Possible uses for Soylent other than generic world hunger issue


#1

I think having a thread for some of the possible uses for Soylent to solve issues might be, at very least, a fun exercise, and might even help Soylent expand beyond its little black and white world of either basic consumers like us, or the ambiguous and, as I’ve seen, somehow moderately controversial, world hunger issue.

Schools
Schools are always complaining and rearranging their menus. They want something ‘healthy’ but they have cost concerns, unfortunately solved by fast food companies paying for their food, and storage issues which make fresh meals almost impossible for anything more than a cookie or an apple. Soylent stores well, is a baseline for healthy, and will hopefully be cheap enough for schools to afford when it is produced in larger quantities. The poor kids would have the same chance at good nutrition, and therefor a good education, as the kids who can afford balanced meals from home. Extra bonus, for those schools that are geared towards ‘troubled’ students, they won’t have to worry about potentially deadly plastic sporks. I am not kidding there. There are some places with issues like that.

Science!
Scientific trails try to aim to reduce variables as much as possible. If you are doing a study on a new inhaler, you weed out the smokers and such. Food and nutrition studies have always been so hard though, because it is hard to precisely log, different types of food change things, and people just on the whole differently. Slap them all with a bottle of Soylent to sip throughout the day and thousands of variables are gone, allowing you to see exactly how whatever you are testing affects the appetites, weight, or whatever of whoever you are testing.

Prisons
Once again, you need uniformity, nutrition, cost, and a lack of utensils. Soylent would likely be leaps and bounds of most of the stuff they serve now. Since it would be non-allergenic, you wouldn’t have unfortunate incidents where inmates can get food that they react to without knowing and possibly dying like Michael Saffioti. It does raise an ethical issue similar to the current nutriloaf debate though.

Medical
This shouldn’t be surprising, as Soylent has been compared to medical liquid diets many times, but Soylent could serve some medical uses. It could make for a cheaper and healthier way for people with mouths sealed for some reason another to have their ‘food in a straw,’ rather than either buying medical food of making food purees. It likely has more uses, but I have to admit that my circle of medical knowledge is more or less from just watching House MD and I don’t want to come up with any crazy tv show scenarios.

Military
Courtesy of @andymcclure’s cousin. Military is often in need of compact and stable food for transport to other countries. While more likely in non-desert environments and with dictatorial militaries, it would be a uniform food that can be transported easily and consumed with a minimum of fuel used for cooking. As stated by a few posters below, this is really unethical considering the rigors of war and only a real jerk would do it, although he could if he wanted (and could buy it).

Natural Disaster or Other Emergencies
Can’t believe this didn’t make the first list, but might be the very first way Soylent is used on this list. In the event of natural disasters, communities are often left with little to no way to get food and need to call in outside resources. They often have no gas or electricity to cook, and they also cannot store produce, especially meats, for any length of time. As long as there is a safe (or workable) source of water available, then the concentrated form of Soylent can send the most nutrition possible per truckload until more resources are available. Admittedly, this is kinda cruel, since you don’t want to be sipping nutrient paste after losing everything you’ve known, but it is as an alternative to mass starvation.

Any other ideas for possible Soylent uses? Obviously many of these will need a future where Soylent is at least begrudgingly accepted, but they make good goals and ideas.


#2

My favourite potential use is the Science one you mention. I would like to see some actual nutrition research carried out. This wouldn’t necessarily be with our official Soylent. I imagine it as more of science DIY where various things can be tested. You’ve doubtless encountered the “vitamins are useless” articles that are out there these days. Well, it would be good to figure out how vitamins are actually used by the body and why (or even whether) supplements are not the same as food.

Eve


#3

I’m not sure you are considering the more social aspects of your ideas, so I wanted to make sure. It’s one thing to opt into Soylent, another to offer it, and another thing to offer it exclusively to the point of forcing it. I realize you are talking about “the future” but boy is food ever among the core of humanity. How does that stuff change?

Three cases: Google Glass, Nutraloaf, and Lobster. (There’s a connection, I swear!)

Google Glass hits the subject of whether we are socially ready for a piece of technology. (Yes, this is food, but perhaps it’s the same.)

Wired Article "I, Glasshole[…]"
Mike Krahulik (aka Gabe) from Penny Arcade’s experience with Google Glass.

I’m interested to see what will happen when Soylent hits the streets. Will there be many Soylent evangelists pushing the product? Will there be bad press and a clever derogatory name for Soylent consumers like how “glasshole” caught on? (Soylentos? Soylent People? I’ve got nothing) Who’s going to be the first person to be a smug asshole about Soylent as they sip it from their nutrient holding device?

Feeding prisoners a semi-homogenous meal like Nutraloaf apparently touches against the legal boundary of the “cruel and unusual punishment” part of the US constitution. (Note: whether they should have to eat it isn’t anything relevant to talk about here. This isn’t about treatment of prisoners!) Anyways, it doesn’t even matter that it looks and probably tastes more appetizing than “meatloaf” crap I’ve willingly cooked and eaten before. It’s that people are forced to eat it. Lobster used to be beyond poverty food and limiting it was written into employment contracts.

And I’d wager that Soylent looks less like “food” than Nutraloaf does, and has a troll name to boot. People are really touchy about food and Soylent pokes a stick at it. It’s going to be very fun to see what happens!

On a personal note, I really hope I like it and can order more indefinitely. I’ve been wanting a “food pill” since I was a little kid. Unfortunately there’s simple physics to contend with and I’ll have to settle with something more bulky, so Soylent it is.


#4

I can’t take credit; my cousin actually thought of this: military. A major weak point in any military operation is the supply line. Keeping the soldiers fed would be easier if their food was extremely compact and nutrient-dense.


#5

I did know that some of these would be kinda, okay really, farfetched. The prison one and the school one would obviously be set in a future where Soylent was common. If such a thing were to happen, it would probably be an option on the menu before ever being considered as the sole option.

With the school one, parents, fearing the nutritional content of the normal school food, would probably have to lock their child’s account to only Soylent, but that would be the parent’s choice.

The prisons might be unethical but still do it though. After all, prisons still do serve Nutraloaf, even if it is in legal battles. Sadly, they would likely force it (at least on some of the prison population) whether it is unethical, borderline illegal, or not.

Also, in these scenarios, it would probably be likely that some kind of flavoring would either be standard or optional. People like chocolate milk, so in all those cases a chocolate version would probably be offered so it isn’t just a nutrient shake.

At least the hospital one seems plausible soon and ethical. People with their jaws wired shut would probably choose Soylent with promises of healing faster and they were already going to have a liquid diet.


#6

Maybe in the event of a draft or in less hospitable countries, but it isn’t all that likely in a volunteer army. People can get dehumanized in situations like war very easily, and to put it simply, you don’t want a guy with a gun to forget he is human. Besides, if word got around about you ‘not getting food’ people wouldn’t volunteer.

Still, an idea to add to the list.


#7

For those saying military use, have you been in the military? I can’t imagine you’d be recommending Soylent if you were. :slight_smile: One of the toughest aspects is the missing of home, family, and things that remind you that civilization is waiting back there and hasn’t disappeared. The MRE ration is designed, I think, perfectly for soldiers - and it’s ingenious too. A chemical reaction heats your mac and cheese, pasta and meatballs, or chicken alfredo and it’s fricking delicious after a long, exhausting day. They even have little Tabasco bottles in them. Digging into your warm meal is incredibly encouraging in those circumstances - I think a cold oaty slurry would definitely push some people over the edge. :slight_smile:


#8

My roommate and I plan on taking Soylent exclusively on a two week backpacking trip we are planning for this summer. Just another possibility to think about.


#9

That is why I think military is completely impractical and immoral. Unfortunately, I doubt countries like North Korea care, and they are likely to use it for its advantages there. It is a possibility, but an unbelievably cruel one. Also, in the event of a huge shortage, when it is the choice between feeding troops soylent or nothing (firstly stop buying so many scrapped prototype jets and buy some dang food), soylent is an option for keeping by with full health.

On a quick side note- those little military packs are amazing. They have tiny tabasco bottles and their own fuel source, and they are a feat of engineering the comforts of home for travel, nutrition, and portability. Anyone who actually would take those away is a complete… well, probably something I’m not allowed to say on this forum.


#10

great ideas so far. Removing food as variable when medically testing is one amazing idea. Food could have effect on medicine, enough to throw some results off.


#11

Actually, I think that the medical idea is a great way to subtly seed soylent to the public via paid medical testing. People volunteer/are paid to receive certain prototype treatments, and part of the regimen is a supply of soylent for them to consume, coupled with some simple DIY flavor varieties and a link to the website. This would expose soylent to people who are 1) willing to try new things 2) are probably in a financial crunch and could therefore benefit from soylent’s low cost.


#12

+1

My friend is also doing a trip for a few weeks to a developing country and has major food allergies. I let her know about this option and she loves the fact that she won’t have to worry about, or pack food that can spoil or be difficult.


#13

I hope that in the future, or hopefully even this year, you could literally calculate your exact carbon footprint from soylent much easier. I’d love to see the full cycle, from ingredient being created/grown whatever, 'til it ends up in my soylent. I’d love to have a base nutrition source for my everyday intake and then once in a while enjoy ‘real’ food - but then I can be much more strict and careful about what I put in my mouth, because I will have time and money too. If everyone did this, there’d eventually be awesome impacts on the world as the demand for shitty food that leads to climate change, animal cruelty and tons, and tons of garbage.

That’s my utopian idea at least. =)


#14

Outside of the benefits that come from obtaining nutrition via liquids versus solids, it is the reduction in backpack weight as well as increasing the number of meals one can carry on a hike. A boon for increasing the amount of time one can spend in nature without becoming a permanent fixture.


#15

you still need to carry 2 to 3 litres of water per day (or carry some means of boiling stream water).
unless of course you are hiking somewhere that there is no Giardia or other nasties in the streams.


#16

If this thread is correct, a day’s worth of Soylent is about 1 pound (500 grams). So I can see it being feasible for wilderness treks if you were able to get your water on site. With items like Lifestraw or Katadyn filters that could be quite easy (the one below weighs only 1.3 pounds and filters a liter per minute).
http://www.amazon.com/Katadyn-8018273-Hiker-Pro-Microfilter/dp/B002CN82V2/


#17

I’m actually interested in Soylent as a product for the military. Yes we have MREs but they get boring and aren’t completely nutritional. They are also quite heavy and take up a lot of space. Why not give troops a bag of Soylent over an MRE (1 day of food vs 1 meal) plus flavor packet?

Actually think I saw a small mention of the Department of Defense contacting Rob to test the product. This was about a year ago though.


#18

MREs were only bearable because of the mini bottle of Tabasco. Plus, if you are unlucky you will get one with eggs, which is basically like eating boogers. But overall they are actually not that bad, certainly better than they were before I was in the military: I have heard the horror stories.

The Red Horse and other squadrons set up potable water as a priority in remote locations. It is a very basic necessity when you are setting up a base in an area without plumbing. That combined with a truck full of bags of Soylent could feed a whole air base for a while.

For people out on a mission who may need to live off the land for a few days or weeks at a time, well they need some sort of portable water purification anyway. Water is far too heavy to carry much of.

So I think that could work for military in remote locations.

As far as prisons go, I have known people who were in there and I hear the food is technically safe to eat per the bare minimum FDA guidelines, but it is not exactly fresh. Apparently U.S. prisons get a lot of “about to spoil, may as well sell it” type of food from other institutions. Soylent may or may not be able to beat it on price, but that is irrelevant. If nothing else, keeping a healthy prison population will save costs since inmates receive 100% health care at government expense. Note: this is not what it sounds like. They will deny all care unless cheap (e.g. here’s some aspirin), obvious (arm broken), or the person is going to die without help. But they still end up spending a bit on health care, costs that Soylent could help reduce.


#19

I find MRE’s enjoyable, especially the chicken with dumplings.


#20

Maybe they changed since 2006 when I got out. While not terrible, I found them to be fairly bland. But they serve the purpose of filling stomachs were there are no kitchens, so I am not saying they are a bad idea or anything, only that Soylent could be better.