Posts Tagged ‘food’

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to reality, however dysfunctional, is entirely intentional.

The nuclear age that had taken birth, surreptitiously, in the depths of the last World War, was proving to be a promising financial disaster for countries across the globe, already pulverised by the never-ending financial crisis.

Wisdom had begun to dawn on the handful of nations that were perched high on the nuclear ladder. They realised – after decades of sinking investment in fortifying themselves – that it was essentially a costly experiment in nothingness. Since 1945, despite close encounters and promising starts, miraculously, humankind hadn’t succumbed to unreason. Half a century had passed and the world had witnessed little mass action. No wars were forthcoming. Griping was high, as a result.

Smaller nations were knocking on the door to be part of the elite Fight Club. The Wise Guys nodded sadly, as attempts to pass on the lessons of their folly to these new members failed miserably.

A Council of Nations (CON) had been strung together, amid an atmosphere of healthy mistrust and cordial suspicion. A meeting was arranged and CON Members assembled at an unknown location. The agenda was unclear but many assumed the platform was likely to be used to conjure up a consensus to waging war, and putting an end to decades of collective wasteful expenditure and inaction.

An issue, which had the potential to trigger inclusive disharmony, was the need of the hour. Suggestions were solicited and after brief jousting, Members agreed on the CON Sea. The CON Sea was a sore nerve for years. Everyone thought they owned parts of the Sea but nobody seemed ready to agree. Even to disagree.

At stake were big numbers; multi-billion barrels of crude oil and multi-multi-billion cubic feet of natural gas. Or, so everyone thought. Curiously, everyone’s interest was piqued the moment these hidden treasures were discovered. Financial considerations had a magical way of fathering sovereign interests.

The largest CON Member by size – they called it Big C – immediately jumped into the discussion. It wanted a leading voice and exercised its rights to much of the area, citing history. History was a faithful friend to those particularly gifted in selective perception. Almost all CON Members seemed to share this exceptional gift. To their surprise, Members found that their respective drawings on the map seemed to overlap with everyone else’s.

Tempers threatened to simmer, and then soar. The smaller CON members harboured secret misgivings towards Big C, whose sole reason for existence was to thwart them, or so they thought. They wanted to see Big C out, if possible, but few enjoyed the force or will for a frontal assault. Forced smiles were seen. The meeting went nowhere.

Some smaller CON Members thought of turning to U. Sham, to solicit its wisdom. Sham had a reputation around the world as the Omnipresent Purveyor of Universal Freedom, who had a curious way of landing up, often self-invited, on sensing trouble. Its advice – solicited or otherwise, frequently otherwise – was aimed at quelling trouble when it saw one. Mystically, Sham’s ‘interests’ seemed to span the globe, even in places it had never visited, or heard of, before.

This was fertile territory indeed. U. Sham yearned to get involved, but wasn’t invited. Worse, none seemed keen on extending an invitation. It hoped that someone might invoke the Mutual Defence/Security Treaty that might help it sneak in to the Fight Club. Of course, this could happen only if Big C acted unruly. Big C appeared uninterested, so far. Whether Big C wished to send a message to other CON Members or to U. Sham (or both) was not superficially clear.

Meanwhile, a few more players were in motion elsewhere. Com. Reddie, was seen in conversation with a rather preachy icon known for his pacifist stance, G. D. Ian.

Both seemed a trifle worried at this drama. They thought, not without basis, that CON Sea was really a subtle exchange between Big C and U. Sham. They had to unite, even if temporarily, to avoid being sidelined by either the former, or the latter.

Matters came to a head, soon after. But almost everyone, independently, decided that nuclear arms were an inappropriate tool for warfare as surprise element was non-existent. Something else was needed in its place. They settled for Edible Warfare.

Thanks to technology, the world now produced and ate so much food, inventories were swelling globally. Food rotted, as inefficiencies in the supply chain between inventories and those in need of food were high. It was thought fighting with Food would serve multiple purposes. It would take care of wastage, possibly solve the problem of hunger (socially responsible objectives) and would be a truly surprise element (strategic objective).

The launch of battle was disputed. U. Sham assumed Big C of hanky-panky, Big C duly reciprocated with its perception. Smaller CON Members wished to have the first-mover advantage and assumed that U. Sham would assume Big C’s assumption and would go to war anyway. So they moved pre-emptively. Reddie consulted G. D. Ian, who seemed to be in the default posture of saintly meditation. Stupor was broken, belatedly, and they decided to get involved.

D-Day dawned and bombings began. Food-laden ICBMs flew furiously hither thither. MIGs and F-s downloaded food grains, while submarines capable of carrying vast tonnage of food as payload zoomed underwater. The assault of edibles was so fierce and so much food exchanged that the world paused to wonder. No one had thought there was such a huge stockpile of food on the planet. Gluttony and wastage competed for top spot.

Hawk-eyed observers sensed certain changes as a result of this mode of warfare. Instead of cowering in fear, people began eating more free food. They ate so much that large swathes of populace succumbed to the bear hug of gluttony and obesity. Damage was mutual and widespread.

Both social and strategic objectives were met. But there was no winner.

A gargantuan amount of food was eaten. More was simply frittered away. Edible Warfare had exacted a great toll. There was massive food shortage.

Nobody seemed interested in the barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas camouflaged beneath the CON Sea.

These could not be eaten.




On The Evolution & Futility of Eating

By assigning appropriate weights to preconceived biases and no objectivity, one would be drawn to posit that the act of living out a life is an activity high on wastefulness. Being alive is a tough chore.

The aboriginal human found much nourishment in the rawness afforded by Nature. Climb a tree, pluck and devour fruits whose names early Adam did not know (or care about), or dive into friendly waters for a wondrous menu of exotic aquatica, or, if he had the motivation, to hunt for slippery quadrupeds. Everyone was entertained and lived happily; though some died in the process.

But all good things come to an end.

Nobody knows why we are here but being here, we enthusiastically look forward to indulging in belly enhancement. As mankind progressed, we experienced a bewildering desire to attain a level of culture in our eating habits. Few paused to ruminate, pun unintended, that after a very brief interlude spent flirting with the insides of the mouth, food’s journey through the gullet was swift, and once it landed in the stomach, the drama was over. Food entered the mouth in one form, journeyed in another and reached the stomach in a completely unrecognisable form. During meal times, we periodically indulge in the above activity, not once but several times over. Repeating the same set of movements.

Then, some more changes happened.

Multi-century growth in paper wealth and technological advancements led to a situation where we now produce more food than we eat more than we need. In this indecent show of gluttony are a great number of humans that go hungry.

Death is a given but we derive much thrill from delaying the process. Eating is a global bane.

Included in the assorted obnoxious wastes that are expelled naturally, in the process of eating, food wastage is a particularly unwanted consequence. Contributory factors behind this wastage can be traced to the development of another fad. Marriages.

The Futility of Marital Union

Much as death is the norm, life the exception, marriage is an exception to Nature’s evolutionary norm of polyamory. By inwasteing in medical research, we have succeeded in prolonging the exception of life. And by a jingoistic obsession with marital bondage, we have tried to achieve something similar in another arena.

Nature eventually prevails, as the chart below, capturing Marriage and Divorce trends in UK, seems to indicate.

Monetary benefits and convenience aside, there is no compelling reason for humans to indulge in the blissful ignorance of marital bliss. Through evolution, Companionship and Pleasures never knew about the existence of the M-word, which remains an entertaining man-concocted attempt at altering the course of Nature.

Radical Proposal: How To Reduce Food Wastage, By Banning Marriages

Policy actions that reverse these unwelcome trends should be welcomed and given a fair run. Much good can be achieved by addressing both these ills, ideally through a single policy.

One such radical proposal follows.

India is a good geography to begin with, for multiple reasons. In a wondrous irony, India has the second largest stockpile of food in the world yet has a quarter of its populace going to bed hungry and is home to over 40% of the world’s undernourished children. In addition to these, it is also one of the geographies best known for Big-Fat Weddings, where ostentatiousness is directly proportional to one’s apparent ‘arrival’ in society. Multi-thousand guest lists are common and understated vulgarity is scoffed at.

Some fun with numbers, to get a handle of the size of the problem. According to the Food Ministry, 100,000 weddings and social galas happen daily. Assuming a bare minimum of 50 guests are invited to the food fiesta, that’s a princely 5 million belly enhancers at work. Daily. Further assuming that the average meal weighs 500 gram, that’s 2.5 million kilogram of food. About 20% is wasted (an underestimate, most probably), so this translates into a conservative guesstimate of half a million kilogram of food wasted. Daily.

Some value guesstimates. At $5 per plate (conservative), $25 million is directed towards this display, daily. At 20% wastage run-rate, $5 million goes down the drain, quite literally, every day. ~$2 billion per year in wastage. Spread over a decade, this would dwarf Cyprus’ economy.

The distribution of food wastage is most likely skewed towards certain geographies, thanks to such ancillary activities of entertainment. Banning marriages might likely stem this rot, on needless wastage of precious food and needless wastage of (essentially worthless) money.

This would, additionally, also set right our aberrational tampering of Nature’s basic diktats of polyamory.

Successful application, overcoming intense resistance, could then encourage extensions to other geographies. Gradually, the entire globe would be covered under this policy, which shall fall under the aegis of a pan-global body, intended at rectifying Man’s blasphemy of Nature.

The body might be named, somewhat tongue-in-cheek as; Humans for humans, against Natures Laws. Which is true enough to convince unsuspecting humans to take the bait.

The inherent limitations and one-leggedness of this radical proposal is not lost on yours truly. But then, were one to ponder, most plans that humans have instituted throughout history for supposed community benefit have never really worked well for everyone and have broken down, at various points.

Going bust is the norm. One hopes this humble proposal shall be added to the long list of futile experiments attempted by Man.

No one died trying.