By: Simon Anderson
Have you ever felt tired of eating? Not just that last bit of lasagna you’re trying to finish, but eating in general? Meals are expensive, time-consuming… even dangerous if you consider all of the diet-related illnesses today. Over the last few months, I’ve really become tired of eating. Unfortunately, we need to eat to survive. Changing our diets is one of the most difficult and necessary improvements for many of us in America today.
We don’t often think of how much eating regular meals costs us, because our current alternative – not eating, has dire consequences. But consider for a moment how incredibly costly having to eat is to us in so many different ways:
• Expense – Food is expensive; food that’s actually good for us is really expensive, and unfortunately out of reach for millions of Americans. This expense can be lessened by cooking at home – the cost benefits of cooking dinner for a family of five versus everyone going out to dinner each night are clear – but for couples or people living alone, not so much simply because they lack the economies of scale needed to reduce per-person costs.
• Starvation – Billions of people have starved to death in the history of humankind. Today, thanks to advances in technology, we don’t have a food production problem anymore – globally we produce twice about as much food as we consume – we have a distribution problem. Healthy food is hard to transport without making it expensive and many areas of the world are not conducive to growing everything that’s needed to feed the local population.
• Time – Food takes a tremendous amount of time to purchase, prepare, eat, and cleanup after. Even if you go out for a meal, you still need to consider the travel time and the time waiting for service and the check. Calculating the lost productivity in just one day due to lunch breaks in the U.S. would be staggering, especially when you factor in the effects of the common “2:30 feeling” caused by the post-lunch crash that companies such as Five-Hour Energy have been cashing in on.
• Health – We make bad eating choices, often because of the expense and time needed to make good eating choices. We are what we eat – literally – and evidence is all around us that these repetitive bad choices prove for many to actually have been thousands of life or death decisions.
• Environment – Food production is a beast on the environment. The pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, and often grossly inefficient land use are taking a brutal toll on the environment. There is only so much rain forest that can be razed to graze cattle and even without land use problems, most meat production is the awful on the environment. Beef takes 100 times more water per calorie to produce than grain. 2500 gallons of water is needed just to produce one pound of beef and the growing number of cattle necessary to feed the global appetite for beef is having a devastating effect on ecosystems around the world. Everything about raising cattle is taxing on the environment – from methane-laden cow farts to deforestation, beef consumption is a bad way to feed the planet. Killing billions of animals each year certainly has other downsides as well.
This is all old news, and I had resolved to wait for the pill-based meals from science fiction to eventually be available until I read about “Soylent.” A guy in California had created a way to provide all of your needed nourishment in a “shake” and had been living almost exclusively on his concoction for the last three months to prove its viability. This makes sense when you think about it. Most of what we eat, even really healthy stuff like kale, is just a vehicle for the small amount of vitamins, minerals, and other components that our bodies actually use and don’t just send “downstream.” Consider how much you eat versus how much you expel and you quickly realize that eating is not exactly efficient – we just didn’t have another option. Until now. Read More →