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"The trouble with too much genre SF is that it's so obviously the product of the conscious mind."
- William Gibson

Butcher Vegetable  
  A plant that grows steaks (protein).  

In the novel, people with paranormal ability can travel to other planets in distant star systems. They can bring back knowledge (but not samples); one example is a plant that bears meat.

At this point in the story, Shep Blaine, interstellar traveler and Fishhook employee, is having an argument with a business man.

"They're taking away our very livelihood. They're destroying a fine system of conventions and of ethics built very painfully through the centuries by men deeply dedicated to the public service... There is the matter for example, of this so-called butcher vegetable. You plant a row of seeds, then later you go out and dig up the plants as you would potatoes, but rather than potatoes you have hunks of protein."

"And so," said Blaine, "for the first time in their lives, millions of people are eating meat they couldn't buy before, that your fine, brave system of conventions and of ethics didn't allow them to earn enough to buy."

"But the farmers!" Dalton yelled. "And the meat market operators. Not to mention the packing interests..."

"I suppose," suggested Blaine, "it would've been more cricket if the seeds had been sold exclusively to the farmers or the supermarkets. Or if they were sold at the rate of a dollar or a dollar and a half a piece instead of 10 cents a packet..."

From Time is the Simplest Thing, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Doubleday in 1961
Additional resources -

Another story that made use of this idea is The Pork Chop Tree (1965), a very clever story by James Schmitz that describes a tree that gives you just what you want - and makes you want to stay around.


(Pork Chop Tree by James Schmitz)

To see this piece of technovelgy made real, see the Protato, a real product recently developed in India.

Indian scientists have unveiled a genetically modified "protato" that incorporates the AmA1 gene from the amaranth plant, producing a third more protein than a non-GM potato. This latest development by researchers at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi follows the famous "golden rice" grown with extra iron and vitamin A in Switzerland in 1999.

The "protato" now faces rigorous trials and testing to prove the extra protein is digestible. The tests could take up to eight years. If approved for consumption, it could be used as a mid-day meal for Indian schoolchildren.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Time is the Simplest Thing
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Time is the Simplest Thing
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

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