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Last Chance to Eat

  Last Chance to Eat       Mallet G.     Mainstream Publishing 2004

Imagine flying over North America and Europe in, say, the next couple of generations. The first thing you note is how much of the land is domed with transparent plastic. All fruit and vegetables that can be are grown under glass, and those that can't, are gone, with the exception of some field crops. As far as the eye can see, wind turbines march across the land, even into the sea, like armies of giant cranes. The coastlines are back to their old shape, though, because the fish farms are no more. All factory farms have been banned since excrement, human and animal, was threatening to overwhelm the earth. Fish and beef are produced in small quantities and the animals are treated kindly. Pigs play football in their spare time and calves swing baseball bats - both sports found popular among the animal brethren.

The foodscape has changed at ground level. The two foods that scientists discovered as healthiest, most likely to extend life, were alcohol and dark chocolate. As a result, people became drunk and got fat. This sent scientists rushing back to the lab. How could it be that the healthiest things were in fact the unhealthiest? This latest crisis of confidence in food science prompted the government finally to step in, and alcohol and chocolate are now strictly rationed. Each consumer is given coupons with which to buy their weekly share, along with their beef and fish rations.

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This hasn't stopped wave after wave of lawsuits from consumers claiming their lives are being shortened. While they wait for justice, however, they can go to the foodeasy. Foodeasies sell forbidden food after dark.

Once the amount of time the industrial human spends watching something rather than doing it was put at 90 per cent, the authorities decided that the human aiming at eternal life, 'kick the death habit', must change diets, concentrate on lighter food, mainline liquids constantly. So the state uthorised hydration stations, run privately, which look like old-time Coke machines and dispense organic, plastic-like packs of liquid nutrients, flavoured and sweetened artificially. At first, there was fear that water might run out; but then a cheap way to desalinate the oceans was discovered, and global warming did the rest.

Food often looks different. Eggs now come shelled in transparent packets of some kind of organic material. Milk no longer exists; it has been replaced by genetically modified soy, once it was found there was no way to wipe out pathogens in industrial cattle. There is no butter because of the cow problem; it has been replaced by a genetically modified rape-oil spread, which tastes of nothing. There is no honey because bees were redundant once we had genetically modified plants, and only bumblebees were needed, with the occasional vibrator. There are no more apples because they were too much trouble to grow, and we are now in a trade war with China and can't import them.

The most popular fruit is the GM Viagraberry, a huge strawberry-like fruit, strawberries and raspberries crossed and spiked with Viagra. After much polling and many in-depth focus groups, consensus was reached on the favourite fruit: strawberries, of course. Raspberries scored high, but they are no longer grown as they are too labour-intensive a crop, and no machine seemed able to pick them as capably as humans, so the search was on to find some way to keep the flavour. …..

It is now common for the transgenic fruit and vegetables to be spiked with vaccines, vitamins and mood-changing drugs, excellent add-ons when it comes to sales. The AIDS-vaccine pear is hugely successful and has revived pears as a fruit. Onions are banned because they rotted too fast in the markets. They have been replaced by transgenic scalery, a mix of celery and scallion. Another successful transgenic cross is the pinemelon, a smooth orange melon tasting like pineapple, pineapples themselves proving too unreliable a commercial crop.

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Only one supermarket chain is left. Only one is necessary because most people don't cook, they eat takeaways as in 'Come on over for a takeaway', and the takeaway cooks buy wholesale. Takeaway is almost all ethnic-industrial - sushi, fajitas, lasagne, chicken tikka, fish and chips.

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Elsewhere on this website, awareness of food is promoted. [Onion Gastronomy via the "For All" button]. Here the awareness of a possible future is stimulated.

Vive Gastronomie.

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