First of all, for those of you who have better things to do with their time than follow the strange products that find their way through crowdfunding sites, Soylent is a product that was very successfully funded through Tilt. The title, of course, coming from the Charlton Heston film Soylent Green in which the entirety of the world is fed through one primary food source which shares it’s name with the title of the movie.
Secondly, Soylent came about during a bit of a boom of meal replacements that are popular among the tech heads out west. In fact, if you’re curious, Soylent’s website has a DIY section that will help you create, source, and share a recipe for your own meal replacement product. The idea is, why bother spending time making and eating a meal when you can have something that you quickly ingest that gives you all of the nutrients your body needs? Makes sense to me, however there are people who argue that human beings evolved to require nutrients from multiple sources, not from the same food every single meal. I’m not a nutritionist, so I won’t weigh in on that.
But now on to Rhinehart’s essay. Rhinehart is clearly a crazy person. I read his entire essay and have to say that I cannot recall someone who delved into the forcefully dark land of hyperbole so magnificently and regularly. He describes a trip to the grocery store like I would someone going through the processing center of a dystopian internment camp.
However, he brings up some really good points, and being crazy doesn’t rob him of the virtue of being right. The initial focus of the essay is on the wastefulness of alternating current and modern power grids in general. He’s right about all of that. He writes about the wastefulness of a modern American home- again he is correct. He goes on to explain how he has removed the most power hungry portions of his home and replaced his energy source with solar. Although some of these choices are not ones that I could find myself doing, he is offering solutions to legitimate problems. The problem with his essay is not it’s content, but it’s delivery.
In addition to all of that, the piece does have some self-defeating hypocrisy. The first part of it seems to be about conservation, but later Rhinehart explains that he has his clothes custom made in China, and then doesn’t launder them, but then donates them for someone else to wash. It’s not a perfect piece, but it is a entertaining read just for the sake of how crazy it gets, but it is also thought provoking. Give it a go.