Could a new drink which is designed to meet all the body's nutritional needs spell the end of real food?
A 25-year-old software engineer may well have invented a replacement for real food, and it's coming to a doorstep near you. Apparently.
Los Angeles-based Rob Rhinehart set out to isolate the chemical nutrients of a balanced diet and reduce them to a convenient powder. As you do. He called his creation "Soylent", and one day’s vittals costs the solid food-averse consumer $9 – that's just over £5.
With this “convenient, affordable and healthy“ way to fuel your body, you can use the time that you would normally spend cooking and eating for other areas of your life. That's according to the (rather creepy) promotional video, which features an earnest Rhinehart on a chair in what looks like an underground car park.
It may just be a simple coincidence that the product shares its name with cult 1970s sci-fi blockbuster Soylent Green, a movie where Charlton Heston discovers that a drink being used to nourish humans is also a way of dealing with the problem of overpopulation.
Being the first to test out his own invention, Rhinehart has been on the substance (which, according to one early adopter, tastes a little like unsweetened cake batter. Yum!) for a year now.
That’s despite experiencing some teething problems with earlier incarnations of the formula that included a racing heart, burning sensations and pain in his joints. Nothing major, then ...
He now says the liquid diet has improved his skin and given him loads of energy, but not everyone who's tried Soylent has had a pleasant experience.
Nevertheless, with 10,000 customers a day placing orders online and reports that it’s being tested out by the US military, people seem to actually like the idea. It's not available in the UK yet.
“Eating to me is a leisure activity like going to the movies,” Rhinehart told Vice.com. “But I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day.”