A few months ago I wrote a blog posting introducing Soylent and its crowdfunding campaign. Soylent, a powder you mix with water to create a substitute for regular food, caused quite a “stir,” not just because its name evoked the sci-fi movie, Soylent Green, but also because when its campaign first went public on Crowdhoster it raised more than $1,000,000 on the funding site. Since then Soylent has purportedly received additional investment of $1.5 million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian. A visit to their websites, however, shows no sign of their financial commitments to the company.
Rob Rhinehart, who is both founder and inventor, claims he has been living mostly off Soylent. So have a number of beta testers. The testers who have been trying Soylent for these past few months have described it as pretty bland. And it appears no one has suffered from malnutrition by consuming it exclusively. On the other hand I am sure a diet of this consistency is bound to impact normal digestive processes.
Some secrets about its constituent components have recently been revealed. We now know that it is a concoction of rice protein, olive oil, starch and a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals (see picture below). With plans to ship the first commercial batches in December 2013, Rhinehart plans to use the latest investment money to hire a culinary expert to improve taste and texture.
At current pricing a week’s worth of Soylent costs around $65 U.S. The company hopes to drive the cost down to as little as $5 U.S. per day.
Is Soylent an answer to the world population growth and hunger? More a fad I think than a problem solver. The real solutions lie in agrifood initiatives like the ones described in a recent posting here at 21st Century Tech blog.