Not People, Nor Green: Soylent Food Alternative Starts Shipping

From this week it is now possible to live without ever eating any food again as meal alternative ‘Soylent’, a nutritionally-rich drink, has started to ship.

After raising in excessive of $2m dollars in a crowdfunding campaign, its supporters will now be rewarded with the food replacement.

A three-serving bag of Soylent, which is made of a powder and special oil, contains more than 2,000 kcal and means that those who don’t want to eat food can substitute meals for the portions.

With more than 13,000 crowdfunding backers, Soylent contains all the components of a balanced diet but with the added bonus of only a third of the calories.

Another added advantage is that, not having gone through traditional manufacturing processes, it doesn’t contain any toxins or preservatives.

It’s also cheaper than full meals with a $65 order being able to replace a full week’s worth of meals, which equates to $3.10 a meal.

In a blog post on the company’s website, Soylent stated that starter kits have started shipping this week and the rate of shipping will be scaled up over the next two weeks. This is as well as product shipping starting from today.

The process has taken a year since the 30-day crowdfunding campaign was launched, causing some criticism in from backers in the past.

Shipping is currently limited to the US but in coming months will be spread to international destinations.

It’s founder Rob Rhinehart, previously a computer engineer, posted a famous blog post that described how he only ate what has gone on to become Soylent for a 30 day period.

In his original post he wrote on how the idea came about: “I hypothesized that the body doesn’t need food itself, merely the chemicals and elements it contains.

“So, I resolved to embark on an experiment. What if I consumed only the raw ingredients the body uses for energy?

“Would I be healthier or do we need all the other stuff that’s in traditional food? If it does work, what would it feel like to have a perfectly balanced diet? I just want to be in good health and spend as little time and money on food as possible.”

The original crowd funding campaign provided funds for the upfront manufacturing costs manufacturing costs.

The campaign designed Soylent as: “For many people, on many occasions, food is a hassle, especially when trying to eat well.

“Suppose we had a default meal that was the nutritional equivalent of water: cheap, healthy, convenient and ubiquitous.

“Soylent will be personalized for different body types and customizable based on individual goals. It allows one to enjoy the health benefits of a well balanced diet with less effort and cost.”

End to Employment? In the Future You’ll Be Working for Yourself

The future of work is freelance, according to research by marketing startup The Plato Group.

The global recession has already led to a rise in entrepreneurs and self-employment, but this trend is set to continue, with half of all Americans working for themselves by 2020.

Combined with the increasing use of robots in service and care roles, this trend could eventually spell the end to traditional, contracted 9-5 work as we know it. This, in turn, could have a significant impact on everything from housing to food.

As part of this, many of us may end up working fewer or more flexible hours in more relaxed, non-corporate environments.

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Technological and social changes have already resulted in changes to working hours, an increase in home-based work and a rise in the number of industries where freelance work is possible.

The Plato Group believes that there will be “a change in the way work is done, a change in the way companies and workers interact and a change in the government’s response to entrepreneurs.”

In particular, the organisation believes that people who are aware of these changes and adapt appropriately will be in the best position to capitalise on the shift to freelance work, and suggested that states offering tax incentives, such as Florida, would be likely to attract more freelancers and small businesses.

A significant growth in freelance work seems likely largely because of the number of tasks that can now be achieved remotely. In many industries, few jobs involve work that is tied to a specific location and employees could – at least in theory – do their work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

However, if freelancers became the majority of workers this could result in a complete change in where people live and work. Areas with appealing climates, scenery and activities could become increasingly popular, and we could see mass migration away from overcrowded urban areas by workers who no longer need to live in the city, which may even have an impact on property prices.

Some towns might even capitalise on this in a bit to boost tax revenue; we could see high-speed broadband and live/work spaces being installed in areas looking to attract more people.

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Fashion may also be affected. Many offices have already moved away from the traditional suit and tie, but with mass freelancing casual wear – and perhaps even loungewear – could see a surge in popularity.

The on-the-go food industry may see a drop as the demand for lunch break sandwiches dwindles, but the home delivery industry – which has exploded over the past few years – could see demand skyrocketing.

However, this shift could also have a very negative impact. Freelance work is often very insecure and can mean living hand-to-mouth with no regular salary to make mortgage payments, pay insurance premiums and similar.

While some would undoubtedly thrive in a freelance system, many may find themselves struggling for work.


Images courtesy of Toms Bauģis.