Rob Rhinehart has made waves in the media both online and offline recently for creating what he calls “Soylent.”
Rob 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 as “nutrients required by the body to function” (which sounds totally bulimic, I know, but I promise it’s not), Rob has come up with an odorless beige cocktail that he’s named Soylent.
This powdered nutritional concoction is purported to contain all of the nutrients that are needed to sustain human life, and is the solution to the world’s food-related woes.
This sounds fine and good and is actually quite an interesting experiment until you look at Rob’s background and his inane reasons for creating this powder:
“It’s environmentally friendly”
Nowhere has Rob Rhinehart explained where the nutritional sources of his Soylent product come from. For all anyone else knows, those nutrients came from food, thereby nullifying his points that Soylent is a way to live without food. Stuff doesn’t just magically appear in a laboratory then *poof* you’re teleported so you can purchase it in a store. It has to come from somewhere. Mankind’s technology hasn’t reached a point to where it can rearrange entire atoms in a cost-effective “green” way (while plants do this with the power of the sun). We have a long way to go.
“Soylent is easier than food”
And it’s also much worse for you too. You see, when people eat a balanced diet, they usually don’t have nutritional problems. Rob on the other hand already had a couple of hiccups a few months ago, one in which he suffered a minor sulfur deficiency. The previous critical nutrient he forgot was iron. He claims that this is just the process of experimentation, yet there is already talk of him rolling out his “experimental” product as if it were finally complete.
Judging by the amount of money they were pledged ($300,000+) there is clearly a demand for tube-fed World Of Warcraft fuel. I haven’t seen this much crowdfunding for something so silly since Anita Sarkeesian.
Rob’s problem is he is a software engineer, not a nutritionist or dietitian. While he is well-informed and educated enough to know the body needs certain nutrients, he’s applying the software development beta test phase to a product that is supposed to be a food substitute.
Personally, every time I see a software that’s in “beta test” stage I stay far away from it. Many software developers are embracing the Eternal Beta stage. Also, everyone hates betas in general; Rob is a huge one. If he had a woman cooking food for him, or if he could even cook for himself, he wouldn’t be complaining that he doesn’t eat well and doesn’t have time to cook, then this whole Soylent thing wouldn’t exist.
On another note, even the silly American FDA puts foods and drugs through extended trials before it is deemed as safe to eat. (The only way he’ll slip that one past them is if Soylent is labeled a “supplement.”) Note also that Rob has barely concocted this stuff in the beginning of the year and is already talking as if his food is the second coming of Christ. Total beta beta-testing.
“Foodies are reactionaries”
Rob’s criticized people who eat regular food as being “reactionary.” This appears to be a major case of projection, as Rob is harboring the same reactionary mentality that perpetuates diet fads and what led to this industrialized, genetically modified food mess that we have today.
He thinks that his own industrialized food product is going to save the world, and that “new” and “different” are necessarily better. My opinion is that it’s going to make it more likely for us to live out our lives in hermetically-sealed boxes like something out of THX 1138 or 1984, and living off of Soylent and Soma pills to stave off thoughts of existential dread and suicide.
The guy’s already taking a buttload of daily nootropics, who’s to say this isn’t for that reason?
“Food is a hassle”
Rob thinks that food takes too much time to cook, and that his product will benefit everyone. Clearly he has never heard of Intermittent Fasting or eating one meal per day. I have experienced both and experienced the same subjectively “miraculous” benefits that he and his followers have reported, which leads me to believe that the Soylent experiment is nothing but a glorified juice fast.
Eating one meal a day and fasting for the rest doesn’t take long, it doesn’t take much food, and it doesn’t take a lot of time either. Do I need to buy some powder to live off of? No. I’m sure that the time it takes him to mix a large batch of bulk powder for a month of Soylent is the same amount of time it would take to prepare a month’s worth of meals to freeze and heat up later.
Who is to say that Rob’s powder is what I need? I’m trying to get stronger and smarter, not “smarter.” If you have a weak, frail software developer’s body like Rob’s, who is to say that your mind is strong? A weak body is a weak mind. Sustaining the minimum is to sustain mediocrity.
“We need to change food”
Really now? Humanity has lived off of food since forever, and it’s been doing relatively fine. When we started thinking we could put preservatives into it to make it last longer than it should, we started getting cancer and shit. With that mentality, Rob is feeding into the exact same issues his product hopes to correct. I think the nootropics and lack of proper nutrition is starting to cloud his thinking. How is more of the same supposed to be different or even superior?
I must admit though, Rob raises a great point: modern food is inefficient. But replacing one manufacturing process for another is an admission that he simply does not realize that the problems lie within the system’s own mentality. Would anyone in their right mind with a proper knowledge of modern science advocate genetically modified organisms? Hell no, GMO science is based on outmoded thinking that one gene = one protein. But that’s neither here nor there.
My totally biased conclusion
Soylent is a glorified supplement, not a legitimate food by any means. Just because you can theoretically live off of it doesn’t mean that you should. It gives you the bare minimum of nutrition, like a baby formula. Baby formula sucks even though a baby can technically live off of it. Everyone knows that human breast milk is superior to baby formula for babies, so why anyone would think that Rob’s Soylent baby powder is better for you than food or even a substitute is beyond me.
Soylent is by betas and for betas who want to become omegas that never have to leave the basement. I personally can’t take Rob’s assertions and silly sales pitches about his Soylent product 100% seriously, but, hey, everyone needs to root for their own team. All of the benefits that Rob’s ardent cult followers have gained from Soylent are the same exact benefits that people receive from extended juice fasts. And while his idea is interesting to consider, Rob is a beta nerd and software developer with a clear bent for transhumanism and science fantasy. Nobody should be eating what he calls food.
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