Sunday, March 13, 2011


I don't often write satire, mostly because it's difficult to do it well. Hit too hard, and you just sound preachy. Hit too softly, and your point is likely to sail right over the heads of your audience. I'll leave it to you to decide if I did a good job on this piece.

Aaron Matthew Smith- March 2011

“You’re crazy,” Cheryl said.
“I’m a genius.”
“It’ll never work.”
“It already has. Go on. Taste it.” I scooped up a spoonful and stuck it out at her.
“Doctor Reynolds,” she said, “Eric, I’m not going to eat that. It’s dirt.”
“That’s the whole point, Doctor Crawford!” I said, shoving the spoon in my own mouth. “It IS dirt! And I’m eating it!” I sprayed the front of her lab coat with mud. I swallowed.
“What does it taste like?” She asked.
“Kind of gamey.” I considered my formula again, looking over the sheets of yellow legal paper spread across my workspace. I found an empty corner on one of the sheets and scribbled ‘flavors? Maybe start with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry.’
“Eric, I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Are you kidding? This is the best thing to happen to humanity since… since fire! Since the wheel! Since the pill!”
“You actually want people to start eating dirt.”
“Well, why not?” I said, setting my spoon on the work table. I walked around the plastic kiddie pool that I’d brought into the lab months ago when we’d first started the experiments. It was filled with rich, brown earth. The lab smelled like the outdoors. “Agriculture, farming, herding, where has it gotten us?”
“Here?” Cheryl suggested.
“Nowhere!” I said. “Think about it. How long does it take for a corn kernel to grow into an ear of corn?”
“Well, it doesn’t grow into a literal ear…”
“Months. It requires tending, sunlight, water, fertilizer, and even then if there’s an early frost it’s all gone. Workers have to be paid, machinery has to be bought. And then, it has to be shipped across the country. Think about all the wasted profit.”
“Why does anyone actually farm again? Oh wait- because that’s how we make food, Doctor Reynolds. What you’re saying is… it’s…”
“It’s taking out the middle man,” I said. I could feel my own giddiness on my face.
“The ecosystem will collapse!” Dr. Crawford spread her hands. “It’s completely disrupting the food chain!”
“No, it’s making it more efficient! It’s taking out every link in the chain between the dirt and your dinner. Think about it- dirt doesn’t have to be shipped. It’s everywhere. It never spoils.”
“Bees, birds, animals, the whole ecosystem depends on agriculture!” Cheryl’s voice rose.
I shook my head. “Survival of the fittest- they’ll learn to sustain themselves off of wildflowers or something. And, best of all, animals can eat dirt too!”
“You’re saying that people should just skip growing, cultivating, farming as a whole and eat the dirt instead.”
“With my…sorry, with our,” I changed pronouns under her withering stare, “formula, dirt is safe, abundant, cheap, and healthy! This could solve all the hunger problems in the whole world. Think about it.” I carefully annunciated each word. “The. Whole. World.”
I could see Cheryl considering the possibility behind her horn-rimmed glasses. Then she shook her head, her brown ponytail bobbing. “It’s… it’s totally unfeasible. What about the farming jobs?”
“Think about this: who owns more dirt than anybody?”
“…farmers, I guess.”
“Exactly! The farmers will benefit the most from this discovery!”
“….I don’t know, Eric. I just don’t know. Is it sustainable?”
“How could it not be sustainable? It’s dirt- it’s everywhere! What’s MORE sustainable than dirt?” I waited. “Nothing, that’s what!”
“But what happens when we run out of dirt?”
I blinked. “Huh?”
“If everyone is just eating dirt, what happens when it runs out?”
“Cheryl,” I rolled my eyes. “We’re not going to run out of dirt. Come on.”
“That kernel of corn you mentioned? It multiplies, becomes millions of kernels of corn in just one season. Dirt won’t do that, Eric.”
I nudged my glasses farther up on my nose. I hadn’t considered that. “Well, that won’t be for years,” I concluded. “I have an idea for a machine that can change sunlight into food. I’ll have ironed that out by then.” I shook my head. “Honestly Cheryl, the things you worry about.”

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