Writing prompt: foraging

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Foraging” (This prompt inspired by the well-known Danish foraging restaurant, top-rated Noma.)

 

“Announcing the release of the Forage 1000! For the low price of $1000, you can virtually eliminate grocery costs!”

Sylvia showed Tanisha the ad. Tanisha couldn’t share Sylvia’s enthusiasm. For one thing, she didn’t have nearly the shares in the product. But for another thing, Tanisha always felt a little sad when scientific breakthroughs went toward such short-sighted uses. And there was that third thing…

“So what about when everyone has one?” Tanisha asked. She had helped write the software that finally allowed machines to approximate an animal sense of taste. “Then these foragers won’t find much of the cheap grasses and fungi and bugs you’re promoting it for.”

Sylvia shrugged. “I think that’s a pretty good problem to have. Then we up the price. Or make a new one that finds things the old one didn’t.”

Tanisha sighed. She had to say it, she knew it. But it was hard giving bad news to funders. “You can’t.”

Sylvia crossed her arms. “Spit it out.”

“We still have this little problem,” Tanisha said. “It’s not perfect about identifying poisons.”

Sylvia sat.

“The body is complex. Something can taste good but have trace amounts of toxin or parasites or bacteria. Or just be bad for you like antifreeze. We didn’t know until a few weeks ago when we started to use a larger sampling range. Two dead mice.”

“We can fix that, right?” Sylvia said hopefully. “You’re going to fix this.”

Tanisha nodded, and Sylvia left, already on the phone. She turned to the ad. “How am I going to fix this?”

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