Allentown Morning Call, Animal Husbandry, Climate Change, Dystopia, Evan Halper, Featherless Chickens, Future Trends, Futuristic Food, Global Warming, GMO, Modified Foods, Movie Matrix, Science Fiction plots, Writing Science Fiction
Anybody out there think last year’s weather was normal? Bounty hunters are still looking for Punxsutawney Phil. Or is it Phyllis now? Who can keep up with the changes anymore? Harder still, I’m unsure what’s considered normal. What I do know, based on the regularity of Chicken Little teeth gnashing, much of the world is warming, and farmers have been encouraged to rethink industrial agriculture.
A recent article in a local paper by Evan Halper, described how food scientists are Hot on the Trail of New Food Sources better suited to endure the hazards of climate change. You had me at “new food sources”. I love it when geneticists and agrobiologists talk shop, especially over cocktails, and think of ways to further jigger the natural world. It gives us writers of dystopian fiction new fodder in a currently overcrowded, literary genre. I had a little fun on the subject last year with the idea of synthetic meat, How Do You Like Your Schmeat. Never mind that we’ve have thrown in the towel on global warming, for a new arena of carnival freaks about to make their debut, I can’t wait for the ticket booth to open.
Crossbreeding has existed for centuries, and given us delightful creatures like hairless cats and cocker-doodles, but mention the terms “DNA, Modified, and Genetic” in the same sentence, you might find yourself hiding behind locked doors when screaming protesters assemble on your front lawn with flaming brands and pitchforks. Still, the march to modify for a hungry, hot world, continues with vigor.
The article mentioned research with an African chicken breed with a featherless-neck, an attribute that behaves like a biological radiator of sorts. Naked chicken necks are not new to the planet, Eastern Europe has the Transylvania Red-Neck Chicken, a result I imagined, arose from Vlad’s favorite rooster tucking into one of KFC’s breeder hens. Either that, or vamps didn’t like picking feathers from their teeth. An Israeli geneticist created the world’s first completely featherless chicken a few years ago as a potential hot climate alternative. These critters may be more attuned to hot climates, but it came with a few genetic anomalies that made it unsuitable, like the ability to breed more naked-chickens.
And what about the ubiquitous domesticated steer. Barring our ability to grow meat like Kudzu (see Schmeat article), scientists are also looking at new alchemy for meat on the hoof with heat loving breeds like the Brahman bull with roots in India, or the famed Longhorn steer which helped us win the west. Taste will likely be the first victim,and forget about tenderness. Cowboys didn’t complain and so shouldn’t you, though it does have me wondering the real reason behind why eating cows in India is taboo.
There could be worse alternatives to Bride of Frankenchicken. We apocalyptic fiction aficionados envision dark tales of flora and fauna reduced to dust by some man-made atrocity; the only creature to survive being the hardy cockroach. I hear the roach is quite edible, especially if you like the flavor of almonds.
If that’s not appealing, you’ve already been introduced to a food substance that s’not meat by the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar in the movie Matrix. It’s tender, teeth are not required, and it has everything the body requires.
Climate change continues to be a hotly debated subject between those who favor denial or favor answers. As for me, I’m a writer. I’ll take the naked chicken any day.
What about you? Where do you weigh in on futuristic food if our planet becomes a desert outback?