Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Furniture edibiliser

And for that matter, other fixtures and fittings
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This is not just about furniture but also clothing, books, soft toys domestic fixtures and fittings and in fact as large a portion of one's possessions as possible.

Two halves to this idea really. The first half is a standard of manufacture for certain things, such as chipboard, MDF, wooden furniture, cellulose-based textiles, stuffing and so forth, that materials used in its manufacture are either non-toxic or have positive nutritional value. So for example, nicking the banana chip idea from spaceship design, make certain pieces of furniture and non- supporting walls out of granulated edible flours, "glass" for windows and glassware out of sugar, plasticky stuff out of gluten-free pasta, dyes and inks from brightly-coloured micronutrients and so on. However, also protect it from degradation by sealing it in packages, taking advantage of osmotic gradients and the like. All these products are clearly labelled as such.

The other half involves a machine with a big hopper. Once an item reaches the end of its useful or reparable life, make it biodegradable by people, also known as edible. Load it into a miniature domestic materials recovery facility, separating the likes of cellulose, wood, wool, leather, silk, metal and plastic. This shreds the materials, sterilises them and digests them chemically, breaking sulphydryl linkages in the protein, separating phenol from the leather, separating the beta- 1,4 linkages in the cellulose and rearranging them into alpha-1,4, leaving some for roughage, grinding up the metal, dissolving it and turning it into mineral supplements, then manufacturing specific food items to order at the other end.

A few rather inexpert examples of what i mean:

* Silk, keratin and leather are all proteinaceous and high in sulphur-containing amino acids. Breaking the groups and rearranging them into other forms should provide edible protein in one form or another. This could be applied to wool, other animal hair based fabrics, feathers, horn or anything made from animal hides, provided of course that it hasn't been processed in such a way that it will contain, for instance, formaldehyde or chromium salts.

* Cellulose and lignin. These seem to be the big ones. Cellulose is a vast untapped source of calories. There's a one hundred kilo futon cushion behind me which is almost all cellulose and would provide enough food energy in the form of glucose for several months, and yet all we do is sit on it. Most of the lignin, unfortunately, would probably have little nutritional value, but since this would be in wood, the cellulose in that would be quite high, and we clearly do tolerate some lignin in our diets. Glue MDF together with something edible.

* Plasticky stuff. Some kind of protein again, perhaps with polysaccharides, coated in something waterproof which, however, dissolves easily in another low- toxicity solvent such as ethanol. I would go for gluten were that not rather unfair on coeliacs.

* Glasses. Coated with something transparent and waterproof such as cellulose acetate, but made of sucrose. Once shattered, this would dissolve easily in water and the cellulose acetate can then simply be filtered out.

* Dyes, inks and pigments. Been here before, i think. The likes of carotenoids, anthocyanins, flavonoids, chlorophyll and other brightly coloured nutrients. There are plenty of those.

* Metals. Steer clear of alloys high in arsenic, copper or other nasties and instead use iron, zinc and other straightforwardly nutritious trace and not-so trace elements. Dissolve them and add them to the mix, or simply put them in water and water crops with them.

Ultimately, you would end up with a substantially edible house and contents. You would be able to eat furniture, cases for electronic equipment, clothes, books, carpets, wallpaper, paint, non-supporting walls, maybe even wiring and plaster.

nineteenthly, Oct 15 2010

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       Damn teens. Eating me out of house and home."
RayfordSteele, Oct 15 2010
  

       No, this kicks in after you've eaten the kids.
nineteenthly, Oct 15 2010
  

       So, basically, a gingerbread house?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 15 2010
  

       I have to admit that the words "gingerbread house" did pass through my mind as i submitted this, but no. A gingerbread house is edible as is, and does not constitute a balanced meal nutritionally. I envisage this as including clothing, books and so forth, this wouldn't start off substantially edible in the sense that if eaten initially all it would provide would be bulk, and it would also be possible to gain more than carbohydrates from this. It's rich in the whole range of nutrients with the possible exception of lipids.   

       Also, gingerbread houses are used as bait for children, who are then imprisoned in the house and fattened up. Here, you eat your children first, then start on the house. A gingerbread house is a sort of dessert. This is a main course-type building.
nineteenthly, Oct 15 2010
  

       Hmmm... A house that is biodegradable after a slight chemical reaction... Protobiodegradable?   

       The chemical reaction would be different for different materials.
nineteenthly, Oct 18 2010
  

       This could be a little jerky, if you want to add some protein to your diet.
infidel, Oct 18 2010
  

       I am outraged over the fact that [bluebeavers] gets more horizontal space in his annotations that appear adjacent to posts. Simply outraged!
daseva, Oct 18 2010
  

       I can't help thinking that, if people find they can eat their homes, this is not going to help in tackling the obesity crisis.   

       On the other hand, I really really wish I could stop thinking.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 18 2010
  

       If you worked you could make the furniture reduce in response to same enzyme. Maybe at the sacrifice of functionality however. It'd save figuring out how to separate different materials.   

       How exactly do I get more space? I don't see it. And even if I do it comes at the price of having my name run over bits of the article.   

       You could, and it wouldn't even be that difficult - a cellulase working on a wooden frame armchair upholstered with kapok and canvas would be more or less completely convertable save a few staples and screws.
nineteenthly, Oct 22 2010
  

       G plan diet?
coprocephalous, Oct 22 2010
  
      
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