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The Fascinating Process of Human Decomposition

Body farms are intriguing places. They are the only place where we can legally observe the decay of a human being in an age where death is either hidden or kept far removed from most of the public, and remains are disposed of as quickly as possible.

Body farms are intriguing places. They are the only place where we can legally observe the decay of a human being in an age where death is either hidden or kept far removed from most of the public, and remains are disposed of as quickly as possible. Death is a dirty, scary thing to most people, and we’ve forgotten that for most of our history, witnessing death and decomposition was a frequent and accepted occurrence. Before we developed special systems to deal with the masses of dying people, we would see our neighbors, friends and family at death’s door, and once they had passed through it. What was once a celebrated event, done openly for the world to see, is now hush hush and taboo to speak of; and if you are interested in it, many people will wonder if all is right in your head. The short documentary below from Vox inspired this train of thought in me as they explore the Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF), a 26-acre body farm, the largest human decomposition research facility in the world. Opened in 2008, FARF has already watched 150 bodies slowly decay on their grounds, with another 200 in the pipeline (ie. still alive). This short documentary outlines the stages of decomposition, complete with stomach-churning images and description (I also included some gross photos of bodies at FARF below). While I do find the death and decay of human beings compelling and natural, don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating for a return to the old “dump the body on your street for the gravediggers to cart away” times. There are good public health reasons for the way we do it today. But I do think it’s important to discuss death, and how the decaying human body starts a whole other food chain, eventually nourishing the earth and making fertile ground for vegetation. Our part in the system is not limited to life, we are in Earth’s cycle from conception to decomposition.

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Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avery McMahon

    January 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Matthew Crouse, instead of an organ donor, can I check this?

  2. Matthew Crouse

    January 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Avery McMahon

  3. Negin I-z

    January 21, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Death is a natural part of life, falsely made ‘dark and edgy’ because of the uncertainty and the constant taboo of it, hiding it away in modern times.

    This is really great idea. More people should learn about death and stop finding it eerie. Cause viewing natural processes of decay and rotting dark/edgy and controversial and continuously unaccepted is getting really really old.

    • Sebastian Will

      January 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      I agree, but people don’t like it, because it reminds them of their own mortality and it shows them graphically how they will end up eventually. I’d like to hear from those pre-registered donors why they became donors, though. It is one thing to donate your body to science, but it is another thing to do it in order to let your body rot away on a field in Texas.

    • Negin I-z

      January 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Strange how that is when mortality was taught to kids at a young age in so many cultures in the past.

      Yes, I am also curious to hear a pre-registered donors point of view as well.

  4. Άνθρωπος Αγράμματος

    January 21, 2015 at 9:04 am

    So dark end edjey

    • fukcshit

      January 22, 2015 at 3:26 am

      like your faggot ass name?

  5. str8jacketx

    January 21, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Really (barf) interesting (bAAARrFF).

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