September 29, 2009

"Cocoon, the fish and meat maker, is the winner of the Electrolux Design Lab 2009 competition."

"The appliance will supposedly grow meat and fish from prepackaged 'genetically modified' meat and fish.... Apparently the genetically modified prepackaged food, can be 'grown' in the cocoon during cooking, like microwave popcorn.  The process isn’t like the food generators on Star Trek. It doesn’t create food out of thin air, nor will it clone food from natural fish and meat sources.  If it isn’t the genetically modified meat or fish, you can’t grow it."

You can't actually buy the Cocoon yet. But would you want one? ("Cocoon" suggests we're going to be eating insects!)

It reminds me of "Chicken Little" — "a huge mass of cultured chicken breast, was kept alive by algae skimmed by nearly-slave labor from multistory towers of ponds surrounded by mirrors to focus the sunlight onto the ponds" in "The Space Merchants," by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth). Here's the description in the book:
Scum-skimming wasn't hard to learn. You got up at dawn. You gulped a breakfast sliced not long ago from Chicken Little and washed it down with Coffiest. You put on your coveralls and took the cargo net up to your tier. In blazing noon from sunrise to sunset you walked your acres of shallow tanks crusted with algae. If you walked slowly, every thirty seconds or so you spotted a patch at maturity, bursting with yummy carbohydrates. You skimmed the patch with your skimmer and slung it down the well, where it would be baled, or processed into glucose to feed Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.
And click on this link for a nice list of food in science fiction, with clickable details. You mayb be interested in the Butcher Plant, Carniculture Vat, ChickieNobs, Pseudoflesh, the Yeast-Beast Machine, etc. etc.

17 comments:

El Presidente said...

Isn't this what you would call a tumor if it was growing inside your body?

El Presidente said...

SLIG?

traditionalguy said...

That is one of the most de-humanizing ideas that has ever been seen. This screwed up world seems to be aiming at replacing its human population with android/human creatures, and wants prizes for its cleverness in experimenting on our lives. Food is a necessary part of human life, and replacing normal food so that slaves will not "Pollute" by obtaining their food from the sacred earth is beyond weird. The green revolution's successes in increaseing real food yeilds must been very frustrating to these new industrialised-food Nazi Scientists. I want Julia Child back.

El Presidente said...

There is a lot of tradition and genetics that have lead us to the dinner table. Science can work around the edges of this, and has been for thousands of years, but selling folks a tumor medium rare is probably a stretch.

Anyone who is appalled by genetically engineering golden rice to prevent third world blindness will have their head explode.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

It immediately reminded me of Chicken Little too!

rhhardin said...

``...scientific speculation, or fiction, cannot house tragedy because in it human limitations can from the beginning be bypassed. This idea helps me explain my difference in intuition from those philosophers who take it that a scientific speculation, or fiction, is sufficient to suggest skepticism; for example, the speculation that for all I know I may be a brain in a vat..."That one just there is you." (How would it change matters if instead of brains we took bodies in vats?)''

Stanley Cavell, The Claim of Reason p.457-458

chickenlittle said...

Chicken Little-Mmm Mmm Mmm!

Coffee hello!

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

It also reminded me of the scene in "The Fly" (the good version) where Jeff Goldblum is trying to duplicate a steak. Theoretically the dupli-steak is a perfect reproduction, but when Jeff bites into it, he knows something indefinable is missing: "The flesh, the flesh..."

In the future, people will eat facsimile food all their lives and brainwash themselves into thinking it tastes exactly like the real thing--but it won't, and they'll never know.

We probably do this already with other things.

peter hoh said...

Most likely, the meat "cooked" in such a cocoon would be like ideas that ideas that emerge from cocoons: mealy and hard to swallow.

Joan said...

Weird, and unappetizing, IMO.

I'm reminded of another sf story whose name now escapes me, in which a chef won a cooking contest only to later be reviled by the judges. His crime? He used real, actual garlic, as opposed to synthesized garlic-like compounds to flavor his grown-in-a-vat concoction.

I adore The Space Merchants. Brilliant, prescient, and funny. Sometimes I wonder why it has never been made into a movie, and then I realize we're already living parts of it. The present is a mashup of Space Merchants and Bug Jack Barron.

Richard Dolan said...

I've never read much science fiction, and your snippet about scum-skimming convinced me again that it's wise to stay away.

vw: stiers - faux beef, a jerky-like treat much favored by NASCAR fans, made from petroleum byproducts and brought to your table by Exxon. Eat it or drive it. Your choice.

chuck b. said...

How do you convert algae into carbohydrate? Algae-based biofuel, I get.

El Presidente said...

Check,

Algae come in as nice prepackaged carbohydrate bonbons. Making a biofuel from them is hard, chewing and swallowing isn't.

Paddy O. said...

I'm confused. This is new? I assumed this was how slim jims were made.

Julie said...

What link are we clicking on to find the list of food in sci-fi?

James Stroup said...

American Gods by Neil Gaiman has a character give a theory of where chicken comes from involving lengthy caterpillar-like organisms producing only breasts and drumsticks.

Ann Althouse said...

@Julie Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot to put the links in! Check the post now.