I have a community in a freezing polar region who occasionally resort to cannibalism to survive. This only occurs when all other food reserves are exhausted due to story based logic.
Each year/few years they designate a number of people to be standby victims. This is to avoid potential conflict over killing someone in power's sickly grandmother or favourite lover etc. If these unlucky chosen individuals are lucky, they don't get eaten and they get taken off the roster and live to eat another day, others replace them in the following roster slot. If they are unlucky...they get eaten. (Extra clarification: They have no say in the matter... while they are on the roster.)
- the roster time period does not have to be a year. It could be a number of years if it makes more sense.
- the roster system is not the question.
- the security of these individuals is also not the question but can be taken into account. (Edit - clarification these victims have no say in the matter. If they need to be tied down or come willingly is story based logic)
- how victims are chosen is out of scope.
Would the community's dietary requirements during a harsh polar winter require these standby victims to be fitter or fatter?
My initial thoughts were that: in these extreme situations the community would be needing to replace their own depleted fat reserves and would therefore require/prefer their emergency supply to have higher fat content rather than lean muscly meat. Therefore I thought that these sacrificial victims could be living a life of 'luxury' for their duration on the roster (with their potential death looming over them) . During the good years, as well as building up the communities fat reserves, they would also try and add in a living fail-safe fat reserve. Build up their victim's fat reserves while the hunting season/s are good and plentiful, in case of a future bad season?
(1) Thanks for the comments and answers so far. They are all valid points that I had already tried to take into account. I was trying to avoid story based and opinion based question so tried to narrow down the question to the crux of the matter. If you were the polar based cannibal, would you eat the fatter or skinnier morsel on offer.
(2) For those that need extra information...
First off: this question is not on the logic of the roster premise or who and how those on the roster are chosen. young/old/powerful/weak/childless/grandparent that is all good moral and ethical story stuff dilemmas. I am trying to figure out: of those in the roster group do you select by amount of fat or those that are fitter (as considered in modern day western culture).
Those on the roster have every reason to help ensure the community is ready for the winter, so that that they can survive uneaten. Many do survive their term on the roster. And if the system does end up having a fattening up program, they could potentially get out ahead at the end of their term. These days it's not often that they lose out on the deal. Back in the day? Totally another story.
The roster system was designed to stop infighting over who was to be killed. The settlement was hastily constructed and didn't have enough resources. As logic dictates, unplanned cannibalism took place, feasting on the perceived weak and ill. Illogically, the military elite did not want their own injured brothers and sisters killed and eaten, they would rather try save their comrades and eat the non vital civilian members of the group. Over a number of years the roster system was developed to ensure that those in power had no fear of being eaten or dying of starvation. Roster selection criteria has changed multiple times over the years and is dependent on story based logic.
Food is certainly preserved in the frozen wasteland they call home. They do plan ahead as much as possible. Occasionally they are sh%t out of luck and all their food reserves are used/ruined/stolen/spoiled/poisoned/ice-shelf fallen on top of it/ whatever you can think of. The roster system is still in place, mostly by tradition, but partly out of fear of what happens if the worst case situation happens. How the community at large and those on the roster react to finding out they are about to actually make use of the roster system is story based logic.
There is actually nothing stopping a community member from volunteering to prevent a roster member from being killed (but this happens even less frequently than the need to utilise the roster!). Those community members that die anyway during a harsh winter, will obviously get eaten before the Roster is used...they are cannibals, not complete imbeciles!
This is obviously not a stable or long term viable settlement system.
This is not Earth.
Thanks again for the further comments and answers. Lots of food for thought. I hope I covered everything.
(3) Choice of answer. It was hard, as the popular answer is the most logical that would apply in most normal situations/settlements. I already knew this but created this settlement based on the extreme end of the 'normal' reasoning spectrum. Humans are illogical. My community had a very abrupt introduction to the environment and formed traditions upheld by a very strong military force. I was already going to be choosing the 'weaker' undesirables for the roster while keeping those with specialist knowledge alive, at least at first. I have dropped the idea of a purposeful fattening up program but need the roster to stay put even if just for the initial start up of the community.
The chosen answer was selected because it did actually answer the question as stated, as well as answer the reality check part of the question. Even though you should eat the fat one for dietary purposes, logic dictates you start with the thin one anyway.
There were actually two answers that stand out as saying this. However, the selected answer had the extra bonus of mentioning the social acceptance of the need to resort to cannibalism.
Thanks again for all the input. It has all been taken on board.
I feel a DISCLAIMER is needed: I in no way endorse cannibalism as a long term solution in make-believe or real life. I withhold judgement on real life emergency situations until I am ever in such a position myself.