Soylent. Is. ???.

johnliu_gwFebruary 1, 2014

Since my crockpot, low-ing away on the counter, fairly whispers "lazy lazy cook", I decided to read up on a way to avoid cooking altogether. In fact, to dispense with eating food in the usual sense.

There is this liquid food replacement called "Soylent", a name irreverently inspired by a macabre alternative food called "Soylent Green" in the 1973 movie of the same name.

It is best explained by reading the blog where its creator first described his project: How I Stopped Eating Food What's In Soylent

His goal, as I understand it, is to eventually get the cost to $5/day for a liquid food replacement that will require no cooking and be suitable for long term, err, ingestion.

Now, some of me thinks this is pretty horrifying, and some of me thinks it is pretty pointless. After all, I want to cook! And if I simply wanted to stay fed, I could do it on $5/day, and some of you could do it on a lot less. But some of me thinks this is sort of interesting, even though I predict a commercial calamity.

Soylent is supposedly going into limited commercial production now, through Kickstarter and other investors. I have thought about ordering a week's worth ($65), but haven't pulled the trigger.

Is this of any interest to anyone? If you had a week's supply of Soylent, what would you do with it?

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By the way, there is an active group of "DIY Soylent" hobbyists exchanging formulas for versions of Soylent that can be made with materials that individuals can buy in manageable quantities. A thread on that topic:

DIY'ing Soylent seems kind of like, gasp, cooking. I could see trying it.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:54PM
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Well, I'm always interested in things I know nothing about, so of course I had to check out the links.

Of course, I'd never actually ingest the stuff, I don't even like smoothies, no way would I be able to gag down those concoctions. Well, maybe if I could use it to bake cookies or something else unhealthy, LOL.

I like to cook and eat far too well to actually use the stuff, but I know people who probably would.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:34PM
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It's the equivalent of artificial insemination instead of the more, ahem, traditional method!!!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:46AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Gosh, believe it or not, I've seen the movie that this term is from. It was a most ridiculous movie. They spent the entire 2 hours trying to figure out what was in the 'Soylent' substitute food that everyone ate, and in the end it turned out that they were eating other people. Pretty disgusting.

I can't imagine someone actually using that name for a product.

No, I wouldn't have any interest in taking a food 'substitute'. To me it's the age old conflict, between the natural world and all that is 'man made'. I stick to the natural world as much as I possibly can. I also don't think it is a good idea to fool around with your health. If you are healthy keep it that way.

I enjoy gardening and cooking and eating. And if I didn't want to cook or I was on a stringent budget, or my life was too busy, I could find foods to eat that would still be healthy and organic to eat. And I want to eat food that I bought and prepared and know what I am eating. We have a small food processor on the counter and it's a very quick and simple thing to make a green smoothie, with Kale, Celery, a half an avocado and a cup of blueberries, my current favorite. You don't even have to chop anything. A quick soapy rinse of the processor and you're done.

We make home made yogurt in a yogurt maker and there's always a container of that in the refrigerator and plenty of fruit in the freezer to make blending up a yogurt shake a breeze. Warm oat bran in the morning can barely be called cooking, when it takes less than ten minutes on the stovetop with just water added. Real oat bran in the bins at Whole Foods that has nothing else added. Chop up a half an apple into it, add some cinnamon. Delicious, healthy, fast and easy. Add some ground up flax seed to the top and you get a good dose of omega 3s. A simple coffee grinder and 30 seconds to grind them. Or a Kind bar from Whole Foods if you are really in a rush.

And for more substantial meals, we have some favorite soup recipes, and a chili recipe that we will make a pot of on a weekend and put individual servings into the freezer and that is also very quick and easy to take it out in the morning and heat it up for lunch or dinner.

I could live off those few items for months without much else added. Maybe some salmon and salad for dinner a few times, or broiled chicken with a sweet potato and a vegetable. Pretty simple basic stuff.

I guess I don't understand the attraction to making or using a food 'substitute'. But especially one with the name 'soy lent'! lol

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:23AM
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Severe food shortage is very real.

There is a possibility that the current deep chill blanketing a good part of the country will happen every year.

There is a possibility that the severe drought in California and other parts of the country may be a permanent weather condition.

World War III can happen any time, (The tense military confrontation between USA, China and Japan now) can trigger total disruption of all systems, with cyber warfare technology added to remote unmanned destruction capabilities.

Having a different way of food production is not a bad idea.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 8:21AM
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I agree with prairiemoon. I can't believe anyone would actually name a "food" product after the subject of that movie. What a disgusting idea.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Thanks, Prairiemoon, although I knew the reference I never saw the movie and was wondering what soylent was. And here I thought it was a bad name because it sounds like a soy product, which it's not.

I can definitely see some practical use for such a product - emergency food storge, handing out on Atlanta freeways in a storm, force feeding hungerstriking Guantanamo detainees, etc.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:37AM
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"Severe food shortage is very real", and I couldn't agree more, but most people don't have enough food for 1-3 months, and those that do, may not have the "right" kind of food.

In an article I read several years ago - "The U.K. is only 3 missed meals away from total anarchy." Plato said, "society is just a few meals away from barbarism."

With just a quick look at soylent, it's missing all-important and essential enzymes, which we get from fresh food. I have 3 levels of home food storage and in my long-term emergency foods level, we use grain grasses (juiced), sprouts (your little garden-in-a-jar) and micro-greens for fresh food high In nutrition AND enzymes. I'll also include herbs grown indoors as part of our all-important fresh foods. By storing seeds that will sprout, you can also plant them to make more, which is something you can't do with soylent.

The "Seven Survival Foods" are grains, legumes, sprouting seeds, sweetener/s, salt, oil and powdered milk (which is optional). Somewhere in my files someone said you could live on wheat only - as long as you sprouted a portion of it for consumption.

There is a synergy in whole foods that can never be found in any other form. Without a source for fresh food you will probably not have enough enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:48AM
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Other alarming situations which can cause global food crisis.

"Colony collapse disorder," of bees which is still being studied, will totally cause unthinkable crisis.

Monocrop cultivation, GMO pracitces, and China's going into mass cloning, have we forgotten what happened to the "Potato famine"?

That's why I said pay a little attention to Grainlady's wisdom is not a bad idea.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:35AM
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I think Islay Corbel put it very well. If I had a week's supply, what would I do? Probably do a study on its effectiveness as a toilet and drain cleaner.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:56AM
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I did read the entire blogs and despite the author's infomercial-like style, I found them interesting and informative.

We've previously had discussions here about "live to eat" vs. "eat to live" and not surprisingly for a Cooking Forum, "live to eat"-ers were in the majority. I would think that Soylent aficionados are simply on the more extremist side of the "eat to live"-ers.

The one aspect that I found most appealing was the time factor. If we added up all the hours spent on shopping, food prep, cooking, eating and cleaning up compared to mixing a day's supply of chemicals, one result would be a bounty of extra time to expand our horizons and improve our lives.

I am convinced that in the next war against the U.S.A., one of the strongest weapons will be trade embargoes, eliminating sources of the cheap goods including food,and services to which we have become accustomed. That begs the question of whether Soylent's base components are domestic or imported. If readily available domestically, under that scenario it would rapidly become a valuable commodity.

However, I have said many times before that I believe the main premise of both Miracle Foods and Demonic Foods is economics, not health, and I doubt if Soylent is any different.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:03PM
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"The U.K. is only 3 missed meals away from total anarchy." Plato said, "society is just a few meals away from barbarism."

I don't doubt that for a second. Though I have yet to act much on lessons learned, Hurricane Sandy taught me it would be a good idea to be a bit better prepared for emergencies. I should be prepared to feed the family for a week or two, or even a month, without leaving the house. Beyond that though, who cares. If you have a year's worth of food you better have a year's worth of ammo to protect it. And what for? To survive another year? Each to his own, but when the apocalypse comes I don't feel the need to be the last man standing.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 12:10PM
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When we lived in SoCal I used to think about what to stock for a calamity. Food and water, cooking fuel, sleeping bags, firearms and ammunition, gasoline, we had all that.

I decided that useful additional supplies would be: insulin, baby formula, heart medication. All things that could be traded at exorbitant rates to people in dire need. SWMBO pronounced my plans despicable and forbade their execution. Well, it was just an idea.

I think Soylent would be a fun to experiment with for a few weeks or more. Clearly, it hasn't been tested over long period or in a wide range of people, But I doubt any nutritional deficiencies are likely to strike you down in such a limited time period. There's no rule that you can't eat food sometimes, I think one of the beta testers mentioned that he had been a "social drinker", now he is a "social eater" - eats food with friends.

Consuming just liquid seems boring, but I did once do a liquid diet for 17 days and found that after the first few days, my interest in food waned. I've also gone through periods of very boring food diets. For instance, my

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Would I live on the product for a week? Not if I had a choice.

As for a supply of food/meds to last a year if needed in an emergency, I am pretty close to it, along with the ammo to protect it. what I do lack it the way to cook it if NG or electricity is not there. I will have to work on this.

Why do I do it? I listened to my Oma tell me what it was like during WW1 and WW2 in Europe. The cost savings of bulk buying is secondary. I have no desire to hit a target meal cost as Grainlady does.

I haven't been in a grocery store in about 3 weeks other than the produce market. I go shopping in my basement.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Here is one of the simpler DIY recipes.

Masa harina (a kind of flour), whey powder (for protein), some sports mixture, soybean oil (for fat), and a few other things.

EDIT - as I read more, I'm realizing a DIY Soylent can be made from:
- carbohydrate (oat bran has a lot of potassium)
- protein (whey protein powder or rice protein powder)
- fat (olive oil)
- a little salt
- a fistful of multi-vitamins, mineral supplements, and vitamin D supplements, of the kind you can get at any vitamin shop

You don't need the expensive "Muscle Milk" or other sports "nutrition powder" stuff. That stuff turns out to be a very, very expensive way to get vitamins and minerals.

I'm not saying the above is a suitable non-food to live on indefinitely - I don't think there is any proof of that. I'm just concluding that:

(1) a simple mix of stuff, costing about $6/day, will get you close to Soylent's specifications (caveat that the Soylent formula has been modified from the last published version) and is similar to many of the DIY versions of Soylent.

(2) per various beta tests, Soylent is safe to live on for weeks at a time, at least, and appears at least as healthy over that short period as the testers' prior diets, which admittedly was often pretty junky stuff (takeout burritos, diet coke).

I think I will make some of this stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: People Chow

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 18:00

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

No contribution, but wanted to say that movie made a huge impression on me when I saw it as a child in the seventies. I thought about it ( no vcr's back then!) for many years.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:49PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I would like to be more prepared for a food shortage and I'm sure I could take some tips from grain lady. I'll have to look up some of your posts when I get a chance. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:35PM
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There are a number of emergency "survival food tablets" available on the market. They are so full of chemical forms of vitamins and inorganic minerals (they mistakenly call "nutrition") you'd HAVE to be starving to consume them.

Personally, I can't stomach anything with a large amount of fortified chemical form of vitamins and inorganic minerals in it (like TOTAL cereal - which makes me very ill), including vitamin/mineral supplements, which also make me very ill. Somehow my body knows the difference between real and fake nutrition.....

Me, I'm guarding my stash of chia seeds (which I purchase by the 5# bag and use in so many things). Chia seeds are also my #1 emergency food. The natives in the southwest could survive their long hunting sessions just eating small amounts of chia seeds and water. A great read on the subject is "The Magic of Chia" Revival of an Ancient Wonder Food - by James F. Scheer.

It takes more than calories to keep you alive and thrive. The body is fed at the cellular level with nutrition - healthy cells, healthy body. Fake nutrition doesn't feed anyone. Take vitamin C as an example. It's actually a complex, not just ascorbic acid - the synthesized/manufactured, high-potency version of the vitamin. When we take the "pure" (free from all associated components) form, the body reacts by scavenging the blood system for the missing parts (ascorbigen bioflavanoid complexes, Tyrosinase, P, K, and J factors, C6H8O6, etc.). Science hasn't begun to discover all the factors involved in the complex we call vitamin C, which only occur in nature.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:27PM
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I have a 10 lb bag of chia seeds, we found a place to buy it in bulk. Looking for uses for it - so far we put it in tea.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Like Peppi, I could live in my basement for months. As hunters we are armed and ammo'd, but like FOAS, I would never want to decide to stay alive while people around me were starving. Ugh.

That said, I could live "off the grid" if necessary. I even have horses to till the soil, save my own seeds for my garden, can hunt and fish and I'm a relatively efficient forager. Must be the Native American part of me.....

As for the potato famine, that's one of my soap box issues, biodiversity. If Monsanto and their ilk have their way, there will be only the foods they decide to provide us. Poultry is a good example. Most of the chicken consumed in America today is some version of the Cornish Cross. Turkey is invariably Broad Breasted White or Bronze. These are birds that are artificially bred to grow quickly and efficiently. They cannot reproduce on their own and left alone would be extinct in one generation, yet we rely on them for as a major food source. Some disease wipes them out and what is left? That's what happened during the potato famine, a single variety was grown and when that variety failed, people starved. I guess history taught us nothing.

Yes, I also saw the movie "Soylent Green". At a drive-in theater no less, back when those were still common. I remember driving away thinking "That was one stupid movie, I can't believe I wasted two hours to watch that."

I still refuse to drink the


This post was edited by annie1992 on Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 21:09

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Based on my ongoing issues with green smoothies, Soylent is just out of the question.

During the Hurricane Rita evacuation, our little town was at the nexus of three evacuation routes. We were also the southernmost locale with gas stations that still had fuel and stores that still had food. I will not go into all my experiences of those days, but I was so impressed with how appreciative the evacuees were. Our town was very generous and gracious. Nevertheless, I do not doubt for one second that chaos and fiendishness would ensue, given the perfect storm of calamity and scarcity. So, yes, I do believe in being prepared and having good coping skills, and I do not believe people should be denigrated or disparaged for thinking similarly.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Soylent is.....Manna from Heaven....or "Soylent is PEOPLE"

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:11PM
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I listened to my Oma tell me what it was like during WW1 and WW2 in Europe.

Thanks, Peppi, that inspired me to have a rare conversation about the war with my mom. She remembers food becoming an issue around the last year, and then for the first two years after the war. She recalled how each day they would put their bread ration on a scale and divide it up for the family. Waiting in long lines because there was supposedly something to be had, even without knowing what that something was. Getting the occassional care package from distant friends and relatives, and loving to get coffee because it was valuable for barter on the black market.

Interestingly though, listening to her talk, it seems in her memory the food shortage was a secondary concern. "We were hungry, but we weren't starving to death." What appears to have left more of an impression was the lack of heating fuel during the winters. Only enough coal to keep one room warm during the day, heating up bricks to take to bed, enjoying making the beds in the morning because she could warm herself with the residual body heat in the blankets...

There's so much I want to get from my mom before her time is up. It's not an easy topic for her though.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 4:54AM
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I'm not a food hoarder but I do try to have the basic staples on hand for a short-term emergency. To be honest, if it came down to global permanent disaster, I'd rather not still be around. We have guns and ammo but not the amount we would need in that kind of scenario. Even the best of humanity would be a threat when faced with a starving family, and I don't want to be in the position of having to take out a desperate family man in order to eat one more day. As for living through hard times, we were very poor and many days the only thing in the house might be self rising flour and bacon grease for poor-man's gravy and biscuits, it kept us alive but I sure hope I don't have to do it again.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 6:49AM
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"----- To be honest, if it came down to global permanent disaster, I'd rather not still be around. ----"

It is not really up to you. Your family may need/want you to be around.

Let me think of another situation which will start armageddon.

As you know, science has basically completely mapped out the very complex billions of human genetic code. We know which DNA/tRNA gives you green eyes, which makes you cancer prone and it will not be difficult for scientists to figure out which sequences cause aging, and fix/modify, economically, the process of human aging.

Good news? You tell me. Imagine population doubling every few years.


This post was edited by dcarch on Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 8:50

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:32AM
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Slightly OT: Soylent Green was Edward G Robinson's last movie. He was dying of cancer as it was being filmed, and no one on the set knew it except Charlton Heston. So in the euthanasia scene, where Robinson's character is being euthanized, Charlton Heston's chararacter tries to interrupt the sequence: Chuck's tears were real. Robinson died eleven days later.

Here is a link that might be useful: soylent green scene

This post was edited by arley on Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 10:09

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 9:33AM
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Rita, like you, I grew up poor. Dinner was quite often whatever someone could shoot. There was never a choice, you ate it or went hungry.

FOAS, my Grandmother lived through the depression, as did my Mother, who was born in 1935. My Grandfather died when Mother was 12, and Grandma went to work taking in laundry, cooking for other families, whatever she could do to feed her 3 children. She finally had to move in with relatives. It was not common for women to work and she had no education, she never even learned to drive a car. She didn't talk about being cold but I remember growing up in an old "renovated" schoolhouse that my Dad refurbished. My upstairs bedroom was so cold in the winter that I could scrape the frost from the inside of the window with my fingernail and we always laid out clothes out the night before so we could dash downstairs and dress by the woodstove. We had no indoor plumbing and a middle of the night trip to the outhouse was not something we looked forward to in Michigan in January.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so I'm just going to imagine turning my little farm into a commune where the family can all work, growing vegetables and hunting deer, pumping water with the old pitcher pump and heating with wood and making poor old King and Copenhagen pull the plow, LOL.

Of course, I couldn't give up valuable space to pasture cattle, so they'd have to go, and we'd take up raising rabbits instead, which is one of the most nutritious meats anyway.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:14PM
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