Tag Archives: FoodImage
On Sunday, I got two chances to be thinking about scientific knowledge. About the things we’ve learned, the things that are true, the things that might be. My thoughts on this subject tend to go back to Foundation by Isaac Asimov. The era of change in those novels is all based on a period in the future when we stop advancing, stop exploring, stop innovating. Stop learning for ourselves, and instead rely on the collective knowledge of the past, the great experts of the past. Because everything worth knowing had already been discovered.
The end of science.
And every once in a while I run into situations where I feel like our collective knowledge is already flagging. Like with food. We have been cooking even more dishes that are combinations of the food groups, combining them all, feeding them to the Geek Baby and to ourselves. But often I think people just make or buy foods because we like them and not for other reasons. I’ve heard just about every kind of food defined as “comfort food” by someone…
But on Sunday, it was lawn care that got me thinking. Why do we even have lawns? Sure would be easier without all this grass, and the related mowing. And if the grass was already going to be there, why do I need to mow it? And if the grass is transplanted, why keep it? Why not kill it and replace it with more indigenous growth? And why deal with the weeds instead of just letting them go?
I can imagine reasons. Something with soil erosion. Wanting to have a yard for the Geek Baby one day (although we literally live next to a park). Having it all just in case we want it later… Because we’re not doing anything with it now. And that’s here, in a rainforest. What about somewhere in a drought? California???
Through the vagaries of my past, I didn’t grow up with a lawn or doing lawn care. It’s not like it’s particularly a school topic. It’s just kind of known… or not. Or else, it’s just kind of done… or not. And I was thinking of how it’s a small look at the sorts of knowledge that we can lose to time, to assuming it’s true or everyone knows it.
Then we watched this.
And that’s almost the exact opposite problem. New studies and new findings, constantly, always. Always innovating, always trying to carve out some new, interesting, click-bait worthy results. And not doing the secondary testing – the third and fourth. The repeatability that makes science what it is.
What’s scary with having too much scientific innovation without enough grounding like he’s talking about, is exactly the Al Roker quote. The post-modern moment of just taking a look at a bunch of studies, and finding the one that feels right to you. Holly and I didn’t even know what to say at that point. That’s just so not at all even a little bit what science is.
So what does the future look like? Do we have the old findings that we’re leaning on, and we don’t question them? Lawns, lawns as far as the eye can see… Or will we have a glut of information, contradictory, and providing no helpful guidance in life? Discredited and useless?
Holly already wrote about Food for a Science Fiction Today post, but with trying to introduce solid foods to the Geek Baby, it’s a topic that’s certainly on our minds. Holly talked about how we might run into problems with the crops, like in Interstellar. Or else, how we might be able to artificially generate food – like in The Fifth Element.
I think to get to where I want to talk about those, we have to talk about where we are today with food. Which is to say, we’ve gotten pretty far away from the origins of food, the growing of food. Because of that, would we accept a food substitute like in the video?
Money in today’s world is a vital part of how the world works and a reason for a lot of the problems present in our world. If you have more than enough money then it is always the question of what are you doing with it and do you deserve to have as much? When you have too little money it can be all that you focus on because it is the way that you can get basic necessities.
Often when looking at money in science fiction these concepts are exasperated. One possible outcome is that the concept of money in general changes, where suddenly it either does not exist or exists in a different commodity, for example food or time. The other direction is that money does still exist, but it is no longer a physical thing that gets carried around.
Oh, and sorry that this is the topic for Tax Day – totally on accident!
A direction that the world is already going and you can see in many Science Fiction scenarios is money that does not exist in physical form. This is already the case in credit cards because we just swipe plastic card and money gets transferred from point A to point B.
What happens when our medical and banking history is all accessed through a chip in our arm or some other biometric tether? Suddenly we can transfer funds at a moment’s notice and yet none of that money exists except digitally. This sort of future is often seen in Science Fiction where the world exists pretty much as it does today, but the technology has become more advanced. Some of it is that at any moment people have access to all of their funds at a moments notice because if it is digital it is accessible from almost anywhere.
No Money, No Problem
The other idea is that money no longer exists or at least does not exist in the way that we think of it. In Star Trek it seems that money does not really exist anymore, at least for the Federation. With replicators it makes sense because if you can just have items appear from nothing without a cost why do you need to pay for anything?
Another option where no money is a concern is when the resources are doled out among people. It is about everyone getting resources evenly (although this does not always work out evenly in practice). You see this in a lot of post-apocalyptic societies, with limited resources.
Then there are stories where instead of trading money for goods you trade other things. In The Hunger Games there is some money, but what is really traded – in the establishment at least – is the kids putting their names in to have an increased chance of being chosen for the games. This gets them food to be able to feed their families. Another option that is explored in the story In Time is that the commodity that humans have is time. It gives a darker look at what happens with class inequality.
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!
Food has gone from something that we had to seek out, to something we cultivated, and now is becoming something we create. Continually questions get raised about where the food we eat actually comes from and whether we really recognize all the chemicals that we are adding to our food. There has even been discussion of being able to use 3D printers for food.
Food supply can often be either a main issue or a side issue in science fiction stories because food is a vital part of keeping a society alive. Some of the problems I can see is usually in the examples of the future either there is a food crisis or we have switched to entirely created food and “all natural” is a luxury.
The food crisis scenarios are ones where the food sources that we have are either drying up or just not enough to support the growing population. This can be seen in movies such as Interstellar or books like The Wind Up Girl. In both of these situations an infection of our food source begins to destroy crops and the world cannot find a way to fix the problem.
An infection of the world’s food source is not the only potential problem that could happen – there is also the fact that the world population keeps growing beyond the real limits of what the food source can actually hold, but we keep finding a way to supplement it. In many of these situations it is just about finding a way to get people some kind of nutrition, but often it is not enough.
When I talk about created food I am thinking of things such as the replicator in Star Trek or the scene in Fifth Element where they put in a small pill in a machine and out comes a whole chicken. This is a situation where there is no food crisis because we have figured out a way to generate food. The big problem I can see with this is that there would still be pockets of natural food, but it is either by people farming for themselves (like Picard’s family) or a luxury paid for by the rich.
There are a lot of people, even in today’s society, who talk about not wanting to put unnatural things into their body. I don’t know how people would react to food that just creates itself! There is a distrust of things that are viewed as artificial and I cannot imagine that generated food would not be completely artificial. But it does also contribute to the option of the population just continuing to grow.
There are trade-offs to being able to create a never-ending food supply and being able to just have the population keep growing. At the same time down the road will we discover that some of our choices about what we put into our food have actually created other complications?