Waste Not, Want Not

There are some problems here.

The planet is damaged, depleted by agricultural/industrial pollution and deranged by greenhouse gases; it’s overpopulated and over-policed; the land, it is exhausted; the oceans, they are dying.

Or so it was set forth in the 1973 cinematic dystopia Soylent Green.

Several years ago I ran this film for someone who had never before seen it. When it was over, she said: “I’m glad I waited to see this until it had become a documentary.”

In Soylent Green, the answer to no food and lots of people, we learn, is to grind up lots of people into food. Sister, brother, auntie, uncle, cousin, nephew, friend, grandma in the corner, too—all transformed into flat green crackers, distributed to the hungry, unknowing masses each Tuesday: “Soylent Green Day!”

So far as is known, here in the “real” world, people are not yet being foisted onto other people as food. However, according to this here tubes newspaper, we might soon be munching on something sort of getting there: to wit, human feces.

Seems the folks at Tokyo Sewage approached Mitsuyuki Ikeda, a researcher at Okayama Laboratory, and told him they had too much sewage mud, and wanted him to help them get rid of it.

Ikeda took a look at the stuff, and discovered that it is packed with protein. Ikeda and his fellow Science Men then teased out those proteins, combined them with a mystery-monikered “reaction enhancer,” and then put the stuff into something called “an exploder.”

When this baffling alchemy was completed, the Science Men had created an artificial steak, quickly dubbed “the poop burger.” The Ikeda group shot some red food coloring into the thing, and enhanced the flavor some with soy protein: now, it is said, avid consumers report “it even tastes like beef.”

Excrement steaks are currently ten to twenty times the cost of traditional slices of beef, but the poop-people figure they can eventually sell the stuff for roughly the same price as meat cut from cows. They argue that feces flanks are not only good, but good for you: 63% protein, 25% carbohydrates, 3% lipids, 9% minerals. Fat-free!

The poop-patty partisans argue that “the meatpacking industry causes 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to the release of methane from animals”; indeed, people not yet ready to go to intestinal squeezings as one of the primary food groups are nonetheless pitching as environmentally sound Dr. Frankenstein-type ventures into growing “cultured meat” in labs.

Bowel-burger zealots also point out that animals demand a large amount of space, and have the effrontery to want to eat food themselves.

However, all these problems will be obviated once people can be trained to feed on their own feces.

Professor Ikeda understands the psychological barriers that need to be surmounted knowing that your food is made from human feces. They hope that once the research is complete, people will be able to overlook that ugly detail in favor of perks like environmental responsibility, cost and the fact that the meat will have fewer calories.

Now, it should be noted that the same lab that is churning out bowel burgers, is also working on something called the “e-kiss.” This will allow people spatio-separated to “physically transcend the distance keeping them apart.”

The engineers are developing a Kiss Transmission Device which aims to simulate the entire experience of a kiss.

The present, rough-looking model consists of two straw-like devices connected over a single PC. A user takes a device and swirls their tongue around one of the straws. Then, the way the A-straw interface is moved is transmitted to the B-straw device which mimics the movement[.]

[T]he researchers aim to recreate all the elements of a kiss including a sense of taste, the way a person breathes and even the moistness of the tongue.

These Wondermen have already perfected the “Sense-Roid,” a device that “mirror[s] back the same hug given it by using sensors, vibrators and artificial muscles; basically allowing a person to hug themselves.”

So, soon, one will be able to chow down on a colon product, then reach out and kiss someone over the intertubes, and, finally, hug oneself, for a job well done.

Brave new world.


9 Responses to “Waste Not, Want Not”

  1. 1 Jill June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I saw this mentioned on another site just now and passed over the headline. There are just some things we do not need to know about. The thought of eating shit is one of those. I understand that there is protein and perhaps other nutrients that could be recycled, but wouldn’t it be better to recover those things and just not explain where they came from? And one other thing comes to mind. There was an article today about how they are looking into sewage as a way to track drug use. Just who’s poop would we be using for these burgers? I am all for innovation in feeding the world, but they need some serious marketing on this one. Thanks for the article though! 😉

    • 2 bluenred June 23, 2011 at 5:28 am

      You’re right, that there are some things we do not need to know about. ; ) I was just sort of flabbergasted by this thing, particularly so when it became apparent that these people are serious.

      The Japanese bowel-burgers, I figure, will be easy to discern from the rest, because, thanks to Fukushima, they will glow in the dark. ; /

  2. 3 Plink Piano June 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I always thought that what is excreted has already been stripped of the majority of its nutrients and is therefore considered “waste” by the body. I find it difficult to believe that there is a significant amount of “good” stuff left in poop, but I suppose the Science Men know what they are talking about.

    By the way, I saw Soylent Green as a small child and was forever warped by it. I think you may have been the one that introduced me to it. Oh well. Charlton Heston has always been one of my favorite actors and it was Edward G. Robinson’s last film, so no matter what it’s a great one to me. I even went out and bought the novel, “Make Room, Make Room” after I saw the film, although I don’t think I ever read it.

    Thanks, as always, for the interesting blog.

    • 4 bluenred June 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      It was my impression too that what leaves through the sphincter has been stripped of most essential nutrients. But maybe that was a Lie. Or, now that we really need more nutrients, They have decided there’s more Good Stuff left in there than was previously appreciated.

  3. 5 possum June 28, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Artificial meat is on the horizon if or not the ‘poop-burger’ is part of that process. At the current rate of degradation of our world we may even see recycled humans one day on the plate. In any event artificial meat has many advantages for the environment once the process is refined enough to bring the price into competitive levels. Get ready folks. Science Men are on the march.

    • 6 bluenred June 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

      Yes, there was a piece in the Daily Mail yesterday about “test tube beef.” Some excerpts:

      The first ‘test-tube’ hamburger is only a year away, scientists claim.

      They believe the product, beef mince grown from stem cells, could pave the way for eating meat without animals being slaughtered.

      The Dutch scientists predict that over the next few decades the world’s population will increase so quickly that there will not be enough livestock to feed everyone.

      As a result, they say, laboratory-grown beef, chicken and lamb could become normal.

      The scientists are currently developing a burger which will be grown from 10,000 stem cells extracted from cattle, which are then left in the lab to multiply more than a billion times to produce muscle tissue similar to beef.

      The product is called ‘in vitro’ meat.

      ‘We are trying to prove to the world we can make a product out of this, and we need a courageous person who is willing to be the first to taste it.

      ‘If no one comes forward then it might be me.’

      He told Scientific American magazine that he thought the first burger could be made within 12 months.

      In 2009 scientists from the same university grew strips of pork using the same method. They admitted it was not particularly appetising, being grey with a similar texture to calamari. Fish fillets have been grown in a New York laboratory using cells taken from goldfish muscle tissue.

      Even if the initial results do not taste quite the same as proper meat, scientists are convinced the public will soon get used to it, especially if they do not have a choice.

      The world’s meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 as the population increases.

  4. 7 possum June 29, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Test tube beef leaves some of my colleagues without a job. That is an effect many will not care about one way or the other. Yet the benefits to the globe are important. Science Men march on.

  5. 9 possum June 30, 2011 at 3:43 am

    Science men march where the marching is good. Bones or no bones they follow the trail of both interest and funding. Funny stuff science. Just like the rest of our world a lot has to do with the ongoing pursuit of money.

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When I Worked

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