People sure do like their tipple. Although Belarus leads the world in alcohol consumption with 17.5 litres of hard alcohol per individual per year (Belarus women keep that average down considerably because Belarus men consume a whopping 27.5 litres per year), Russia isn’t far behind with 15.1 litres (23.9 litres for men). The U.K. tops out at 11.6 litres on average, followed by Australia at 10.05, and the United States at 9.2. And why not? Alcohol is easy to make. It is crafted from such diverse plants as grapes, juniper berries, sorghum, corn, rice, barley, rye, wheat, and potatoes. Almost anything a person can get their hands on can be turned into booze. You know, like urine.
Bottoms up, right?
James Gilpin is a London-based entrepreneur who’s used science to turn the urine from people with diabetes into whisky. Gilpin, who suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, has taken urine from elderly diabetics who don’t have good control of their blood-sugar levels, and uses it in alcohol fermentation.
From Gilpin’s website: “Is it plausible to suggest that we start utilizing our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance?”
After collecting the urine from elderly volunteers, it is purified; the sugar is removed, and is added to mash. Fermented, distilled, and bottled as the blended Gilpin Family Whisky, the liquor is now ready to be consumed and, quite possibly recycled.
Gilpin is not alone in using a wee bit of creativity to create alcohol out of bodily waste.
Scientists at the University of Ghent in Belgium have developed a solar-powered device that cannot only create drinkable water out of piddle; it can transform it into beer. In July, the researchers collected 1,000 litres of water from urine spilled at a music festival in the town, and, yes, it is once again yellow.
University of Ghent researcher Sebastiaan Derese demonstrated to Reuters that lab coat-wearing types could have a sense of humour. “We call (the process) from sewer to brewer,” he said.
The urine is run through a solar-powered boiler, which evaporates the liquid. Nutrients found in urine are removed, and used in fertilizer. The water is then introduced into the normal brewing process. The university intends to place its purification machines in venues where masses of people gather – and pee.
Urine isn’t the only bodily product that can be used to create consumables. There’s armpit goo, for example.
In a joint effort between the University of Edinburgh and Stanford University, biologist Christina Agapakis once made cheese using bacteria harvested from armpits, nostrils, and from between fingers and toes – just to see what smells she’d find. The people who donated the bacteria were scientists, artists, and cheese makers, although the report didn’t state if the different professions led to different cheeses.
There were distinct differences in the smells. Apparently cheese made with armpit bacteria smells like feta (no word on what it tastes like), while cheese made with foot bacteria smells
like butter, and nose bacteria cheese has the classic Cold War Eastern Bloc kitchen aroma of toilet cleaner and old subway station. Not sure how they’ll market that.
Not to be outdone, University of Wisconsin-Madison MD/PhD student Cecilia Westbrook has created yogurt using bacteria from her vagina – just to see if she could do it, according to the Huffington Post. She could, she did, and claims it goes well with blueberries.
With all these innovations in booze and food production that include solar power, and utensils found in your kitchen, foraging during the zombie apocalypse might not be as difficult as the movies depict.