SOLYENT: ITS PEOPLE
“First we eat. Then we do everything else.”
For the past 5,000 days or so, many in the world have been inhabiting a science fiction universe. We swoosh around in electric cars and make video calls via personal wireless com devices. We access art and fact on pocket-sized glass tablets. We are all famous for at least fifteen minutes a day and benefit from comprehensive vaccines, bionic limbs, and genetic medicine.
It can be argued that here in the first moments of truly living in ‘the future’, things are un-topian. We are all too modern to hold out for pure utopia. However, that is no reason to develop scifi hubris, lose our heads, and launch headlong into the dystopian potential.
The greatest achievements of our scifi world are ones that connect – connect people to people, people to their role in ecology, people to ideas. This is why a recent development getting lots of press is so confounding – as an artifact of the Early Connection Era, Soylent stands out as particularly out of step. Sure replacing all your meals with a single dose of super powder is a scifi concept. And yes, even the name is borrowed directly from the science fiction cannon. But otherwise, no, this is not Connection Era stuff. Meals are. Cooking is. Dozens of books about connected eating and cooking abound. The current food thinking is mostly centered on the social and spiritual joys of sourcing and cooking and sharing hand crafted beautiful meals. It takes MFK Fischer as a patron saint, not Harry Harrison (no offense, Mr. Harrison!).
That Rob Rhinehart, a 25 year old software engineer, can crowdsource 3.5 million dollars from to develop a ‘food substitute’ is symptomatic of something. It signifies a marked disconnection. In her New Yorker piece on Soylent, Lizzie Widdicombe explains Rhinehart “began to think that food was an inefficient way of getting what he needed to survive.” Life, and preparing food in particular, is about so much more than survival. It is about joy and thriving and connection. Real nourishment can not be addressed with scifi powders. Lifehacking your way around meals is like visiting the Louvre only for the parking and giftshop.
Watch a few YouTube videos, learn how to cook a few honest dishes. Go from there. You will no longer suffer from the false dichotomy of no meals vs. no meals. Instead, you will be a better person – and likely stronger when the Cylons come to claim their prize.