Named after the food found in Soylent Green, Rob Rhineheart believes that his Soylent will replace the need for traditionally prepared meals.
Although a software engineer with no training in nutritional science, Rob Rhineheart developed his food to replace the hassle of shopping, planning for, and preparing meals. Made up of a combination of maltodextrin, rice protein, oat flour, canola oil, fish oil, and raw chemical powders, Soylent claims to contain all the nutrition required by the human body. For only about $70 a month, it could replace your need for traditional food.
Just this month, the company has shipped out the first 30,000 units to customers, with an additional 10,000 customers a day placing orders online. This comes after a successful crowdfunding campaign and venture round which netted the company $3.5 million in startup capital.
In true hacker spirit, the project itself is completely open source. This has led to a number of websites focused on creating your own Soylent variants, where users share recipes and tips for what has worked for them.
All this said, there is a deal of concern surrounding the product according to traditional nutritionists. Appetite and digestion is a complex process, which does not simply deal with filling ones stomach up. In addition, there’s concern that Soylent lacks the trace elements that are found in traditional food. Lycopene, as found in tomatoes, has been linked to lower rates of prostate cancer. This element however, amongst others, cannot be found in the Soylent drink.
There’s also concern about the basic idea of enjoying food, as it’s directly linked to our mood. While we may make jokes about comfort food, there is scientific evidence that food affects how we act and react in our daily lives.
While there is still a matter of debate over Soylent, creator Rob Rhineheart has been living off the stuff for a year now, and claims to feel better than ever. The question is, would you replace food for a somewhat flavourless gloop?