The genetic sequence of dinner

The Associated Press reported today that a food distributor in Virginia will start tracking their beef from farm to table by monitoring a DNA tag. The technique has already been used in Europe, but people certainly have high-hopes for its utility in the US:

[I]ndustry experts say being able to follow filet mignon, rib eye and other cuts of beef back to the ranch can pay off in multiple ways, including boosting consumer confidence, upping the value of a dinner, and cutting the time needed to track recalled meats.

And the company's market research backed their belief that people are willing to pay a premium for what they consider a "value-add" product:

Tests the company did in some steakhouses it supplies, as well as surveys outside other restaurants, showed consumers were willing to pay $2 or $3 more for the same cut meat if various “pleasers” were added — a higher quality of meat, traceability, as well as how the animals were treated and fed.

Any bets on how long until there's a tableside smartphone app tracing your dinner's journey? Or maybe showing at which restaurants the remaining portions of the cow are located? Then there could be a Facebook group that will bring the remote eaters...ah, forget it.

Brian Mossop is currently the Community Editor at Wired, where he works across the brand, both magazine and website, to build and maintain strong social communities. Brian received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette College, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 2006. His postdoctoral work was in neuroscience at UCSF and Genentech.

Brian has written about science for Wired, Scientific American, Slate, Scientific American MIND, and elsewhere. He primarily cover topics on neuroscience, development, behavior change, and health.

Contact Brian at, on Twitter (@bmossop), or visit his personal website.