Gary Littman


Garry Littman is the owner and director of The Language House in Geneva which organises English language training for professional people, companies and students. He was a radio and newspaper journalist in his native Australia and ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in his younger days. He is an English language trainer and an aficionado of pétanque.

Life after food

Is eating overrated? Shopping, preparing, cooking, washing up and cleaning up take up a large chunk of our time and energy.

A San Francisco start-up, (a handful of young obsessed food hackers) called the Soylent Corporation has launched Soylent, a Matrix style food source under the cosmic mantra: Free your body.

Soylent is a food powder (just add water) designed for use as a staple meal for adults. Each serving provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort (I’m quoting from the website). And it’s relatively cheap.

These Soylent people have got a dark sense of humour, as well as a product that might well be a plate changer, if not a game changer. Perhaps you remember the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green (Soleil Vert)? Charlton Heston discovers that the little green wafers (gaufrettes)  known as soylent green that feed the masses are not made of high-energy plankton, but ummm… wait for it… dead people.

The 2014 Soylent contains no human traces. Instead its poses the rather indigestible question: What if you never had to worry about food again?

Mmm…? Think of the additional time, all that extra work I could do and the extra work you could do for me.  We would never have to disconnect if we have our jar of Soylent at arm’s length. 

Soylent might even save the next generation who seem to be about as interested in cooking as they are in doing the dishes. It might even help feed a hugry billion or two and reduce our murky footprint on the planet.

The Soylent website is impressive; as clean and minimalist as a beige nutritional powder shake being poured into a glass. We are told Soylent is an alternative to traditional food (which I think is a reference to old-fashioned people who still use forks).

It gives people a convenient affordable and healthy way to fuel their bodies. It is the most simplistic thing you can live on and stay healthy and is designed to keep the body in a balanced state of ideal nutrition. Soylent gives you the freedom to live life the way you want to live…

The powder, unlike your organic strawberry yoghurt, has a two year use-by-date and can be posted to your home (if you live in the US). Total preparation time for three meals: 3 minutes. Cost per meal: CHF 2.70.

Soylent has caused quite a buzz since it started as a crowd-funded campaign on Crowdtilt, where it raised more than one million dollars in pre-orders. Creator Rob Rhinehart (his blog is called How I Stopped Eating Food) posted the formula online, which has generated a fan base of DIY (do-it-yourself) Soylent devotees; bio-hackers, techno foodies, orthorexians, the curious and a pinch of venture capitalists.  There are now thousands of Soylant recipes and a multitude of blogs which describe in detail; ingredients, mixes, taste, energy levels, social exclusion (not wanting to go to dinner with friends), aching jaws (from not chewing) and bowel movements. One common complaint is severe flatulence as the digestive system adapts.

The overall feedback seems relatively positive, at least among the geek class, but not quite as tantalising as the taste of fried chicken after 30 days of liquid food, according to blogger and filmmaker Brian Merchant:

My first meal back was, as I’d been lusting over, some deliciously nasty fried chicken. Everyone told me not to go so heavy right off the bat—try yogurt first, they said, ease back into it—but no way. I wanted the richest, Soylent-crushingest food possible. So I bit in.

I was euphoric. I felt the endorphins rushing through my body, the gob of chicken skin wandering down my esophagus, the juices staining my chin. Before long, I might as well have been stoned. For a half an hour, I sat there, overwhelmed, unaware of any foodless world outside my brain.

For a few minutes, the future didn’t matter; the taste and the swirling talk took over. The food anchored me to the glorious present, and eating was all.







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