Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

I’ve gotten lots of questions about a new product called Soylent. It’s a powder that you mix with water and oil and consume in place of food. The name is sort of an inside joke referring to a 1973 science fiction film called Soylent Green. (You can google that if you’re not in on the joke.)

In any case, the Soylent you can buy today is the brain-child of a software engineer named Robert Rhinehart, who set out to create something that could completely replace food as a source of nutrition. Apparently, he got tired of the amount of time and money he was spending to planshopcook, eat, and clean up after meals and wanted a simpler way to meet his nutritional needs.

He started by learning everything he could about which nutrients humans need to function and flourish. He then started mixing up raw ingredients into what he thought might be the optimal proportions. Like any self-respecting body-hacker, Rhinehart tested his invention on himself and a few other willing volunteers, going for extended periods of time without consuming anything but Soylent. Based on his own experience and feedback from others, Rhinehart tweaked the formula and ingredients until he felt that he had a winning formula.

Rosa Labs, a company founded by Rhinehart, is now selling Soylent to the public. There is also a robust DIY community experimenting with and sharing recipes for homemade versions.  So, are these guys on to something or is Soylent a bad idea?

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