Soylent: an ominous step


So, it seems that Soylent, a nutritional drink, has finally arrived: it has been financed by crowdfunding and venture capital, and with more than $3,500,000 of fund, the formula has been tweaked and you can make the purchase via online(even though the it takes 10~12 weeks for shipment per its official website).

I’ve known the presence of Soylent for a while, but I don’t pay much attention. More than anything, I do not regard it as a “food.” Yes, I know it may provide you all the nutritions without any hassle of making a choice, or cooking, or even chewing. Then for me, it no longer qualifies as a food. Food and cooking should not only provide nutritional value, but social and emotional ones. And that is where I feel so disconcerting about Google engineer and activist Justine Tunney’s twitter mention about providing Soylent to poor people(for more information, please read this or this)

Even though I do not view Soylent as a food with all those reasons, I really do not care about those who willingly choose that as an alternative nutritional source, including Rob Rheinhart, the inventor. The main reason he developed Soylent was that “In my own life I resented the time, money, and effort the purchase, preparation, consumption, and clean-up of food was consuming.” So if they want to trade off social and emotional value of food with convenience and liberation, it is their choice. However, it becomes problematic when somebody make other’s choice by themselves and even worse if they believe they make the situation better.

No, I do not think that the choice of food you can make with food stamp is good: mostly they are consist of boxed, processed food. And yes, it is highly likely that they are not really healthful food. But there still are wiggle rooms. In other words, there still are opportunities of cooking and eating, and enjoying all other social and emotional benefits stemmed from that process such as conversations between bites, etc., even if the food is really bad. If you make the decision to provide them Soylent instead of food stamp on purely nutritional basis, you automatically strip them of other possibilities and  opportunities and thus, it is a very arrogant and even dangerous thought. Yes, it could be taxing for some people to prepare their own food after day’s hard work and for them Soylent could be a godsend, but for some it could be very valuable moment of the day for unwinding. Even though that is not the choice entirely based on physical health, nobody should ever make the choice for them, ever.

All in all, I am still tentative about the overall value of Soylent. No, I do not believe that as food alternative, but it may still have some value somewhere along the line. However, it should not be like this. More than anything, I am concerned that it could very well be used as controlling measure potentially: food as a weapon. It is not really the unfamiliar concept, and it is probable that Soylent somehow can enter that path by gaining the momentum from  the idea that ‘this is the right choice so that we can even make the decision for others.’  I don’t deny the potential of it entirely that it can be better mean of obtaining nutritions than processed  food, but that is not the point: denying the freedom of choice, albeit the little one is very troubling, and if that means losing all the trivial bits of joys from food and cooking, there is no way I think Soylent is a welcome addition to food culture or society and thus, its rising presence seems very ominous step forward the world we never want to exist to me. I hope I am overreacting.

 

2 Comments

  • 유수 says:

    몇 달 전에 신문에서 봤는데 드디어 시장에 나왔군요. 당시 리뷰에서 ‘식도락이 인생에 주는 가치를 무시한’ 발명품이라 말한 게 인상적이라 먹어 볼 생각은 없지만요. 참 맛없어 보입니다.

    • bluexmas says:

      네, 자기들끼리 먹겠다면야 뭐 안 말리는데 뭐하는 짓인가 싶습니다.

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