#2. Foods Harvested by Elderly Robots
We've already mentioned how the future will be littered with the living bodies of the elderly, probably to the point where there won't be enough able-bodied people to do the hard agricultural work it takes to keep society going. Japan has already had years to consider the problem, and they've come up with a solution. Why not just robotize old people so they can work harder and longer?
Yoshikazu Tzuno / Getty
To be fair, "turn them into robots" is Japan's solution for most problems.
The Power Assist Suit, developed by Tokyo's University of Agriculture and Technology, is intended to make life easier for farm workers by "reducing the user's physical effort by 62 percent." With Japan's elderly now making up two-thirds of the total radish-plucking population, the suit can reduce backaches and cramps while simultaneously allowing the geriatrics to serve as the first line of defense against the Klendathu incursion.
The planned retail price of the robot is a reasonable $11,000, and it comes sporting eight electric motors. It also has sensors that can detect a wearer's movements and a voice-recognition system, and experts say that there is no more than a 30 percent chance that these suits will keep operating after the user has died inside them, creating the cybernetic zombie scenario that deep down every Japanese person knew was coming.
Yoshikazu Tsuno / Getty
"$11,000 and you couldn't include a codpiece?"
Now that we mention it, why not do away with the human element altogether? They're way ahead of us -- in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Japan is building a fully robotic experimental farm on disaster-ravaged farmland. "The Dream Project" in Miyagi prefecture is set to involve unmanned tractors for tending and harvesting crops, LEDs that act as a nonchemical pesticide and robots to box all the produce. The plan also calls for any machinery-produced carbon dioxide to be channeled back to the crops to act as fertilizer, further eliminating the need for animal life, be it human or beast, in the entire process.
Now if there was only some weird-ass sci-fi food they could raise there, like ...
#1. Scorpion Cabbage and Lab-Grown Meat
Sometimes we think that if we can just avoid the hoof and genital slurry that gets shunted into the average hot dog tube, we're doing alright. Not anymore. For instance, aside from the inevitable farts, it's hard to imagine that there could be anything unsettling about cabbage, right? How about if someone turned it into a part plant, part poisonous insect hybrid? You probably know what's coming next. Besides Armageddon.
Chinese scientists have magically infused the scorpion's poison gene with cabbage, because Chinese scientists are really aware of what it takes to get our attention. By altering the gene that makes scorpions poisonous and putting it in cabbage, the scientists can kill off caterpillar larva that would destroy the crop without harming humans. Win-win! And not creepy at all!
"OK, we should've mixed them the other way."
And this is only one of the many times geneticists have sought to improve agriculture by playing the part of Farmer Dr. Moreau. Public interest research groups have reported combinations that have included safflower and carp, wheat and chickens and soybeans and rats. Then, in case you weren't worried, they're even engineering corn with monkey AIDS. Sleep tight!
"-- and that's why I always practice safe barbecuing."
Things are becoming just as weird over in the deli aisle. Aside from the disturbing nature of the salmon engineered to grow at twice the normal rate, it appears that the meat you eat might not come from an actual creature in the future. You may have supposed that the Slim Jim people have been up to this for some time, but the first symposium on creating animal flesh entirely in a laboratory was held in Norway in 2008. And just so we're clear, this isn't a conversation about soy patties flavored and shaped to look like chicken -- we're talking about in vitro chicken grown in a lab. That you eat. With your mouth parts.
OK, maybe we owe the magical organic farming guys an apology.
E. Reid Ross does some other stuff over at RealToyGun.com.
For more weird stuff going on with your food, check out The 6 Most Horrifying Lies The Food Industry is Feeding You and 5 Horrifying Food Additives You've Probably Eaten Today.