Synthetic Food Takes the Hassle Out of Eating

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A tub of potassium gluconate is seen on a production table at the Soylent corporate office in Oakland, California on September 09, 2013.
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What if you didn’t have to ever eat to get all the nutrition you need? What if you never had to go to the grocery store and inspect produce, or deal with your order getting mangled at the bagel joint? What if sustaining your body was a simple as drinking a super-cocktail? Would you stop eating real food?

This dream of never having to deal with the "hassle" of food is what inspired Rob Rhinehart to create a grayish, macro-nutritious cocktail called Soylent which he concocts in an ex-garment factory outside Los Angeles.

Soylent is tasteless, odorless food replacement drink that comes in the form of a smoothie-like creation. It is made with rice protein and starch, among other ingredients, and contains 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals.

In the future, Rhinehart imagines we’ll all be eating it—with fine restaurants and home-cooking relegated to the status of hobbies. This isn’t just one man’s pipe-dream—about 20,000 customers have placed pre-orders of the stuff, totaling more than $2 million in orders to be shipped in early March.

He joins The Takeaway to discuss his product and why he wants to create a food alternative.

"It's not really a diet thing—I see it more as a life simplification tool," says Rhinehart. "Food is very complicated. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, it takes a lot of thought trying to decide what to eat all the time—there's just so many options, there's so much complexity. I think it's a lot to worry about all the time and it'd just be really nice if there's this option where you just didn't have to be bothered."

Needless to say, Rhinehart is not a foodie—the entrepreneur says that he eats Soylent everyday of the week and views food and eating as a hobby.

But what about taste?

"It's ok, it's kind of bland—in fact I prefer it that way," says Rhinehart. "If you had something that was very sweet or very stimulating over and over again you would get really tired of it. This, you know, is not the tastiest thing you'll ever have but I think that's what makes it so compelling for me—I don't have to worry about how good it tastes, it just tastes kind of complete, it's good enough, it gets the job done and then I can get on with my day."

Watch a video about Soylent below.