So, here’s the thing: I love food. Like, love love it. And I don’t mind cooking in the evening, but I hate having to do all the prep-work around it. Plus I’m, like, the Queen of Boredom Eating (and Drinking), which… yeah. Not great.

So, I confess, I really love the idea of Soylent. You know, that meal replacement startup thing? The one that’s supposed to taste like pancake batter which, bonus points, because I really like eating raw pancake batter. Problem: you can’t get it in Australia. Yeah, I know there are knock-off versions, DIY recipes, and even the pre-Soylent Soylent equivalents1 but… Well. Y’know. Marketing. What can I say?

Anyway. So no Soylent.

But here’s the thing about me and Soylent, and about how I’m suckered into its hype because I’m exactly the sort of affluent tech sector hipster it’s aiming at. And that’s all very well and good until the idea of “leisure food” catches on.

After all, if an easily accessible, nutritionally balanced, cheaply priced meal replacement was available, what’s to stop the idea of food-as-luxury gaining actual cultural currency?2 In the sense of, “Hey, poor people. Stop wasting all your money on ‘luxury’ food and just drink your non-brand meal replacement substance.”3

I’m worried about some enterprising American fascist catching wind of this product, and using it as another talking point in their crusade against poor people. This might sound a bit extreme, but really, it would be the logical extension of a popular political trend. Wisconsin Republicans, for example, have already tried to limit poor families’ ability to buy outrageous luxuries such as seasonings, ketchup, and dried beans.

So, it’s not hard to imagine some right-wing talk radio host convincing a good portion of America that a poor single mother does not deserve to consume anything except sludge until she is properly extracting wealth from other people like a good American (at which point we will find someone else that deserves to eat sludge, as that is the way of capitalism).

So… yeah. Social consequences. How ’bout that.

  1. Hospitals and hospices have been doing this “liquid meal replacement” shit a lot longer than Valley hipsters, shock horror. []
  2. Or regaining, as the “low-tech” version of this has been around for as long as there’s been, a) food, and b) social inequality. []
  3. Also see: the War on Fat People. To all of you who are poor and fat… good fucking luck. []