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My main character, and two other people are transported to a graveyard that they can’t escape from, at least not yet. No food was transported with them, but they do have these items

  • A shovel
  • Nail Remover (tool)
  • A Barbecue grill

They are getting hungry, and so decide to eat the freshest corpses there, and they find one that was just buried an hour ago. My question is: would there be any health effects from their little “Corpse Cookout”?

The bodies are buried traditionally.

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    $\begingroup$ You can go for 3 or 4 weeks without food, as long as you're not doing heavy exertion. So they can handle not eating for a few days easily enough. Water will be the big problem. Hope they have a hose for watering the lawn or a fountain. $\endgroup$ – Dan Clarke Jun 3 '18 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ @DTCooper I know several that don't have fountains. In Arizona, west Oklahoma, and west Texas. Places with water shortages and hot weather. But you're free to include one in your tale. :-) $\endgroup$ – SRM Jun 3 '18 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ The cemetery where my father is buried has plenty of wildlife around. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, etc but also deer. So there are alternatives to cannibalism, depending on the actual skills our intrepid adventurer has. $\endgroup$ – ivanivan Jun 4 '18 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to get good answers it is advisable to wait at least 24 hours before accepting one. We have users all around the world, and waiting 24 hours gives them the possibility to read and answer your question. A green mark often drives away potential good answers. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '18 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ Cemeteries have soil and plants. They could eat plants and dig up worms. $\endgroup$ – Real Subtle Jun 4 '18 at 8:40
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The Bodies Are Toxic

I am not sure what you mean by a "traditional" burial since the definition of a traditional burial varies from region to region. Within the USA and western Europe embalming is our traditional practice prior to burial. Embalmed bodies are pumped full of highly toxic chemicals prior to being interred within a cemetery and would not be remotely close to edible, no matter how recently buried. In addition when people die within even moderately developed nations they are typically doing so in a hospital and under heavy medication when they pass, there is a very real risk of exposure to substances like Fentanyl, chemo-therapy drugs, radioactive isotopes, heavy metals, and a host of other things you don't want to be eating.

For your story to make sense you will need to be in a graveyard in an undeveloped nation where embalming does not occur and people are not seeing a doctor when they become terminally ill or critically injured. Its a bit of an industry secret that these "peaceful deaths" you hear about from old age in a hospital bed are greatly assisted by massive doses of some really high grade dope. Grandma passed so peacefully because she was tripping out of her mind on barely safe levels of Fentanyl, industrial strength muscle relaxers, and heavy opiates. So yeah, a 3rd world nation is where you want to dig up and eat your recently buried corpses because you DO NOT Want to eat that. (Any more than one would ever want to eat another human.)

Assuming you have located a non-embalmed and non-medicated corpse then your biggest risk is that you could potentially catch whatever infectious disease the person may have died from, the next biggest danger is food poisoning since you are eating meat that was not ever intended for consumption and thus has not been stored or prepared properly. Intestinal parasites are also a very possible risk.

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    $\begingroup$ @DTCooper Touching them especially on the skin is OK, the toxins are in the tissues. Rubbing the internal fluids on yourself, eating the remains, taking parts for transplants would kill you. It's like with a poison berry, you can touch the berry all you want, just don't burst the skin. $\endgroup$ – Dan Clarke Jun 3 '18 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think the meds are such a problem. We're talking about a dose dispersed over the whole volume of a body, with majority being metabolised. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '18 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ One additional point on this is that the embalming of a body is deliberately treating a body with chemicals to make the body unpalatable to germs and vermin so that the body does not decay. Your protagonists are basically just larger than normal vermin. $\endgroup$ – Michael Richardson Jun 4 '18 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ Or the cemetery should be associated with a religion that doesn't follow the "pickle 'em and lay 'em out for a week" traditions, so find a Jewish cemetery. No preservatives, heck, won't even need the nail puller - no nails in the coffins, 100% wood and cloth! $\endgroup$ – ivanivan Jun 4 '18 at 1:51
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    $\begingroup$ I have to say, this sounds like a perfect starting point for a cool horror story. We started embalming and cremating to kill off the ghouls but now they are... $\endgroup$ – kaine Jun 4 '18 at 13:01
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As a Matter of Fact, You Can Survive in a Cemetery!

Definitely don't eat the corpses, but...

You carry a blunt, heavy metal object. Cemeteries, especially in relatively urban areas, are frequented by mourners and kin. There was just a funeral an hour ago at the cemetery you're stranded in...

First order of business will be to stalk the place an keep on the lookout for a likely victim. Sneak up behind and while they're tidying the flowers on their loved one's grave, cosh the poor bugger with your nail puller. Make sure no one sees you when you do this!

Drag your fresh meat to some secluded place, like behind or between a couple of the big mausolems in an older part of the cemetery. Set your grill between the mausoleums and wait for dusk. Light a small fire there and grill away to your heart's content!

Be sure to clean up after yourself! Basic hygiene and all that: wash your hands at one of the water pumps after butchering & cooking and after disposing of the left-over inedible bits.

Be sure to hide away any valuables, money and good clothing for when you find a way to escape!

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    $\begingroup$ See, now that is just cruel lol $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jun 3 '18 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ Oh Worldbuilding. You never cease to amuse. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s no longer trusts SE Jun 3 '18 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ +1 This is the most practical answer. $\endgroup$ – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 4 '18 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ if I'm ever stuck starving in a cemetery, I'd like to be with you. - you know how to survive. :D But if there are mourners, go in and out of the cemetery freely, how can't OP's people not escape from it? But maybe, the mourners are trapped inside as well...... $\endgroup$ – Kinaeh Jun 4 '18 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose you have a good reason for not attempting to ask the (potential) victims to buy us a sandwich (instead of eating him)? $\endgroup$ – paracetamol Jun 4 '18 at 6:05
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As humans are at the top of the food chain, they're toxic wherever you are in the world: full of pesticides, disease, parasites, embalming chemicals, ... so that method of feeding is out of the question. (They died, they weren't slaughtered and kept in a fridge!)

However you wouldn't die of starvation as there are lots of flowers, shrubs and other sorts of greenery which is perfect food for rabbits! In rural areas, graveyards are full of them at night!

If you don't believe me, drive to your local graveyard tonight, turn off the lights of your car, and look! Lots of yummy bunnies, and if you drop the barbecue grill form your story line, still creepy to:

  • eat!
  • raw!
  • at night!
  • in a graveyard!

Note 1. Alternatively, drive to the local graveyard, hide behind a grave and spend the night there: do some empirical research and add the research to the foreword of your story! >:-)
Note 2: You could get around this problem by locating your graveyard in the middle of a desert...

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    $\begingroup$ At my local graveyard, there has been a HUGE cat problem lately. The city council has had to send exterminators to try and control them. Good answer $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jun 3 '18 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ If there's a huge cat problem, there's a huge food supply for cats! $\endgroup$ – SRM Jun 3 '18 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper Added a note to get around the problem. And thanks for the upvote! $\endgroup$ – Fabby Jun 3 '18 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM Mice, rats, rabbits: There's still stuff to eat without needing cannibalism... $\endgroup$ – Fabby Jun 3 '18 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @john for cats. If you can cook (grill), you can eat rat. And cats kill birds... you can intercept the ones they bring down. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jun 4 '18 at 12:42
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Some flowers found on graves such as roses would be edible as would some plants like nettles.

You'd start with that before contemplating eating corpses.

Water would be a bigger issue unless there is a fountain or a tap around there.

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    $\begingroup$ Random plant material is not a good approach to survival. People don't digest that well. $\endgroup$ – Ross Millikan Jun 4 '18 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ Rose petals are often eaten as are nettles and a lot of other plants commonly found. People are going to try to eat a lot of plants before deciding to eat a corpse $\endgroup$ – Thorne Jun 4 '18 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ I have it on good authority that nettles taste like spinach or cabbage. Plus, nettle tea/soup is easy to make if they can find water, a container, and a way to fuel their barbecue. (Note: nettle is a diuretic.) $\endgroup$ – Pharap Jun 4 '18 at 6:43
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    $\begingroup$ If you need to find food in a graveyard, you may pull up daisies or eat dandelions from the flowers, they are both edible. $\endgroup$ – castor Jun 4 '18 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ Nettle is a perfectly fine kind of vegetable. One can do a lot worse than that. The only difficulty is to get rid of the stingers. That is usually done by rinsing with oil or by a quick dip into boiling water. $\endgroup$ – MauganRa Jun 4 '18 at 10:48
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If I was stranded in a cemetery and looking for food, I'll probably start with dandelion (provided it hasn't been sprayed), but it's not tasty enough, is it?

Dig up a corpse, put it on display, kill and cook whatever scavenger comes to eat it. It would probably help if your cemetery has a tower of silence (raised structure where bodies are laid exposed to air to be devoured by carrion birds; part of Zoroastrian burial practice, among others), but I guess you cannot count on it. In north America or Europe, your characters will probably eat crows.

Vultures and Hyenas are endangered species, so make sure your characters pay due respect and help wildlife preservation after they are out of danger.

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