MADISON, Wisconsin — In the fight to end the global food crisis, a young software engineer may have an answer.
The engineer, Rob Rhinehart, is the inventor of Soylent, a liquid, consumable product that contains the necessary nutrients and minerals needed for survival. By mixing the dry powder with an oil blend, one obtains a liquid drink that has the texture of a milky substance. Its taste is apparently rather generic and non-offensive. Soylent suggests its consumers mix their Soylent with other products, such as peanut butter, to tailor the liquid’s taste to a personal preference.
A complete daily serving of Soylent costs $9 per day. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe. Soylent argues that its product offers more macronutrients per dollar than any other food source. It also allows its consumers to actively customize its open-source formula as a means to continuously improve the product.
Since Soylent’s inception, those fortunate to taste the product of their own have voiced concerns about whether Soylent is an ultimately sustainable food substitute. Due to its recent arrival on the market, no significant long term studies have been done (Rhinehart asserts he has lived almost entirely off of the product for months and has even reported a number of positive results, including increased mental cognition).
Though it may appeal to those with busy lives whose work weeks are too hectic and time-crunched to prepare a proper nutritious meal, the controversial product may have another benefit: aiding the global fight in food production and security.
Today, malnutrition is a contributing factor of nearly 2.6 million child deaths each year. Apart from the physical effects, malnutrition leads to hampered cognitive development. The average American, given fluctuating diets, typically does not receive the required nutritional guidelines as suggested by health officials. A malnourished, starving child in a Third World country scores far poorer.
However, a product such as Soylent could provide a potential remedy to this malnourishment. Because Soylent contains an adequate amount of the macronutrients and minerals necessary for survival, mass production and distribution of it could benefit millions of starving children and adults.
Rhinehart acknowledged his desire to decrease the price of Soylent to five rather than nine dollars a day. Such a price drop, as well as mass production of the product, could make Soylent more accessible to distribution in food-inadequate countries.
Nevertheless, though Soylent may not completely replace meals for the average American, it imposes a potentially powerful antidote to the global food crisis.