Monday, February 20, 2017

Fruits & Vegetables

Genefixing and editing (usually called "hacking") has much more broadly opened transhumanity's horizon when it comes to plants and especially foodstuffs. Selective breeding and hybridization were standbys of agriculture for centuries but the genetic manipulation technology of the past few decades has caused an explosion of transgenic fruits and vegetables, unique plant genelines and unusual creations of genehacking. Below are a list of only a few examples of what sort of new hybrids can be made in this day and age.

Derived from the marketing idea of the "grapple" or "grape-apple", an arape is a fruit (specificially an apple) which has been hybridized with a grape to produce the proper chemicals and compounds which give natural flavoring to a grape - the result is an authentically grape-flavored apple. Arapes are very niche, and only seen in small amounts in Venus and Mars or in trade with large food producing hypercorps due to their need for orchards, though Arape wine is becoming common as a fad. The name was a bit of a marketing blunder, and the "e" at the end is usually stressed in order to avoid being offensive - in English anyway.

While not strictly biologically a fruit, the "beer root" is a rhizome root which has features which resemble natural fruits - in that it's roots naturally produce sugars, and when combined with yeast cultures naturally ferment into alcohol - which can then be extracted. A hybrid of several plant species, Beer Root is intended to allow relatively simple production of what many consider a staple - as the result also has carbs. It is quite popular in some areas such as the LLA and Jovian Republic which are known to have habitat environmental problems, producing sterile food and drink supplements.

Almost assuredly a Scum-based prank, these derive from several fruit-bearing vines and shrubs but instead of normal sugars and vitamins, the fruits are loaded with explosive or flammable compounds. This makes them unpleasant tasting and slightly toxic to eat, but this is not the point. Bomb Fruit usually come in two varieties - contact and wicked. The contact variety produces chemicals such as nitroglycerin which explodes when sudden pressure is applied, and the wick form actually have a stem which acts like a wick or fuse, burning down until they explode over the course of an Action Turn. Both deal damage roughly equal to a HE Minigrenade in a 1 meter radius.

The dream of small children everywhere, "candy tree" actually refers to an entire class of hybrid plant. These have been modified to have a chemical process which not only creates natural sugars, but also crystallizes them similar to hard candies. This results in simple batches of naturally flavored candies in place of fruits - and are excellent for uses in certain kinds of cooking, or just as a treat or luxury. As they are still nominally based on many trees, they often require some space which reserves them for rich or industrial production.

Based on an artificial flavor, this is a hybrid of the cherry and the lime - which produces slightly smaller, reddish fruit with flavors akin to the cherry but with citric acid added. Many people seem to like the taste, and more importantly citrus provides valuable vitamins for most transhumans they may not obtain other places. This means they can be a common sight among traditional citrus fruits and other hybrids on many habs large enough to have a grow-area.

Based on countless mythological tales, the golden apple is a derivative of several apple breeds which draws on metallic elements to produce a skin which is actually "golden" (though a high percentage or purity of gold is not guaranteed). While possibly slightly toxic, metallic levels are generally low enough for humans to consume - at least in measured portions. Because this involves heavier metals and has no real appeal besides novelty, Golden Apples are almost entirely grown and consumed by the upper class of the inner system as a display of wealth and taste.

Developed by a Japanese biotech firm, the "Holy Bean" is supposed to be a wonder plant for basic nutrition. It is fast growing, high yield, and the dry fruits of the stalk are incredibly nutritious - though they may be a bit bland tasting. They can also be derived into a "tofu" like substance which allows them to visibly or via texture replace many other forms of food in the diet. While the patent is still held and used by a major hypercorp, demand for "wonder food" plants has died down as Maker technology progresses - as they can produce basic "nutrient brick" foods which perform similarly much more directly.

Another tree derived from mythology, if a incorrect one. There is a fruit bearing plant called "lotus" which does not resemble the traditional flower, and is believed to be the one described in The Odyssey, but this does not make for as striking a visual image. The result is a short tree or tall shrub which grows a type of lotus flower which has very thick petals, and can be consumed. They are nutritious, but laced with a mild hallucinogen which may disturb short term memory or cause the person who eats one to show inappropriate emotional responses. Some of these trees are rumored to grow the narcotics known as "Petals".

The painfruit is a bizarre "class" of fruits which have been genetically modified to have something resembling a nervous system, and thus experience minimal tactile feedback which can be said to be akin to "pain". As the plant and fruit of it really have no major intellect for the feedback, it's hard to even say it's cruel because it does nothing besides perhap slightly stress any living cells in the plant, but it has become popular with some Exhumans and other fringe types who wish to eat fruit for nutrition but prefer "live" prey of a sort. Painfruit was originally made as a meme for an "anti-vegan" movement, to get back a vegans for talking about how vegan they are all the time.

This unusual plant blends the line between "plant" and "animal", but not in a way like the Whiplash pod. This transgenic base which resembles bananas has fruits which are created to produce animal or animal-like proteins and fats. The result is a fruit which has "flesh" which strongly resembles eating animal flesh, i/e "meat". While the plant's natural system keeps the fruits from spoiling, many people find it uncomfortable or unpleasant to eat the fruits raw - but they taste excellent cooked. This hack was originally made as an alternative to vat growing meat or herding animals, but is still very niche.

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