Grow your own soylent, need some advice


#1

This may or may not be an appropriate place to post this, but I can’t think of anywhere better.

I want to start my own kickstarter to breed a plant that is nutritionally complete. Each time I have the nutritional contents tested it costs me ~$700. I think it will take me at least 10 tests before I have something worthwhile. I also need to buy heat lamps, seeds, plants, soil and fertilizer.

I just want some general creative advice, like
What should the title be?
What should the rewards be?

I’m really inspired to do this but the costs are tremendous, though not nearly as much so as producing Soylent.

I believe this is a better solution on the task of ending world hunger, and is more cost-effective. Soylent has gone after a different market and I’d like to offer a solution that fills some of their original intentions, I believe this is it.

Any help/criticism is appreciated.

In light of my 3 ingredient recipe, I’ve decided to use carrots as the base plant. The only problem with carrots is the low fat content and the high b-carotene content. I’ll start with white carrots to eliminate the b-carotene problem, then try to breed carrots with a high fat content. At this point they will be nutritionally complete, minus B12 and vitamin D.

From here I’ll either try to inoculate them with a bacteria that produces B12 or present my work to a company large enough to genetically modify the carrot to produce B12 itself.


#2

This is a fascinating idea! Have you considered applying for an NSF grant? This seems like an appropriate kind of thing for that.

Can you tell us more about your idea? What’s your starting plant(s)? How do you propose to breed it to be nutritionally complete? What’s your argument that this will work? I’m really interested!


#3

Thanks!
I’m excited that you’re excited. I was open to the possibility of being called a dumbass lol.

How do I go about getting a grant?


#4

I don’t like being a party pooper, but I think you’re vastly underestimating things if you think you can get a reasonably useful result after 10 tests.


#5

I am, I just feel really bad asking people for money lol, so I’m underestimating what’s needed.


#6

Good question, based on earlier Soylent recipes I believe breeding peanuts, tomatoes, and broccoli will create a plant that is nutritionally complete. I plan on starting from there. (I have no illusions that it will end there.)

I will likely graft them and breed them as one or the other avenue might have a more profound effect. (One or the other might also be impossible.)

It’s been done before, plants are breed often for specific purposes, a recent one being flaxseed breed for high concentrations of n-3 fatty acids or canola being breed from rapeseed plants to have a more pleasing taste.

I just don’t think anyone has ever gone down the avenue of creating a nutritionally complete food (Surprisingly).

Well, as far as the grant goes, then, I’m going to need to do more research and likely work with my college to write up a more detailed explanation of how I intend to actually do this.


#7

How do I go about getting a grant?

nsf.gov can answer that better than I can. Basically you write a grant application. That’s a scientific paper which presents what you want to do, the science behind it, and why you think it will work and is important. But see their documentation.

Good question, based on earlier Soylent recipes I believe breeding peanuts, tomatoes, and broccoli will create a plant that is nutritionally complete. I plan on starting from there.

This is a fascinating idea! I hope it works.


#8

Grafting is not my forte, but I’m not so sure you can just graft any plant with any other.

Neverheless, I’ll be interested in what you come up with :smile:

Note that somewhat nutritionally complete foods have been created; I’m thinking golden rice here. I’m not sure how well it’s going to work without gentech though!


#9

Isn’t this sort of impossible? You’re talking about heavy genetic manipulation which requires specialised staff and equipment for many years.


#10

I agree, I’m not sure this works quite how you imagine it to. That said, I’m wholly supportive of the concept.

Look at Spirulina as a potential starting point. It is inexpensive to obtain, very easy to grow, and has a fantastic nutritional profile.

Edit: just realised I didn’t even attempt to answer your questions. Branding is a complicated issue that I (an engineer) will not attempt to cover. Rewards though… I think all you can really do is the standards: branded accessories, and priority access to the first successful results of your work. Maybe a super high cost reward could be getting to choose the target flavour :smiley:


#11

Plant breeding has been done for millennia without any specialized staff or equipment. Although I am of course getting funding for the equipment.

I’m also not really talking about anything in the arena of genetic manipulation exactly, just plant breeding.


#12

Do as Rob and show us some results first.


#13

In essence, you can. You can’t however, breed any two plants, that’s why I’m exploring both options.

Here’s a good example:

And just to show how common these cultivars are in daily life:


#14

I’d suggest you check out http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/antonyevans/glowing-plants-natural-lighting-with-no-electricit. It is a kickstarter to develop a naturally glow-in-the-dark plant.

Edited to add that I would be hesitant to contribute to such a goal. I understand, and laud, your intention. However, from what you’ve described such a plant would still have limited distribution capabilities (e.g., it might grow in temperate California, but what about a cold Scandanavian country, or a hot, arid part of Africa) and probably lack genetic diversity (e.g., susceptible to something akin to the Great Famine.


#15

Bananas have no seeds and thus lack genetic diversity (They are all clones) and also only grow in temperate climates, yet they are ubiquitous. I don’t see your argument, though I appreciate it as well as the tip to view the other kickstarter.

I’m going to do some trial experiments before I start my kickstarter.


#16

One of the goals of Soylent is nutritionally complete food for the masses. If this is also one of your goals (you never said so explicitly, but it is a logical extension of being able to grow nutritionally complete food) then (a) users should want something that has enough diversity that a single threat (e.g., potato blight) won’t drastically reduce supply and (b) should be able to grow it themselves (i.e., in their own environment or a greenhouse). The latter is less relevant if you plan on commercially mass farming it, but if I were investing in a Kickstarter, I’d want one of the financially viable rewards ( < $ 100 ) to be one of the plants (or seeds) that I could grow myself.

edit: Apparently the discourse software doesn’t allow a “(” immediately followed by a “<” immediately followed by a “$”; it cut off everything after the “(”. Put a space in between “(” and “<” and another space between “<” and “$” and it’s happy.


#17

It should be commercially mass-farmed, yes. It should become common enough to find at your grocery store. I do offer the plant and the seeds as well as some equipment to grow it as one of the rewards. It hasn’t been posted yet, though.

As far as a() goes, as long as you start the stock from a large number of plants, their genetic diversity should be well preserved.

My goal is food for anyone in need, so yes I intend for this to be a cheap, mass-produced crop.

It looks like the rest of your post was cut off.

Ah, I can see from the source code you meant to post:
edit: Apparently the discourse software doesn’t allow a “(” immediately followed by a "

It’s actually not the Discourse software, it’s the way the browser interprets the HTML produced by Discourse. Although I guess Discourse is partially at fault there.


#18

On the flip side of the genetic diversity coin, how do you plan to you ensure “nutritionally complete” while maintaining genetic diversity?


#19

I got nothin’ to add, but good luck. Would like to see how it comes out…


#20

I guess the simple fact there is: you can’t.

Bananas are still a good example of this, they were breed to have no seeds, and because of this lack of genetic diversity, the original variety of bananas eaten by our grandparents died out from disease.

I will try to minimize any loss of diversity by starting with a large stock and frequently breeding with the ‘parent’ plants. (Peanuts, grapes, garlic, yams).

Another likely solution is that I will spend time working on methods of grafting plants that display traits of all parent plants. In this case, the genetic makeup is not actually changed, the plants literally grow into each other and there is no danger of loss of diversity.

Thank you for bringing up the concern of the hardiness of the plants, though, I’m making sure to order more disease-resistant varieties.

I’ve chosen Jet Star tomato seeds. These are generally considered one of the hardiest tomato varieties.

I changed to peanuts, grapes, garlic and yams after a review of the nutritional content.
The whole plant will have to be eaten to get complete nutrition (Not including the stem or roots)