As anyone who works in the industry will tell you, the domestic food and beverage industry is very mature and extremely cut-throat with little real innovation and growth.
Soylent is a beverage intended to supply all of a human body’s daily nutritional needs, made from powdered starch, rice protein, olive oil, and raw chemical powders. From it’s campaign page (the fundraiser was a raging success) it positions Soylent as a food replacement, because “food is a hassle”.
Media has clamored to try the product, and the results are, ahem, mixed.
In an earlier post, we discussed how McDonalds tried to solve the “slow food problem” by replacing the Big Mac’s paper girdle and foil wrapping with the polystyrene box. The end result was heralded as a miracle solution. Food could be served in half the time and the plastic-foam container kept the temperature of the food.
In hindsight, we know the remedy was worse than the disease. Environmentalists discovered, to their horror, that the clamshell polystyrene box lasts for eternity in the landfill. The solution didn’t serve man, but instead caused an even greater global problem.
Soylent is another so called solution that could conceivable create problems. Sure, this newfangled anti-food will likely become a billion dollar global enterprise, but it also ultimately be a failure and frowned upon in modern society.
Why? Imagine a Soylent-saturated world where everyone eschews sit-down food. Eating becomes inconvenient, even uncool. Now everyone can eat on the go, no more “slow food” dilemma.
What would happen to family dinners, one of the few opportunities for busy families to congregate and share time together? Families and loved ones would be robbed of the “ceremony” and benefits of eating together.
Eating together civilizes people. It’s emotionally and socially edifying. Studies show that families that dine together stay together. Their children are healthier and get better grades. It also lowers the risk of weight problems and alcohol and substance abuse.
Eating real food persisted throughout human history because it’s more than about eating. It’s about expressing love through preparation. It’s about nourishing one another and friendly conversations.
Time will tell how far Soylent will go. There’s already a myriad of similar products like Ensure and Boost that provide a similar purpose.
One thing is for certain: saving time isn’t worth powdered beans if it can’t be spent with the people we love.
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