When we talk about poop, the things that are conjured up are usually a healthy morning number two, or the mess the little doggie leaves on your front lawn every morning. Other than that, it pretty exists to clump up on the bottom of your shoe and make you accidentally curse in front of children, right?
Well, surprisingly, there are many other uses for this most magical of stinkbait. Poop has been utilized throughout the ages for a variety of things, some of which are quite shocking, to say the least.
Combined, American dogs and cats create about 10 million tons of feces annually. Like any other type of disposable garbage, it goes to a landfill, where it just sits and grows. So there are literally mountains of poop out there.
But one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure, meaning that poop is an energy source that is as of yet untapped, at least in America. This energy source is known as methane fuel. San Francisco is the first American city to toy with the idea of converting animal feces into an alternative energy source. And why not? It’s not like it will ever run out or anything. Electricity, natural gas, and fuel can be manufactured from feces. In San Fran, the plan is to collect the feces and put it in a methane digester, a conversion machine. And after two weeks, you have your alternative energy.
As for home usage, it may still be a long way before feces is our primary energy giver, as an average household just does not produce enough for convenient usage. Except on Taco Tuesday.
Okay, in case anyone’s interested, here’s a recipe for feces pie. First, attain some rice straw (chopped of course) some rice husk, water, and cow feces. Now mix everything together and begin pulverizing the mixture with your bare feet. Eventually, hands will be needed, as the pie has to be first fashioned into balls, then flattened out into discs, 30 centimeters in diameter and 3 centimeters thick. After all of this is completed, allow the feces discs to dry out in the sun.
But don’t get too hungry — this is not a recipe to make pies for eating (no matter what the girl in the picture may think,) but rather these “pies” are made to be utilized as cooking fuel. These pies are primarily made in rural parts of India, where cooking fuel is a necessity, as they don’t have access to the conveniences developed countries like the US have.
8. Feces House
Courtesy of rural India once again, we have examples of huts that are completely made out of cow feces. Villagers get together in a group and take heaps of dung and build upon it, adding more and more feces, using their hands to fashion it in the shape of a hut. The purpose of such a house? To protect other, more valuable poop. Yep.
See, in India, they undergo monsoon seasons, which are quite ferocious. The feces are valuable (such as for the cooking oil described above,) and if left out in the open, the winds and rain will destroy it. So the surplus feces are put into these dwellings, which number in the hundreds. After they dry, they are strong enough to stand up against the fierce monsoon winds. And these houses can actually be quite elaborate, as the people make them with very intricate and detailed architectural designs.
Eating feces, as crude as it sounds, is actually part of a sound medical therapy known as fecal bacteriotherapy. People who become sick with intractable diarrhea have signs and symptoms that involve prolonged bouts of diarrhea, extreme malnutrition, and dehydration. Infants (of whom the condition can become life threatening) and adults can contract this form of illness.
Patients afflicted with this condition are administered feces from a healthy relative, to raise the level of healthy intestinal bacteria and fight off the diarrhea. The process by which the healthy feces is administered to the ill patient is multi-faceted. The human feces can be given through an enema, in capsule form or through tubes fed directly into the stomach.
6. A Sexual Aphrodisiac
Consuming human feces for sexual gratification is referred to as “Coprophilia,” which is derived from the Greek words for “feces and “liking.” When a person is afflicted with coprophilia, they have an innate urge to taste or consume poop, or observe someone defecating. Coprophilia can even be done as a sex act, with the participant’s defecating on one another. This is known as “scat” sex, and can be highly dangerous, as the female vagina is especially vulnerable to infection by fecal bacteria. Also, ingesting human feces can bring about a myriad of health complications, such as E. coli, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and internal intestinal parasites.
While coprophilia is most closely associated with sadomasochism, it is only considered an issue if it begins to interfere with work, life or other functions, or it becomes an obsessive compulsive behavior.
Surprisingly, feces have also been incorporated into the art world. There have been art pieces of which the main ingredient was not paint, but poop. One prime example of this is the English artist Chris Ofili, who is known to utilize and combine elephant feces into his works of art. Perhaps the most controversial of his pieces was the work entitled “The Holy Virgin Mary,” which debuted in 1999 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In the piece, the Virgin Mary was surrounded by graphic pictures from pornographic publications and films. In addition, the figure of the virgin was surrounded by elephant crap.
The art created a firestorm of controversy, offending many of the city’s Catholic residents who felt that it deliberately demeaned one of the most sacred icons in their religion. Mayor Rudy Giuliani was so offended, that the City of New York engaged in a lawsuit with the museum over the displaying of the piece. As of now, the piece is in the possession of a private owner.
Tanning, the process of turning animal hides or skins into leather, was one vital to survival in everyday life. The process was pretty gruesome, and required a person with a cast-iron stomach, not just to deal with animal tissue, but also the ungodly stench. 18th-century Paris, for example, was recorded as having a horrible stench in the air, and one of the main culprits was the tanning shops. When these shops received animal hides, they still had tissue attached. So the tanner would first remove the tissue and then soak the hide in human urine. Afterwards, the tanner would scrape off the hair.
Here’s where the feces came into play. Tanners would often hire children to go around town collecting as much dog feces as possible to be used in the tanning process. Once they had enough, the poop was put into basins and mixed with water or urine. The tanner, using his bare hands, would knead the skins in the poop and pee mixture, until it became malleable. Now imagine all this in 90-degree weather.
In Thailand, there is a company that manufactures paper made out of poo. And the brainchild of this idea is a Mr. Wanchai, whose motivation is to help the plight of the elephants in his country. Mr. Wanchai, after passing a paper processing center, went to the local elephant conservatory and collected piles of dung that he just brought home, much to his wife’s surprise and chagrin. After failing at making the paper himself and using the family food processor to cut up the feces, his wife gave him a choice – either stop collecting feces and focus on his employment, or get the paper right and focus only on that. Well, he did that and succeeded, even keeping that food processor as a reminder.
In case you wanted to learn a new trade today: making feces paper involves washing the poo-poo for five hours, spinning it for three hours to cut the fibers, turning it into balls, sifting it into frames, drying and sanding the surface, then finally, manufacturing the paper for sale.
Civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak, is an Indonesia coffee that is made using coffee beans extracted from the feces of the Asian Palm Civet, which is a small furry creature, indigenous to Asia. Basically, the Civet is fed coffee beans. It is said that the digestive process the coffee beans undergo in the intestinal tract of the animal improves the quality and taste of the coffee, though this has been criticized and disputed.
When the Civet eats coffee cherries, it ferments inside of the animal. The bean’s amino acid count goes up, and shorter peptides are created. This is possibly due to the Civet’s proteolytic enzymes, which the bean absorbs. After the Civet poops, workers sift through the feces, picking out the digested beans.
This type of coffee is regarded as the most expensive, internationally, as it will cost 700 American big ones for one kilo. Kinda makes you appreciate Starbucks in a whole new way, doesn’t it? Yes, they charge five bucks for a small, but at least they don’t flavor their brew with Mr. Hankey’s remains.
You likely won’t find it on ESPN (maybe ESPN 2 though, if they’re desperate enough for good 3 AM programming,) but the sport of cow chip throwing is a very big deal throughout the mid-west and rural regions of the United States. A cow chip, as the name might suggest, is nothing but pure cow dung, dried by the sun and fashioned into a disc-like shape for easy chuckin’.
First gaining popularity in Beaver, Oklahoma — the Cow Chip Throwing Capitol of the World — it spread all throughout the land thanks to traveling fairs. Beaver celebrates the sport by having an annual cow chip throwing contest. This is like the Olympic Games of Beaver, where various activities and festivities take place before the big games. Robby Deevers reportedly holds the record for longest cow chip throw, tossing one more than 185 feet during the 2001 Games.
So next time you come across a herd of cows and witness one dropping a particularly gnarly deuce, don’t just walk away disgusted. Instead, grab a handful of the stuff, make yourself a good sturdy throwing chip, practice every day, and beat that record!