Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

A Few Thoughts About Soylent

If you haven’t heard about Soylent (no, not the food rations derived from people made famous in that movie), the food substitute created by Rob Rhinehart, you can learn more about it here and here.

Done? Then let’s continue.

While I think that Soylent could be useful in an emergency, I don’t think I’d ever use it for my daily nutritional needs. You’ll understand why in a short while.

But Soylent, and the idea behind it, begs a question: is this really necessary?. In the comments for an article about Soylent, someone asked (sorry, I don’t have that link): are people these days so lacking in time and in basic skills that they can’t cook a decent meal for themselves? And a blog post at The Atlantic website stated that Rhinehart’s impetus for creating Soylent was that he found himself exhausted by his constant need to prepare and consume food the traditional way.

I’m no foodie. I’m not the best cook in the world. Not even close. My skills in the kitchen are mediocre. But I can, within 30 minutes, make lunches for a work week that are balanced, nutritious, and which taste good. And those meals don’t cost any more than $2.00 each (including the fruit I toss in).

Cooking for yourself isn’t difficult. It’s not exhausting. You don’t need a lot of utensils or expensive equipment. You don’t need skills that would make a Michelin-starred chef envious. You don’t need to spend two hours shopping and another two doing prep work.

Preparing a good meal involves simple ingredients — when I make a batch of lunches, for example, I often use vegetables, pasta or rice, some meat, and a few spices. Nothing special or taxing. Nothing overly expensive. But preparing meals involves a bit of imagination and an investment of a little time. Less than an hour a day.

There’s no shortcut. You do wind up with food that you can actually taste, which has texture. Something you can enjoy and take 15 or 20 or 30 minutes to eat. Something that doesn’t just fill you, but which fuels you in a way that you can savour.

Unless my health deteriorates dramatically in the next decade or two, I’m not going to give that up for a liquid concoction. No matter how convenient that concoction is.

If I can’t find time to cook, what does that say about my life? What does that say about me and my priorities? Even though I’m not a great cook, I enjoy preparing food. It puts me into another state of mind, and allows my mind to drift away from work and the stresses of my life. Even if only for a little while.

I get a small sense of satisfaction from preparing my own meals and meals for my family. From trying new things in the kitchen. From doing something that’s both simple and sustaining.

Soylent, and things like it, are too much of a life hack for my tastes. As you may or may not know, I’m not a fan of hacking my life. Maybe adopting something like Soylent could save me some time. But what am I losing to gain that time? More than that kind of hack is worth.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!