I'm not surprised that products created by people who don't know what they're doing, in a kitchen, using god knows what ingredients, mixed in unsuitable ways, to be cheaper.
So that much at least is being done by professionals.
Have they actually shipped any product from the factory yet? Where has all the product they've shipped so far been made?
The problem comes when they use misleading dubious claims on the fundraising page. They had no need to use those claims; as you point out in another post the initial blog-post created a lot of buzz.
The reason I dislike Soylent so much is that it is a scam, advertised using dubious (and possibly illegal) claims.
Plenty of people were interested in it as an experiment - see the interest after his initial blog post. I thought it was a stupid idea then, but at least they weren't claiming it to be anything it wasn't.
They could have released it as an experimental product and been fine.
But they didn't. They chose to make a bunch of claims that have no basis in fact.
Plenty of people on HN dislike scams. Soylent is marketed in a dishonest, scammy, way.
First, the minor dishonesties:
> Suppose we had a default meal that was the nutritional equivalent of water: cheap, healthy, convenient and ubiquitous.
Soylent tries to say it's something new; that this product doesn't exist. That's just not true.
> Soylent will be personalized for different body types and customizable based on individual goals.
This is the most interesting part of the Soylent claim. If they could make access to testing easier and cheaper they'd have a useful product.
> For anyone who struggles with allergies, heartburn, acid reflux or digestion, has trouble controlling weight or cholesterol, or simply doesn't have the means to eat well, soylent is for you.
They had to change the main source of protein because many people are lactose intolerant. Despite the disclaimer later on in the page this paragraph is making clear medical claims. They have no evidence to support those claims. They also have no need to make those claims! People would have bought Soylent if those claims were not there.
> Soylent [...] puts you in excellent health,
Another dubious unsubstantiated medical claim.
> and vastly reduces your environmental impact by eliminating much of the waste and harm coming from agriculture, livestock, and food-related trash.*
This is an important point. But, like most of the Soylent stuff, they make the claim but have no evidence to support it. I can't find any kind of ecological assessment on any of the various Soylent blogs and websites.
> 50% of the food produced globally is wasted, and food makes for the largest component of municipal garbage. If not for this waste there would be plenty of food to adequately nourish everyone alive.
Food waste is not the reason for global malnutrition.
> 1 in 7 people globally are malnourished, and 1 in 3 in the developing world suffer from deficiency. Countless others are living hand-to-mouth, subsistence farming, hindering economic development. Even in the developed world, agriculture is the most dangerous industry to work in by occupational injuries and illnesses, and obesity is on the rise.
This is laughably ignorant. i) Soylent is very expensive when compared to the existing FRPs and FSPs used by WFP and UNICEF. (20% of the world lives on less than $1.25 per day) ii) Soylent needs clean water. About one billion people don't have access to clean water. Soylent make no mention of this, even though water is a crucial ingredient of the product. iii) Soylent appears to do nothing to increase local independence and resilience. How does Soylent help local farmers?
> By taking years to spoil,
I really need to see how they've tested that. I can't see how it's true. Especially in the context of food aid, where ideal storage conditions may not be available. Perhaps they mean "sealed packs last six months in less-than-ideal conditions" - that's a fine claim to make (if true), they don't need the untested exaggeration.
> dramatically reducing cost, and easing transportation and storage, soylent could have a dramatic effect on hunger and malnutrition.
Soylent is considerably more expensive than the products being used by WFP and UNICEF. I guess transportation and storage are similar.
> Proceeds from the purchase of soylent enable us to work with aid partners and reduce hunger and environmental impact both in the United States and the developing world.
This is great. I wish more companies would do it. Soylent don't mention who they're going to be working with. I'd have thought that with the $800,000 they've raised they would have made a few initial donations. Perhaps they're researching who to give some money to? WaterAid would be one choice. WFP would be another.
> Imagine everyone having a customized,
So far, two options. i) Male. ii) Female. It's a great idea - what do they mean by it? Do they know what they mean?
Then there are a bunch of user testimonials and quotes from the press.
They actually do a reasonable job of the risks and challenges section, better than many other crowd-funders do. They don't mention the risk of people becoming ill after using Soylent.
> there is much evidence that is considerably healthier than a typical diet.
They don't define a typical diet. There is not any evidence that Soylent is considerably healthier than any diet, because there's no evidence for Soylent at all yet.
Have a look at the WFP information here (https://www.wfp.org/nutrition/special-nutritional-products) and here (http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/co...)
And the manufacturer page for some of these products here (http://www.dsm.com/corporate/home.html)
This report from IRIN shows the extreme need to lower costs with these foods - they're aiming at $4 per kg. (http://www.irinnews.org/report/83124/malawi-cheaper-recipe-f...)
"You tell everybody. Listen to me. Hatcher. You've gotta tell 'em! SOYLENT IS MARKETING SPIN! We gotta stop them! Somehow! Listen! Listen to me… PLEASE!!!"
I'm not judging and I wish the creators well - there's just not a lot of real new thinking in Soylent - most of its promise is just pure marketing, like most products I suppose ;-)
It's certainly a good thing to put on their resume.
It seems that these goals are completely different from the one of Soylent, which is to provide a food replacement altogether (meaning people will expect it to taste good, make them feel replenished and won't use it as part of a treatment).
The manufacturers don't heavily promote that aspect because they are cautious and careful.
There is plenty of variety in the meal replacement product marketplace.
Here are the brands made by one company (http://abbottnutrition.com/brands/abbott-brands) - they cover just about anything you'd need.
Commercial providers have been making and supplying these foods for many years, and they've been used in a variety of settings for a long time.
How are these worse than Soylent, a product created by people who don't know what they're doing in their kitchens and advertised with a variety of probably illegal claims used with no medical supervision?
This is wrong. I'm not sure what products you're talking about. But there are products that are designed to be used as a sole source of nutrition.
> Recommending something that we absolutely know for certain is not complete because you have an irrational hate-boner for soylent is absurd.
> Your claims about soylent are false by the way, which really doesn't help your case at all.
Feel free to rebut anything I've said with links.
Soylent have no dieticians on staff, or anyone with any nutrition qualifications. So far all product has been produced in their kitchen. Several mistakes in formulation have been made. Errors in mixing (not taking fineness of powers into account, for example) have been shown.
The ones referenced in the post I replied to.
>Soylent have no dieticians on staff
Yes they do.
>So far all product has been produced in their kitchen
No, it hasn't.
>Several mistakes in formulation have been made
And you seem to be under the misconception that it is still some guy tossing stuff together in his kitchen. That is not the case.
The FBFs are complete foods. The others are supplements designed to help in cases of extreme malnutrition, or in cases of mild malnutrition.
>> Soylent have no dieticians on staff
> Yes they do.
Rob Rhinehart - CEO
Matt Cauble - COO
John Coogan - CTO
David Renteln - VP Business Development/Sales
Julio Miles - VP Customer Success
You'd have thought they'd list the dieticians.
I get no results when I search the Soylent blog. (http://blog.soylent.me/search/dietitian)(http://blog.soylent...
Please, help me out. Who are the dietitians on the Soylent staff?
When you're selling a food replacement the dietitian isn't a minor role. It's a key role in the company. Combine that with the criticism that Soylent has received from registered dietitians and it's important to list some dietitian, if only to counter the negative results when I type [soylent dietitian] into a search engine.
Reading the article you point me to I see ...
> Once we got some professional dietitians and food scientists to collaborate with us it got much tastier and more filling
... which is a little bit different from your claim that dietitians are on staff. Maybe that's for the future, with Soylent v2 or v3, when they move to more individualisation?
EDIT: Note that this is a blatant lie:
> A lot of things will give you calories, but nothing so far has been designed to be something you can live off. There are no food replacements on the market.
There are plenty of food replacement products, products that are designed for people to live off, in the market. It's not easy to get hold of them because other sellers have some sense of responsibility to their customers.
Spoiler: he doesn't think highly of either Soylent or its creator.
When I told him months ago that his product was incredibly stupid and he didn't have enough stuff in there to be a healthy alternative to eating, he pretty much ignored me.
A couple of weeks later, he found out the underlying cause of his arrhythmia was iron deficiency (in addition to hypermagnesia and hyperkalemia), he decided to put iron in it. This was of course after I had already told him to do it, and he ignored my advice.
I also told him his weight loss was likely a large degree of lean mass when he was only taking 50g/day of protein because that's what the RDA was. He essentially ignored me, continued to shed lean mass while exercising and not getting enough calories. But a little while later he added more protein in.
The lack of boron was also something I told him about, and then he added it (fairly quickly, actually).
I also mentioned lack of semi-essential/conditionally essential nutrients (GLA). The formulation still doesn't have Carnitine or Taurine in it. Because "they're not essential", even though a decent amount of the population lacks the ability to synthesize carnitine.
What kind of folate is he using? Because about 5-10% of the population doesn't have the gene to convert the commonly used (and cheaper) form of synthetic folate to it's physiologically active form tetrahydrofolate.
I said he needed fiber, he added a tiny bit of fiber and believes "the body doesn't really need that much fiber and it might be bad for your gut" (lolno).
Edit: ...there are companies that have been doing for a lot longer than he has, with smarter people, more resources, and are better in every way. They still haven't quite figured it out yet, but this guy has been living off his formula and accidentally almost killing himself at nearly every turn.
This is an argument for relying on existing products, which have development budgets in the tens of millions, decades of research and experience and dozens of dietitians and scientists working on perfecting them.
Or am I missing something.
IMO, There may be a lot of ready to eat foods out there from soup to frozen food etc, but if you actually consider how much salt and preservatives are in most of them there really not healthy. Existing meal replacement shakes etc are heather, but tend to be focused on dieters vs direct meal replacement. So, IMO there is plenty of room for Soylent, but I fear there going to get the taste or nutrition wrong as it's a vary hard problem.
Cooking is pretty simple, FWIW. With a slow cooker and a rice cooker you can pretty much eat as much as you want with 10 minutes of actual prep a day.
Depends on what you like. When I was a student I spent a lot less than that, now I send a lot more. $260 is a reasonably nice dinner for two at a restaurant here in Sweden.
No supplement, whatever its nutritional value, is going to be able to fill that need.
I am curious to try Soylent or something like it just for that 'Oh, this is unusual! What a pleasure!' kind of effect when eating regular food.
You might also be interested in reading about "Mindfulness-Based Eating". It seems a bit woo-y to me but psych friends of my acquaintance say it shows promise.
Even with all of that variety the closest I seem to come to mindfulness while eating is when I pay a lot or go out to eat with foodie friends (but I repeat myself).
It comes from a very utilitarian approach to food that I've (perhaps foolishly) taken my whole life. Eat fast and get on with important work. That's probably another reason a Soylent type product appeals to me.
I am curious about the book but trying to maintain mindfulness while eating every meal, frankly, seems like an extravagance. Of course, that is just a guess on the advice it contains based on the title.
I understand the utilitarian approach. I've done it myself.
My current diet is goal-directed.
But that doesn't mean I think I'm smarter or better than dietitians who read more than the abstracts on pubmed. I haven't entirely replaced food. I just have a dozen or so meals that I can make quickly, scale up or down, which have known macronutrient breakdowns and which I can rotate according to my daily whims and tastes.
Nobody will remember or care about how you sacrificed your well-being/health to put in extra effort at work. Except your body and it will remind you of this as you grow older.
of course, there's no record of the edit, & my name is still attached to the article. nice to see Paul Graham's as ethical & self-aware as ever.