Soylent is now available in retail stores across the US. Initially sold online through Soylent.com and Amazon.com, Silicon Valley’s favorite meal replacement is also now offered in stores like 7-Eleven and Walmart. With the addition of Kroger, the largest retailer in the US, the product is now being sold in 10,000 stores across the country. Clearly, as the demand increases, more leading retail stores are making room for the product.
Soylent in a Nutshell
Soylent is a crowdfunding darling as it made it to the list of highest funded crowdfunding projects back in 2013.
The initial goal was $100K but the campaign closed with a whopping $2,100,000. The success of the crowdfunding allowed the team to secure an additional $1.5 million private funding.
The product started as a 30-day self-experiment in nutrition by one of its founders, Rob Rhinehart. Five years since its inception, Soylent — now produced by Rosa Foods, is a full-blown commercial venture. Currently, Soylent’s product line includes the drink (Original, Cacao and Strawberry flavors), café (Chai, Mocha, and Vanilla flavors) and powder (Original and Cacao.)
The name came from the 1966 science fiction novel written by Harry Harrison. Make Room! Make is about a dystopian society. It is a name that aptly captures the futuristic attitude of the company towards food. The founders believed that nutrition should not be difficult. Nutrition should be within reach, simple and in convenient forms.
Are You For or Against Soylent Meal Replacement?
As a meal replacement, it is polarizing. One camp looks at Soylent with apparent repugnance. It is beige, gooey, and unappetizing. Adrian Chen of Gawker compared the taste with“homemade non-toxic Play-Doh.” New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo described it as purposefully bland. Manjoo further adds, “Everything about Soylent screams function.” This is where the rub lies because the food is more than just its nutritional content and dietary allowance. The culture around food– from procurement and preparation to consumption and appreciation of flavors– it is more than what goes inside our gut. It is easy to see the reason behind this negative reaction.
On one hand, there are those who see the promise in the idea. They are the customers who pre-ordered the product. They are the investors from Andreessen Horowitz and Lerer Ventures, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Harj Taggar and other investors who see potential in the concept.
It is also worth mentioning that it does not aim to replace regular food. Soylent’s goal is to fill in food voids. These food voids, according to Soylent, are instances when people are stuck eating something they’ll likely regret or when they don’t get to eat at all. Soylent is the easy, affordable, delicious solution to help you avoid food voids. It is an engineered nutrition that has the right mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals.
Looking Into the Future of Food
Soylent is not too different from other liquid food such as Ensure, Milk Fuel or Shakeology. Moreover, liquid food has been around for years. Doctors have been grounding regular food to administer to patients who are too ill to eat; NASA has been grounding and freeze-drying food for outer space; bodybuilders have been downing protein shake. Soylent shares perfunctory usefulness with the mentioned examples. However, Soylent approaches food with sustainability and security in mind. The team is constantly innovating in order to find ways to lessen food waste, shorten the time spent on growing food and optimize food production. With the Earth’s population growing exponentially and food resources diminishing fast, Soylent’s revolutionary measures in addressing food security is worth the second glance.
Human beings have been consuming food since time immemorial. We have developed behaviors around how food is consumed. What Soylent suggests contradicts how humans and societies have behaved around food. And while we still wrestle with the idea of consuming functional food, Soylent products are stacking up at nearby stores and retail outlets.