Soylent has been heralded by the press as “the end of food,” which is a somewhat bleak prospect. It conjures up visions of a world devoid of pizza parlors and taco stands—our kitchens stocked with beige powder instead of banana bread, our spaghetti nights and ice-cream socials replaced by evenings sipping sludge. But, Rhinehart says, that’s not exactly his vision. “Most of people’s meals are forgotten,” he told me. He imagines that, in the future, “we’ll see a separation between our meals for utility and function, and our meals for experience and socialization.” Soylent isn’t coming for our Sunday potlucks. It’s coming for our frozen quesadillas.
On the surface, Soylent, at least to me, is Slim-Fast with an Apple product video. I’m intrigued by it, and it makes a ton of sense, but it has the feel of a Malcolm Gladwell article—a thin truth surrounded by a shiny veneer of big words, fancy packaging, and a futuristic appeal.
Soylent, assuming it doesn’t wind up killing anyone, does seem to be the answer to a lot of our modern questions and problems. How can we squeeze more time out of the day? How can we save the food industry from the effects of climate change? How can we reverse the trend of poor eating habits? How can we streamline food aid to millions and millions of people in the U.S. and around the world?
It’s far too early to tell—my wife and I are both interested in trying a Soylent lifestyle. But even then, we’ll have to wait until August to start. Soylent could be a fad, another shooting star in our cultural landscape. Odds are, it probably will be.
If they’ve got this right?
Boy, could it be big.