15 March 2013

Chemicals - it's what's for dinner


Excerpts from the story in Vice:
Rob Rhinehart – a 24-year-old software engineer - ...found himself resenting the inordinate amount time it takes to fry an egg in the morning and decided something had to be done. Simplifying food... Rob has come up with an odourless, beige cocktail that he calls Soylent...

Soylent contains all of the nutritive components of a balanced diet, but with just a third of the calories and none of the toxins or cancer-causing stuff...
"Everything the body needs – that we know of, anyway – vitamins, minerals and macronutrients like essential amino acids, carbohydrates and fat. For the fat, I just use olive oil and add fish oil. The carbs are an oligosaccharide, which is like sugar, but the molecules are longer, meaning it takes longer to metabolise and gives you a steady flow of energy for a longer period of time, rather than a sugar rush from something like fructose or table sugar...

I think it's possible to use technology to make healthy food very cheap and easy, but we'll have to give up many traditional foodstuffs like fresh fruits and veggies, which are incompatible with food processing and scale.
I don't think we need fruits and veggies, though – we need vitamins and minerals. We need carbs, not bread. Amino acids, not milk. It's still fine to eat these whenever you want, but not everyone can afford them or has the desire to eat them. Food should be optimised and personalised. If Soylent was as cheap and easy to obtain as a cup of coffee, I think people would be much healthier and healthcare costs would be lower. And I think this is entirely possible."
With a hat tip to reader kline, who found the article.

18 comments:

  1. What does he mean by "sugar rush"? Research says it's a myth (link on my pseudo).

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    1. Think blood sugar rush, not adults running around like it's recess. AKA low on the hypoglycemic scale.

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  2. Make it into cookies (and add chocolate chips to sweeten the deal) and I'm in! But drinking stuff...I think I might have some gag reflex action going on.

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  3. Colon cancer in 3...2...1.....

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  4. Because we need to take food advice from someone who can't take the time to fry an egg.

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  5. Puts me in mind of Marshall Efron's Lemon Cream Pie from the early '70s:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHLPm5XHDPw

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  6. You know, a little green food coloring and…

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  7. Soylent green! Its made of people!

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  8. I cannot imagine life without fresh fruits and vegetables!

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  9. This is exactly what Optifast is.

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  10. What a horribly bland existence.

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  11. Needs some soluble and insoluble fiber.

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    1. this was my thought exactly. What will this do to his colon?

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  12. Our dietary needs are incredibly complex. While this may work in the short term or even (possibly, I haven't really looked into the details much) the long term as a supplement with some real food, I don't think this is a sustainable diet. There are countless trace minerals, vitamins, and other components in food that are likely not being accounted for here. These may be things we can do without for a long while without any negative effects, but I suspect that it will ultimately lead to problems down the road.

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  13. What a boring if super snappy life this young man must lead. I eat food for sustenance, yes, but I also eat it because it is one of the chief pleasures of life. So many textures and tastes and odors to be explored. Others have pointed out the lack of fiber content problem, but I'd like to put in a plug for the extreme lack of fun content. I like to spend a goodly portion of my day making and consuming food and I am sorry for those who are unable to take the time to enjoy it. Software will not soothe your sore throat like homemade chicken soup will, nor will it give you brain freeze like scarfing ice cream on a scorching July afternoon. It cannot replicate the sweet crunch of a slice of watermelon or the joy of spitting seeds at your friends. Food is so much more than fuel for our bodies - it can be food for our souls if we let it.

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  14. I know of a guy (my ex-wife's uncle) who did this back in the '70's. All he would eat for dinner was vitamins and a heap of mashed potatoes. He said it would make him live forever. He died in a car accident before he turned 40. True story.

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