Rob Rhinehart, a 24-year-old software engineer living in Atlanta, has invented the last food you’ll ever need to eat. He calls it Soylent, and it’s basically a very nutritious liquid meal, which is meant to be ingested the same way one might ingest actual food — for a feeling of fullness, to provide the body with nutrients — but without the other pesky things about food. Like, say, enjoying it, preparing it in a communal manner, chewing it. Screw that. Who do I look like, Alice Waters?
Rob Rhinehart (does that sound like a dude who invents fake food or what?) has actually added a pretty valuable choice to a world of food. Sure, we already have many exciting delicious options, like gruyere and chocolate and Nevada County Free Range Beef. But we don’t have as many unexciting, non-delicious foods that were developed through painstaking research of all the aspects of food and what we need from it, from micro-nutrients to proteins to fats. (Here’s an exhaustive list of Soylent’s nutritional information.)
If you are elderly or otherwise infirm, Rhinehart says, Soylent is an easy way to feed yourself when there’s no one around to help you. That might sound silly to a young or healthy person, but try opening a can with rheumatoid arthritis. Also, not cooking saves a ton of money on power bills and so on, and there are times when such savings might come in handy — and then, there are of course people who want to eat who don’t have power. Being a foodie is easy enough if you have lots of time and a sweet kitchen and not everyone has both or even either. Some people seriously want to just eat and get it over with. And Solyent makes this possible. Oh, it’s also good for losing weight. Not a surprise.
I will leave you with this quote from Rhinehart:
At this point I think scepticism is completely reasonable. There isn’t a lot of data right now, but I hope to change that. Interestingly, a lot of academics, nutritionists, MDs and biologists have contacted me and been very optimistic — it’s the organic foodies who call me nasty things. Good scepticism is things like, “You’re not getting any Boron and there is evidence Boron is an essential nutrient”. That’s helpful, and I certainly advocate supplementing Soylent with conventional food. Bad scepticism is stuff like, “This is stupid. You can’t live on powders and chemicals, you need healthy, fresh food!”
Some people seem very invested in the idea of the sanctity of nature, natural food and some idyllic view of farming, so find this idea very offensive. I don’t think that’s an evidence-based viewpoint.
I like this guy! I’m going to keep eating food, but I think he’s on to something. (If you do too, you can sign up to beta-test Soylent. Bon appetit! Wait, no — non appetit!)