Sewage burgers and the human future

Don’t eat poop.

But if you do, make sure it’s cooked.

Comforting or not, we eat poop in a variety of forms. Dogs seem to enjoy it.

D.C. Innes of World Magazine reports Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda has developed a way to turn human feces into simulated beef. He takes “sewage mud,” which is high in protein on account of its bacteria content, adds soy proteins and food coloring, puts it through his machine, and out comes chuck.

Now, there is reason to believe that this story might be a hoax, but Douglas Powell, a food safety expert at Kansas State University, views it as technologically plausible. So it’s worth considering the idea.

Innes asked me if I would eat a burger made out of poop.

Maybe, but it would have to be safely cooked.

Innes cites a bunch of philosophy I thought was cool about the same time I thought The Doors were musical and poetic genius — everyone experiments in college – and concludes that even if “harvesting scat for food would be efficient, there is this problem: It’s beneath human dignity. Dignity is not a “scientific” concept. You can’t isolate dignity in a Petri dish, but empirical science is not our only window onto reality.

Is what we leave behind after evacuating only so much protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and minerals? Are we? If we are, then God is dead and all is permitted. But no one lives that way. That summary of life does not account for life as we know it. In that respect, it’s bad science. C.S. Lewis argues that seeing man through only this lens means “the abolition of man.”

Powell, the food safety professor, is fine with this new fare, so long as we cook it thoroughly. We eat plants that grow in soil fertilized with dung, don’t we? But we don’t eat the dung.

Of course not.

World magazine: Today’s News, Christian Views.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time