Botanic – from the Greek word βοτάνη, meaning “plant.” As in botanical or botany.
Caust – from the Greek word kaustikos, meaning “burnt.” As in cauterize.
I love food. The more local, the better. I raise or harvest as much as possible, from dip-netting salmon out of the Kenai River to grafting apple trees for my Alaskan orchard. Our state is lucky to still maintain large tracts of native flora and fauna, and we work very hard to monitor the sustainability of our wildlife, be it salmon, moose, or wolves. But Alaska’s population could not exist solely on subsistence living. Our current local agriculture only produces about 2% to 6% of Alaska’s food consumption. The rest has to be shipped in from “outside.” If a disaster were to stop the shipping lanes, Alaskans would quickly starve. I heard somewhere that Alaskan grocery stores only have approximately three to five days worth of food on the shelves. It’s a scary thought.
With all this in mind, I started wondering what would happen if the entire nation – or the entire world – lost its commercial food supply. What if invasive, toxic weed species choked out the monoculture the world survives on? Picture vast acreages of wheat, or corn, or soybeans, smothered by an intractable weed. Perhaps the food crops themselves fail, weakened by over hybridization, or maybe infected with the “termination gene” currently being toyed with by biotech companies, leaving billions of people hungry. A Botanicaust.
It’s a horrific thought. Who might survive such a disaster? Amish people still hand plant, weed, and harvest much of their own food, refusing to be reliant upon modern technology. They might find the means to survive. Maybe some humans would find a way to sustain themselves in other ways, such as genetically modified photosynthetic skin. And of course there would be cannibals; the drive to survive can make people do horrible things.
What if these surviving cultures, after hundreds of years eking out a living, came into contact? There would undoubtedly be clashes as well as collaboration. An attempt to increase population, territory, and resources. A cycle of eat or be eaten.
In the midst of all this, there would also be love. Maybe an Amish man and a photosynthetic woman. Conflict is inevitable.
© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.