Do you chew you?
Bora at Science and Politics recently posted a quote of significance:
Try to go through life a little bit edibleAnd of course there's been a lot of attention paid to Terry Bisson's short story "They're Made Out Of Meat", now that it's been adapted into a short film -- no better catalyst for contemplating our true meat heritage. But the question only started seeming relevant when I read this item in "News of the Weird":
You never know when you'll meet someone hungry.
Try to go through life a little bit hungry
You never know when you'll meet someone edible.
In work by various labs in the United States, the Netherlands and Australia (reported by Toronto's Globe and Mail in March), meat was grown in test tubes, and such dishes may yet be a staple in progressive kitchens. "Before bed, throw starter cells and a package of growth medium into the (coffee maker-sized) meat maker and wake up to harvest-fresh sausage for breakfast," wrote the Globe and Mail. Engineered meat would taste like beef or pork, but could be created to be as healthful as salmon. One private group told researchers it was interested in growing human meat, but funding for any of the work will be difficult, said a Medical University of South Carolina scientist.Oddly, that's not the exact wording I read, though it's off the News of the Weird site -- what I read said specifically that the funding from the human-meat group had been turned down. So we're not actually going to get vat-grown long pig anytime soon. But it's still an interesting question: Would you eat it? Would you eat it more than once?
Dan said that he might take a taste out of curiosity, but only once. Unless it's the best meat on the damn planet, he argued, you'd only eat more than that if you wanted to make a statement (i.e. "I'm a cannibal," or more likely "I'm a rebel"), and those statements aren't statements he wants to make. But John, joining us via satellite, pointed out that human meat might very well be amazingly delicious. This might not apply to vat-grown human, but real people -- or at least Americans -- must be as tender and marbled as Kobe beef. I don't want to eat real people, and I'd only consider eating human meat if it had never been real people, but if a cow tastes better when it's been idle and beer-fed, then an American must taste fantastic too.
Furthermore, as John and I determined, we don't have any good data to challenge this idea. Most written records of cannibalism have probably (correct me if I'm wrong) come from groups like the Andean rugby team, who only went Lecter out of desperation. There was a fantastic article in a recent New Yorker, unfortunately not available online, that described forensic investigations of the Donner Party site; records show that if the Donners actually did eat their dead, they only did it after first consuming their horses, roofs, and dogs. And as John pointed out, "as they got increasingly desperate, they grew decreasingly delicious." Sure, starvation salts the dish, but a stringy and ailing companion does not make for a gourmet meal, no matter how you (ha ha) slice it.
But even if the nouveau Soylent Green wasn't exceedingly tasty, I might still have to eat it -- yes, to make a statement, but not the statement that I'm an eccentric or a sociopath. I have green hair; I don't need to make that statement. No, I feel like I might have to eat my fellow man for science, liberalism, and all that is good. Though it's true that I don't believe in zombies, I do still think it's important that not everything that's human-like has personhood. Like I said, I wouldn't eat people. Too much work, for one thing. But "human" meat grown in a test tube is human only in cell structure -- it's identical to other chunks of homo sapiens on a micro level, but it isn't a person, it was never a person, it could never feel pain, it doesn't have nerves for crissakes. I might have to scarf it down just to make the point that consciousness has significance, that not everything people-esque is people, and that you can't kill something that was never alive. I think you catch my drift.
Now that said, I don't eat red meat very often. But would I munch a humanburger for science and social justice? You bet I would.
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