Soylent Isn’t People; But Is It The End Of Food?

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Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the  Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

OK, here’s a question.  Fad or the future?  Early this year, a tech entrepreneur made a splash with bags of powder and oil you can mix into a goop and live on.  He called it, provocatively, “Soylent.”  All the nutrients, none of the fuss of shopping and peeling and chopping and cooking.  The news coverage said “The End of Food.”  We doubt it.  But Soylent has taken off.  Its CEO, and a bunch of others are with us.  We’ll ask why.  And we’ll check in on the private space rocket that blew up on launch this week in Virginia.  This hour On Point:  an exploding rocket, and the “end of food.”
-- Tom Ashbrook


Lee Hutchinson, senior reviews editor at Ars Technica. (@Lee_Ars)

Rob Rhinehart, creator and CEO of Soylent. (@robrhinehart)

Martha Stipanuk, professor of nutrition in the Cornell University division of nutritional sciences.

John Lanchester, contributor at the New Yorker. Author of the new book, "How To Speak Money." His latest piece, "Shut Up And Eat," appears in the November 3 issue of the magazine. (@HowToSpeakMoney)

From Tom's Reading List

Ars Technica: Nothing but the Soylent: We’re trying 1 full week of the meal substitute — "Rhinehart's intent is for Soylent to be a cheap, universally available meal replacement that can reduce a meal to a quick checkbox that you can tick and then move on with your day. Soylent isn't necessarily supposed to be the kind of thing you live on forever—though Rhinehart says he has been subsisting on Soylent for months with no apparent ill effects. Rather, this is something that you can consume when stopping to prepare food is inconvenient."

New Yorker: The End Of Food — "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."

New York Times: The Soylent Revolution Will Not Be Pleasurable — "As soon as I began using Soylent, it dawned on me that Mr. Rhinehart’s entire premise of dividing food into 'staple meals' and 'leisure meals' was suspect.It’s true that people sometimes eat meals that are mainly for sustenance (cheap frozen dinners, dried ramen, corn dogs) and other times we’re looking mostly for pleasure (72-hour short ribs). But I suspect that most of the time, for most meals, we want both sustenance and pleasure."

Antares And The Future Of Private Space Exploration

Tariq Malik, managing editor of (@tariqjmalik) Private Rocket Explosion Sparks Investigation by NASA, Orbital Sciences — "The explosion of a commercial Antares rocket just seconds after lifting off from Virginia's Eastern Shore Tuesday night has touched off an in-depth investigation into the launch failure by NASA and the rocket's builder, the Orbital Sciences Corporation."

This program aired on October 30, 2014.


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