1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Any ideas for synthetic food in a futuristic world?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Jun 30, 2012.

    My book is set in the future - a world having recovered from a major bacterial disaster. The survivors have clung to city life , but their produce is low ( only the rich can afford actual vegetables , and cuts of meat ) because space is also an issue they've turned to a lot synthetic food. I want to sound authentic but I don't want to sound like I'm ripping off Soylent Green minus the cannibalism.

    Any ideas?

    So far I've rattled around chemical based drinks ( jeepers, now I sound like Logan's Run ) , pills to balance out their nutrition , and a legume based bar ( sort of like a fruit bar ) spiced up with meat drippings.
     
  2. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    2 ideas spring to my mind:

    1) Pills/powder that you drop into water, and the water turns into beer, milk, tea, wine, soda et cetera (The pills/powder would have been manufactured for campers/hikers/outdoorsmen before the great disaster hit society, and would have a long shelf life of 10 - 20 years in the airtight pouches/packaging they are sold in)

    2) A gelatin/jello-like transparent food material that comes in certain flavours (lemon, apple, orange) and contains a day's worth of calories/vitamins/minerals for the person eating it.
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I'd go with algae-based foodstuffs. Low labor requirements, "yuck factor" that the rich in your novel would spurn in favor of their fresh veggies.
     
  4. delphinerivers
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    delphinerivers Member

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    These ideas are not synthetic but they are ways people might use what is around and develop it. Some of the usefulness depends on how far it is into the future, how soon after the disaster.

    Algae was my first idea also. Spirulina, chlorella might be cultured from products taken from abandoned natural food stores if you have the right temps. Algae can be gathered from the wild and cultured.

    My second thought was sprouted seeds. Even weeds like pigweed which is amaranth, lamb's quarter's which is related to quinoa, wild clovers and vetches, wild oats and other grasses-- all of these can be sprouted to make more food than the dry seeds would yield. There are wild sunflowers. Even grains that may have been originally used for pet food or bird food could be used to make sprouts and short grasses that would provide nourishment. Soil brought in from outside will grow something as it is full of seeds. Where I live, Pennsylvania, if I bring dirt inside I would soon be eating chickweed, dandelion, burdock, amaranth and lamb's quarters as well as wild garlic and plantain. They would be avoiding nightshades. Pieces of rotting wood that are wet down and kept in a wild place would grow edible mushrooms as mushrooms that grow from rotted wood are non-poisonous.

    This type of thing could be crude right after the disaster but it could become more sophisticated over time. In other words, they would be using the raw materials from the earth.

    Some places have wild nuts that would still be on the ground into winter. Butternuts, pignuts, hickory nuts, walnuts and pecans are a few that would be available in the US, wild pecans only in the south and southwest. Even parks in cities could have nuts. Pine cones have pine nuts. Tree sap, especially maple, can be used for a nutritive drink in the spring by poking holes in trees and the inner back of elm can be cooked into a gruel. The early spring is the hardest time for lack of food when produce is sought.

    This is really gross, but in the early spring when food is very scarce if you leave bark around you can encourage salamanders to be where you can find them easily. Then there are slugs that you can "cultivate" by letting them eat the things that grow out of dirt that you don't want to eat. Earthworms can be dried and eaten. Frogs and fish from ponds and lakes, even in the city. Aquaculture can be developed from things that are found in ponds and lakes to grow more food.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    If there isn't a country population growing fields of food plants, there probably isn't anyone harvesting all those other plants suggested, and most of them are not suitable for intense cultivation of large quantities in confined spaces.

    What makes more sense under those circumstances would be the algae-based hydroponics, and maybe some fish ponds, too. An often used idea is some method of growing protein from nutrients in vats. Maybe kudzu genetically modified to have good protein content? Perhaps some genetically engineered animal tissue can be made to grow as an industrial product (a modified, immense, continuously growing slab of chicken heart in one story I read long ago). There has to be some source of the proper nutrients for the process, of course.
     
  6. delphinerivers
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    delphinerivers Member

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    Very true, algae is the a great idea, but any scoop of dirt is teaming with life. A crack in the sidewalk has plants pushing up; any place where there is dirt there are plants and any plant has chlorophyll and a plethora of nutrients and there are only a few that are poisonous. All plants eventually produce nutrient dense seeds, sooner yet in less than ideal circumstances because plants are programed to try to reproduce themselves. The amount of nutrition in a 12" square of earth only a few inches deep can be substantial. In a real-life survival situation the metric tons of dirt in a city would only be ignored if people didn't understand what was beneath all of those worthless side walks. Many seeds remain dormant and viable for long periods of time. The earth wants to produce life and nature works through profusion.
     
  7. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's very inspiring. Thank you.
     
  8. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Not synthetic but dandelions, berries, rose-hips, grass, bark, bugs, lizards, squirrels, birds, basically anything you can pick or eat?
     

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