In which our intrepid hero explores anthrophagy in the blogosphere.

I monitor a number of newsfeeds via Google Reader, one of which is the excellent Weird Asia News. They recently featured an article on the practice of eating human foetuses in China. (Warning: don’t watch the video if you’re easily disturbed.)

Personally, I have my doubts as to the authenticity of the story. Nonetheless, it’s given me an idea. I thought I’d do something different: a round-up of blog reports of organised cannibalism.

If it’s just one person doing the eating, then chances are that some sort of mental illness is to blame; however, if it’s a group of people, the practice is somewhat more intriguing. Whilst it’s entirely possible that shared psychotic disorder or folie à deux may be involved, it also raises some often-unexplored questions about human society.

(Weird Asia News has another recent report, on simulated cannibalism in Japan. It doesn’t really fit the above criterion, but I guess you have to ask: “Why the hell would you want to eat meat even shaped like a human body?”)

Rosemary Ekosso, a Cameroon-born woman living in Holland, writes of racist misreportage of cannibalism in her blog. European explorers, it seems, pretty much assumed that the practice was de rigeur amongst the Caribs and in Africa. In truth, it was probably a pretty isolated practice, if it happened at all.

Ms Ekosso’s post is the first of a two-parter—I look forward to the next installment.

Conversely, New Orleans-born Ted Duplessis suggests that Europeans were responsible for much of the cannibalism in early post-Columbian Louisiana.

Mr Duplessis alleges that tales of Indian cannibalism were largely false; however, Steve Liebowitz sums up controversial findings at archaeological sites in the American southwest, suggesting that a 12th-Century Anasazi settlement was butchered by their neighbours.

Assistant Professor Kaimipono Wenger, from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, posits the interesting question of whether Keith Richards’ (tongue-in-cheek) claims of snorting his father’s ashes with cocaine constitutes a form of cannibalism. His argument is that the intent is to ingest human remains, and he brings up the point that apparently, Jehovah’s Witnesses see blood transfusion as a form of cannibalism for similar reasons.

On the topic of religion, “Pilgrimsarbour” gives an in-depth examination of the biblical precedent for transubstantiation and its relationship to cannibalism.

Silicon Valley programmer Eugenia Loli-Queru briefly brings up the topic of consensual cannibalism in her blog: would it be a slightly less unacceptable practice if the victim actually allowed themselves to be eaten? Following a few links through yields Wikipedia’s entry on Armin Meiwes, a German man who advertised on the Internet, looking for just such a consensual victim. This begs the question, when does just such an arrangement become aberrant? When survival explicitly isn’t at stake?

And speaking of consensual cannibalism, Italian-American gourmand Alfonso Cevola tells of Marco Evaristti, a Chilean-born Dane who used his own liposuction as a form of performance art—and then used the fat to make meatballs, which he canned and sold at a substantial margin. Let’s just hope he didn’t have kuru or CJD.

Regarding packaged foods, the Portland Independent Media Center has a report on the use of L-cysteine in baked goods—apparently, this is sourced from human hair! Then again, there were reports that a Chinese company was making fake soy sauce from the stuff.

If you’ll pardon my morbid humour, all this talk of food is making me hungry. I’m off to get me some breakfast…