Save on embalming: Eat more Micky D's!


Every year, millions of people spend billions of dollars on funerals. While much of this money goes toward overpriced caskets and sprays of flowers, a large part goes toward the embalming of corpses.

This process, which many states legally require as a prerequisite for open-casket funerals, uses pricey, toxic fluids, various artificial foams, heavy cosmetics, and non bio-degradable plastics, to maintain a look of freshness and health. The end result is a corpse that is preserved, not for millennia, as in the case of King Tut, and not for decades, as in the case of Vladimir Lenin, but rather for a few days, just long enough to organize a funeral.

Considering the high price and questionable returns on embalming, I was particularly interested in the case of Karen Hanrahan. An Illinois food educator, Hanrahan has kept a McDonald's hamburger in a cabinet for 12 years, occasionally taking it out to show classes as an exemplar of the incredible amount of preservatives that are used in American food. While the burger has gotten a little cracked and shriveled, it hasn't decomposed, and the bun is completely free of mold.