Tastes Like Chicken

By Hubert Yoshida posted 04-02-2019 00:00


In 2050, the population of the world is expected to be 9 billion versus the 7 billion today. The challenge will be to feed 2 billion more people with less arable land, less water, and less farmers. One of the increasing demands will be for protein as people demand richer foods.

If you are over 50 years old, you may remember a satirical American comic strip that appeared in many newspapers in the United States, Canada and Europe, featuring a fictional clan of hillbillies in the impoverished mountain village of Dogpatch, USA. Written and drawn by Al Capp. In one of the episodes of this series, the young hero Lil Abner discovers the Shmoo in a hidden valley and introduces them to Dog Patch and the rest of the world. The Shmoo was a lovable creature that laid eggs, gave milk, loved to be eaten and tasted like any meat desired, chicken when fried, steak when broiled, pork when roasted, and catfish when baked. They multiplied like rabbits but required no feed or water, only air to breath. The perfect solution to world hunger.


Today we have something that is close to the Shmoo. That is today’s broiler chicken. In 1957 the average chicken weighed about 1 KG or 2.2 lb. Today a commercially grown broiler chicken weighs 9.3 lbs. after 8 weeks. It only takes 2.5 lbs. of feed and 468 gallons of water to produce one lb. of chicken meat, which is much more efficient than the production of a lb. of pork or beef, with much less waste, less space and less CO2 emissions.


IT appears that chicken will be the meat for the masses.

IoT will help to increase agriculture efficiencies, reduce spoilage, and increase the freshness and nutritional content of healthy foods. The problem will not be about the production of foods, but how to build the infrastructure to provide equal access to that food to all 9 billion people. According to a BoA, Merrill Lynch, Global Investment Strategy report, populous countries like Nigeria, Pakistan and Kenya spend 47 to 57% of their household expenditure on food compared to 7% in the US and the UK.


To finish the story of the Shmoo. The Shmoo became so popular that people no longer needed to go to the stores to buy food. This caused a series of images reminiscent of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and the Captains of Industry banded together to exterminate the Shmoo. Two of the Shmoo managed to escape to go back to their hidden valley in the mountains. Wikipedia described the Shmoo sequence as “massively popular, both as a commentary on the state of society and a classic allegory of greed and corruption tarnishing all that is good and innocent in the world. In their very few subsequent appearances in Li'l Abner, Shmoos are also identified by the U.S. military as a major economic threat to national security.”

Mr. Higashihara, our Hitachi CEO, always reminds us of the Light and Shadow of Digital Transformation. With every advancement in digital transformation we must be mindful of the possible shadows which may negate our vision for social innovation.