How Long Would It Take You To Eat A Tree?

Simple question really. How long would it take you to eat a tree. 

Don't take this lightly. Don't just blurt out an answer. Take your time and think about this. How long would it take to eat an entire tree, the roots, the leaves, every bit of it. 

At some level it makes a sense; the leaves are made of lettuce, the pucks of tree trunk that get shaved off of the bottom of a Christmas tree seem like they'd fit nicely on a burger bun and the sap is made of candy. Maple syrup leaks from trees, a sweet, alluring lubricant, almost begging us to eat them. Bacon cooked over cherrywood or applewood tastes better because there is tree in it. Peaches, pears, plums, and pomegranates are all tree-borne treats and their flavors are informed by through their roots, trunk and branches. We make beer from root and suck down nuts like nobody's business, so honestly, is it really that crazy to want to eat a tree?

To figure out what kind of tree to eat, there were a lot of factors in play. I didn't want to lean towards a fruity or sweet tree, for fear that the essence of the task would be lost. Similarly, eating a sequoia or a redwood seems too tall an order.  Plus, many American's can't just stroll out back and chop down a redwood for human consumption. If we want this to catch on like the mannequin challenge, it has to be a tree that any American can walk out and find lining a street in their neighborhood. 

So what tree is that? I cross-referenced a list of the most popular street names in America with words that I knew to be types of trees and I found my answer. Oak. 

Then I had to consider the age of the tree. Through diligent research, I found oak trees for sale that were 16-years-old with a trunk that was 14 inches in diameter. The 16-year-old anything felt like it opened me up for consent jokes and the 14 inches part left me vulnerable to a world of penis jokes. 14 inches is pushing it, but in the world of the internet a few inches of liberties from some internet troll could completely derail my dead serious query. 

For this reason I fudged the numbers, making it a 20-year-old tree with a 16-inch diameter. Both within the internationally accepted guides for statutory consent and out of the realm of phallic parallels. Now we can just focus on eating wood. 

The next question would be the weight of said tree. 

This is fucked. I did not know what I was getting myself into. This suggests that at 16 inches, an oak tree would weigh 1.28 tons, or 2,560 lbs. Wow that is a lot. My research here also suggested that at 16 inches, an oak would be closer to between 104 to 142-years-old, depending on whether it's a swamp white oak or a shagbark hickory, but that's besides the point. Eating 2,560 lbs of anything seems gross, even if it is a delicious, nutritious tree. Still though, it is important to find out if this is doable within a human lifespan.

So how much do we eat a year? Well here's some good news. Americans eat 1,996 lbs of food a year. That's almost like a 13.5 inch oak a year! Suddenly this seems more doable. But before we figure that out, let's hash out another important detail. How would the tree be consumed? It's not like we're gonna just make tree steaks and hunker down with a knife and fork. That would be stupid and compromise the seriousness of this scientific endeavor. 

No, there would be two main ways to consume the tree: as a flour and as a cheese. As a cheese it would would be a thin yet chewable garnish to any meal. Ideally it would be served with one of these.

Thinly sliced enough to add flavor and texture without overpowering or making it a chore. 

The other way to eat wood is through a flour, as illustrated in this video. 

So if tree is our new cheese and new flour, all we have to do is find out how much cheese we eat a year and how much flour we eat a year, assuming it would be a 1:1 dietary replacement.

Well according to the link above, it we eat 31 lbs of cheese in a year. That honestly doesn't sound like that much. But the flour numbers are where the heavy lifting comes in. In 2018, the average American ate 131.8 lbs of flour every year. Holy fuck, we love flour! So if we replaced the flour and cheese 1:1, we would be eating 162.8 lbs of tree every year without changing much by our cooking practices.

All that's left would be to calculate how many years of 162.8 lbs of tree it would take to get to 2,560 lbs. The answer there is 15.7248175. But since we count years in decimals, so that .7248175 equals to 264.558388 days into the year, or September 21st at 55.8388% of the way through the day. Out of 24 hours, that comes to the 13.401312th hour of the day. That .401312, in minutes is about 24.07872 minutes. That .07872 in seconds comes down to 4.7 seconds, which gives a pretty damn accurate answer. To eat a tree it would take 15 years 8 months 20 days 13 hours 24 minutes and 5 seconds. 

And that's the aggressive model. A more conservative way to do it would be to make a 2:1 ratio of real flour to wood flour. That would halve the annual flour consumption to 65.9 lbs of flour a year, making it 96.9 lbs of tree annually. That would come out to 26.4189886 years of eating. That comes to 93% through the 152nd day of the year, June 1st. That's 10:00 pm, or 22.341432 hours into the day which is some 20.48592 minutes, with that .48592 equaling some 29.15 seconds.

Or, simply put, it would be 26 years 5 months 22 hours 20 minutes and 29 seconds on a conservative model.

So there's your answer. Between 15 and 27 years to eat a tree depending on how aggressive you want to get with it.

Congratulations to our closest guesser, Ben.