Some of you may recall me talking about an imaginary item I called NutriGruel. It'd be a nutritionally complete, though undoubtedly somewhat boring meal. In my scenario, this meal would not only replace currently existing government food programs, but would be made available to all citizens at no additional charge (beyond whatever taxes they're paying to fund the program).
My thought was that we’d be able to 1) end hunger in the nation and 2) end (or at least reduce) complaints about what people are spending their government dole on. The NutriGruel program would be a true safety net – not a choice most would willingly make, but something to save one when all financial hope seemed lost.
It’d also offer options. Want to truly live the life of an ascetic? Go on nutrigruel and donate what you would have spent on food for the poor. Or take time to work on that new business idea, art installation or manifesto, secure in the knowledge that, even if it fails, the nation won’t let you starve.
Well, somebody is going to try to commercialize what is essentially the foodstuff that I envisioned. They’re calling it Soylent (yes, as in Soylent Green but, no, it is not made of people). In fact, it is vegetarian. There’s a kickstarter for it (video below) that will run through… June 20th or 21st.
To be sure, there’ll be deficiencies in the early versions, and the cost will undoubtedly start high (with the kickstarter, $65 gets you a week’s supply). Also, I’m a little concerned about the talk of minimum waste. Are they really talking about a reduction in the need to defecate? What an odd selling point! But I’ve fascinated by the subject. In addition to my NutriGruel concept, it brings to mind Astronaut food. Yes, and also dystopian scenarios where people are treated like bio-machines and fed kibble as fuel. And more than a little bit of the Arcosanti / Biosphere2 brand of weirdness. But all-in-all, it’s a fascinating little experiment. I just have to decide if I want to pony up for a week of the food, or maybe just get a t-shirt.