sumerians considered butter as magic food and offered it up as a gift at temples.


The “hero” of every barbecue, ketchup, has a special place in America’s favorite foods hall of fame. While 97% of households in the U.S. report having a ketchup bottle in their fridge, the origins of the condiment are anything but American. It turns out ketchup has a somewhat “fishy” history. Ketchup comes from the Chinese word “kê-tsiap,” the name for a sauce made from fermented fish. The use of this sauce appears in writings dating to 300 B.C.

The British likely discovered ketchup in Southeast Asia, returned home and attempted to recreate the dark fermented sauce. A recipe published in 1732 for “Ketchup in Paste,” by Richard Bradley, references “Bencoulin in the East-Indies” as its origin. However, this ketchup was certainly not the red concoction we know today. Most of the early ketchup recipes included walnuts, mushrooms, anchovies, and oysters. 

Using tomato pulp, spices, and brandy, a horticulturist James Mease created the first tomato-based ketchup recipe in 1812, referring to tomatoes as “love apples.” 

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New York slice or Chicago deep dish? Topped with pepperoni and cheese or with pineapple? No matter the form or toppings, we can all agree that pizza is one of the best human creations. While when it comes to its origins, Italy is the first country that comes to mind—historians agree the mouthwatering dish has an even more extended history— granted in a broader sense. People have been topping flatbreads with various ingredients to make them tastier since antiquity. Persians baked flatbreads with dates and cheese, while Greeks topped them with herbs, cheese, and garlic. The earliest example of modern pizza appears in 19 B.C. writings, described as a round cake topped with cooked vegetables.

In 16th-century Naples, pizza was known as a poor man’s dish, mainly as street food. After the Spanish brought the tomato from the Americas in the 1500s, they developed the modern pizza as we know it today.

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Ketchup’s underrated cousin, mustard, has a long and rich history. In fact, the plant that the condiment is made of has been among the very first crops cultivated by our ancestors.

As a condiment, mustard first appeared in China around 1046 B.C. during the Zhou Dynasty — the royal courts grounded mustard seeds into a yellow paste to boost appetite for the later courses in a meal.

Mustard seeds have been used for various purposes beyond food throughout history. In ancient Greece and Rome, mustard’s medicinal properties were used for almost every ailment—Hippocrates even praised its ability to relieve pain. 

Though mustard is no longer considered a cure for epilepsy, as the Romans once believed, it is still used as a holistic treatment for arthritis, back pain, and sore throats.


While the earliest mention of noodles was found in a dictionary dating to the third century A.D. in 2005, archaeologists discovered an earthenware bowl with 4000-year-old noodles at the Lajia archaeological site in China.

Noodles are mentioned again in the Jerusalem Talmud from the fifth century A.D., where they are called itrium. A string-like pasta made of semolina and dried before cooking is described by Syrian physicians several centuries later.

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