Thursday, January 02, 2014

When is Poop no longer Poop?

I was washing mushrooms for making cream of mushroom soup, when it occurred to me that many mushrooms grow in rotting carcases, dying tree trunks, and poop. I made sure to wash more carefully while pondering aloud if my mushrooms were indeed grown in poop.

To this my roommate reminded me that most industries would use fertilized wood shavings, or just straight up fertilizer. To which I then remarked that a lot of fertilizers were in fact, cow manure- poop.

But of course, roommate states that after a lot of time, we don't really consider manure poop any more- because it's more like soil. But I'm sure I know many people who think that manure is indeed poop. But then, in nature, a lot of soil used to be poop, and certainly are not poop now.

So if I take a piece of poop, and leave it to the forces of nature for however long- will it one day no longer be considered poop? If it's still there in a block I'd still look at it and call it poop.

Is it the odour of poop that gives it the poopiness? Odours are actually remnants of the stomach bacterial action, creating disgusting sulphur-containing compounds, famous example being hydrogen sulphide. Of course, over time, these compounds are broken down by non-gut-out-of-body-in-nature bacteria or dissolved into the surrounding environment. At some point, the stench will be gone, take for example, dried poop- it has no stink! But alas, I still think it is poop.

So perhaps poop should be better defined by having come out of the intestinal tract of some animal? And since single cellular organisms don't have intestines, we can certainly say that alcohol is not yeast poop!

But then, if we really think about it, SOIL HAS A LOT OF POOP. After all,  a good deal of it it either came from an animal taking a squat or from a dead plant that was eaten by a worm or insect and released after passing through a smaller, but equally real, intestinal tract. But is soil really made of poop? I can't be the only one who finds this thought disturbing. There are young curious children who eat dirt after all.

Human beings can be pretty interesting about this, our own disgust at poop seems to be a species subjective trait. Many animals, like most pet hamsters, are perfectly ok eating their own poop. Worms eat other animals' poop. Hell, plants get so many nutrients from all sorts of poop.

So perhaps soil really a bunch of poop and other things and we're all just too squeamish to acknowledge this.

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