In “A Modest Proposal” satirist Jonathan Swift suggested that the Irish might ease their poverty by selling their children as food for their English occupiers. For the irony deficient, Swift was not suggesting cannibalism. But he did feel as if the English were, indeed, devouring the Irish, impoverishing them while exporting potatoes during the famine that was to force so many to leave the country to survive.

Unlike Swift, Swedish behavioral scientist Magnus Söderlund has made a serious proposal arguing for the dissolution of the taboos against the consumption of human flesh. Cannibalism, he believes, could be the solution to future crop failures caused by global warming. His plan is to have people become accustomed to “the taste of our flesh gradually.”

I don’t know how he expects to do this. Will he propose an “Ethnosh Event” to tantalize our palates? Everything from American finger food to Swedish meatballs. I don’t know. Stay tuned.

So, let’s look at cannibalism. Unless you are an isolated tribesman in Papua, New Guinea, who would rather consume the dearly departed than see them destroyed by worms, you’re only eating your fellow because you’ve been driven mad by hunger or, like Jeffrey Dahmer, you are just plain mad.

A classic example of normal men driven by starvation to do abnormal things can be found in Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestseller “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex,” the actual event that inspired “Moby-Dick.”

In his book, Philbrick recounts the ordeal of the sailors who survived the ship’s sinking, left adrift in their whaling boats for 90 days. They became emaciated before their survival mode kicked in, prompting them to eye one another as potential nourishment.

History records that the first victim was an African American. (And you thought that only happened in horror movies not directed by Jordan Peele.) This is a topic not widely discussed in Nantucket, Mass., home to the Essex and its sailors. It wasn’t the cannibalism that disturbed the Nantucketers. They just found it difficult to explain why four African Americans were the first to be eaten. Nantucket was, after all, an abolitionist stronghold — what the poet John Greenleaf Whittier called a “refuge of the free.” Go figure.

According to Philbrick, whomever the sailors were eating, they lacked the one thing the human body needs to digest meat — namely, fat. So, no matter how much human meat they consumed, without fat it was of limited nutritional value.

It might be noted that women tend to outlast men in starvation conditions because we have 10% more body fat. (I hope this information doesn’t encourage another novel by Margaret Atwood about some dystopian future where, rather than breeders, women are “feeders.”)

Of course, all this talk about crop failures and eating people is folderol for dedicated climate alarmists. After all, their ever-changing apocalypse for the godless predictions keep telling us there will be no Earth on which to have crops that fail. Indeed, their cohorts in the United Nations have even recently released a report titled “Climate Change and Land,” which is full of anecdotal— as opposed to hard — data. They paint a disturbing picture of the future of crop production and food security. Never mind that reports that the estimated global wheat output for 2019 is expected to be 5% higher than in 2018.

At that rate, I can’t see the world descending into cannibalism. But should that ever occur, I do believe we will adapt as we have for hundreds of thousands of years. And as we sit down to a plate of sauteed liver, sans fava beans, sans chianti, we will find comfort in knowing that the only dilemma facing this brave new world, the only dilemma not yet considered is the question of what to do about those scrawny, inedible, holistic-er than thou vegans. I suspect we’ll find them on the north side of the last tree, fighting for the last moss.

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Community Editorial Board member Romaine Worster lives in Greensboro with her wickedly funny and brilliant husband. Contact her at

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