If you've ever wondered what you'd eat in the wake of a global catastrophe (what, you're not actively planning for the zombie apocalypse?), we now have a pretty good idea of what it would be — one backed by a little more research than your standard disaster film. In their new book, Feeding Everyone No Matter What, authors David Denkenberger, PhD, and Joshua Pearce, PhD, both engineers and researchers, sink their teeth into the question of doomsday food security. Their forecast for the fate of humanity, it turns out, is pretty sunny. (Even in the event that there is no actual sunshine.)
Drs. Denkenberger and Pearce consider eight different catastrophes: five that would destroy crops (sudden climate change, super-bacteria, super-pests, super-pathogens, and super-weeds) and three that would eliminate sunlight (asteroid/comet collision with Earth, nuclear winter, and super-volcano eruption). They came up with two solutions beyond the usual "stockpile canned food!" directive issued by emergency-preparedness agencies. In the press release for the book, Dr. Pearce explains: "We can convert existing fossil fuels to food by growing bacteria on top of [them]. Then, either eat the bacterial slime or feed it to rats and bugs and then eat them." Or, he says, we could feed rotting plant fiber to animals such as insects, rats, chickens, deer, and cows to nourish them before we eat them, or grow mushrooms on said plant fiber and eat the 'shrooms. Delish.
The authors predict that by using these techniques, we'd be able to feed the world for about five years — ostensibly enough time for the planet/climate to normalize and allow for a return to a functioning agricultural system. Dr. Pearce adds that this dystopian-future diet needn't be all bugs and fungi: "We could extract sugar from the bacterial slime and carbonate it for soda pop," he posits. "We'd still have food scientists, too, who could make almost anything taste like bacon or tofurkey. It wouldn't be so bad." So, here's hoping a hypothetical comet (or lava flow or zombie horde) spares the world's population of food scientists when it strikes.