Soylent the new food?
An Oakland based start-up company has created a complete meal replacement, and they called it Soylent… lets just get this out right now.
This is a surprisingly good movie by the way!
The idea is that, if you can cram every single important nutrient into one powered drink, you can go without eating. Umm, because that sounds great! Its like a protein shake on steroids, instead of the protein shake drinker being on steroids.
Steroids are a hell of a drug!
So what are the drawbacks to Soylent diet?
The media outlet Motherboard recently had one of their reporters go on Soylent for an entire month. Surprisingly, nothing too bad happened as a result of it! He more or less was completely healthy after the experience. I am posting the Motherboard video at the end of this post.
Although, he did complain about the more psychological effects that resulted form his experience. Food has historically been a constant source of community interaction, but Soylent takes that away. If you have a meal replacement, you are not only replacing the food, but the whole experience of the meal itself. Imagine never eating with friends, or family, or never collecting around the dinner table? Kinda sucks right?
What would Norman Rockwell have to paint about?
Brian Merchant, the brave sole from Motherboard to go on the diet, started to get pretty depressed by the end of the month. He didn’t go out as much, he saw his friends and family less, he even developed a vitamin D deficiency, not from the drink, but because of his lack of exposure to sun light. His girl friend complained that he even smelled like Soylent. This does not instill much confidence in Soylent.
The drawbacks aside, CEO Rob Rhinehart makes quite a few good points.
1) We are not going to have enough food someday.
2) Farmers markets are not going to solve the problem.
3) We need a “future food” to deal with the new world.
4) People always fear change at first.
In my opinion, he is right on all accounts. Check out this graph of the world’s population growth:
Notice the sharp increase at the end? Yeah that’s not so good.
There is a term that biologists use for the problem this graph illuminates; carrying capacity. An ecosystem is only able to sustain so many organism until it cannot support any more. Take a wild guess what happens next? I’ll give you a hint, it involves a lot of people going on a diet. Rob Rhinehart is absolutely right, we need a solution, and we are going to need one pretty quickly.
Hell, we already need one! There a millions of people that suffer from chronic hunger every year. Soylent might not be THE answer, but it could be ONE answer. At least it is a step in the right direction… a goopy, powdery step. I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from one of the most important people you have never heard of, that pretty much sums up the problem Soylent is looking to tackle:
“You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomaches and human misery.”
– Norman Bourlaug, The man who fed 2 billion people
Norman Borlaug on Penn and Tellers Bullshit