Soylent Shake - ©

Soylent (Green?) Take II: Cardboard?

A nutty processed food promoter is apparently pushing its new solution to the future food crisis we’re all being warned about, repeatedly, these days. But, as we related in a previous post, the idea isn’t all that new and the name of the product must have been chosen with tongue firmly in cheek…

First things first…

First, let’s differentiate between Soylent Take I and Soylent Take II: Take I had to do with a new whack some brave entrepreneurs are taking at the Seaweed Diet, claiming that their Spirulina powder is a superfood, containing almost everything one needs to survive. Trouble is, it looks and tastes pretty nasty, according to many who have tried it – usually in those green, muddy ‘health shakes’ they serve at gyms and spas. Take II has to do with an entirely man-made substance…

Soylent Powder  - © Soylent

Apparently, the makers of Soylent beverage mix powder wowed some folks at the South By Southwest futurist’s conference in Austin, TX, with high-flown claims that its product contains all the nutrients required to sustain human life. Just mix it with milk or water. And its CEO, Robert Rhinehart, also opined as how mass production of the glop might help fight world hunger. But, at its current cost of $4. a pound ($8.40 per kg), it’s priced way out of the famine relief market.


Left: Soylent Powder: Even the
looks bland…

Rhinehart is a former wireless-tech engineer who found he was spending way too much money on take-out and restaurant meals and felt he wasn’t getting proper nutrition out of what he was eating. So, he and a clutch of other engineers got together and created a ‘scientific’ blend of vitamins, minerals and other ingredients designed to give you a full day’s worth of all the nutrients you need to live.

The problem, according to reporters and bloggers who’ve tried it, is that it tastes really bland. One was reminded of Metamucil. (Well, okay – you do need bulk in your diet! But…)

What about Flavour, Aroma and Presentation?

I guess it’s stereotypical to say that one might expect cube-dwelling wireless tech engineers to overlook one or two little esthetic details when they design a product.

When I was in culinary school, I had the idea pounded into me that flavour, aroma and presentation are just as important – or more so, taken together – than the mere nutrient content of food. If it doesn’t look good, taste good and fell good in the mouth, we probably won’t choose to eat it. Soylent drink powder looks like a medium-thick vanilla milkshake and, according to food writers who’ve tried it, tastes like cardboard. I might eat it, if it was a matter of survival. But just the notion of drinking a meal without interesting texture along with complementary flavours and aromas, and something to appeal to my Sweet/Salt/Fat/Umami receptors makes me cringe. Why bother to eat at all?

It’s like trying for a baby, and you get to a point where the sex seems like work.


Let’s never forget that the pleasure in food and eating is just as important as the nutritional factors.

~ Maggie J.

1 Comment

  1. Great delivery. Solid arguments. Keep up the good effort.
    – Mills Oakley

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