Nicholas Kim, age 13, asks:
Is living inside of pineapples true? Spongebob, a typical childrens show. Well, why cant humans do the same! Its much simpler than building a house, you only need to find a way to make huge pineapples, but in the end it would save the world a lot of resources and money.
Mr. Kim, it is an interesting idea you propose. It also reminds me of the story “James and the Giant Peach,” where James and his buggy pals live in (as the title suggests) an oversized peach. There are two main problems I see with this plan.
The first is that fruits, however large, tend to be sugary and sticky. Not only would it attract sweet-eating insects, as the giant peach did, but it would be an unpleasant texture for daily living. When I get up to make myself a cup of coffee, the floor in my house doesn’t squelch, and I don’t have to put on galoshes to keep my feet from being covered in sticky juice. This is an advantage that traditional houses have over fruit, and I like it that way.
The other problem is that fruits tend to spoil more quickly than we would like. When you go to the trouble to make a house, you want it to last for a while — a month at least. If your house collapses into putrid slime, and you have to continually be making new ones, well that’s just too much work. I’m willing to vacuum weekly, but moving all my stuff — my sticky stuff — to a new pineapple once a week, sounds like a lot more work than I’m willing to do.
However, I don’t believe in throwing out ideas just because there are obvious objections. I regard these instead as challenges to be overcome. Why not have a fruit-based house? It would be cool. We just have to find a way to make it durable and non-sticky.
Gourds already grow fairly large and have a structure that supports their weight, so it may be easier to create giant gourds than other fruit. Indeed, history (well, Mother Goose — similar to history) suggests that pumpkins have been used for housing. Hollowed out and dried, many species of gourd harden into a durable shell that could be further preserved with eco-friendly varnishes — plus, the tasty interior could be used to make pies, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Pie is not the answer to every problem, but it will do until the real answer comes along.
The other consideration is that gourds and other plant growths tend to have curvy sides, while most furniture, is built with the assumption that your walls are straight. However, once the pumpkin-house movement gets into gear, I’m sure furniture manufacturers will accommodate it. They might even find a way to grow curvy furniture rather than build it — if they don’t, Science will.