Food for thought? Pills! Three times a day, all your nutrients,
all your favorite flavors. Feel like having lobster for breakfast? Done. Trying to like mushrooms,
but you can’t stand the texture? Problem solved. Meal replacement pills are the future. At least, that’s what people have
been saying for the past century. This is ‘What If,’ and here’s what would happen
if you could get your meals in a pill. Meal pills began as a feminist ideal. Leading up to the
1893 Chicago World’s Fair, the American Press Association asked
writers to predict the world of 1993. So American suffragette,
Mary Elizabeth Lease, described a world of synthetic food,
freeing women from kitchen work, and other domestic chores. In the decades that followed, science fiction
novelists, playwrights, filmmakers, and others from different disciplines
all experimented with the idea of meal-replacement pills. The best we’ve
come up with so far, is Soylent. Soylent is a thick and creamy
concoction that contains all the fat, carbs, proteins, vitamins
and minerals you need in a day. So if we can drink our meals,
why can’t we pop ’em? It wouldn’t be hard to replace a portion
of your diet with nutrient pills. After all, you can pick up
every essential vitamin in pill form at your local
grocery store or pharmacy. In doing so, you might think you’re
pretty nutritious, and intelligent, but you wouldn’t look it. You’d grow irritable, depressed, tired,
and you’d eventually die of starvation. Because it’s not just nutrients
we need to survive. Calories are crucial. For breakfast, eat 2 eggs, a slice of bread,
2 tbsp of peanut butter, and a glass of juice. For lunch, how about a
turkey sandwich, carrots and dip, a chocolate chip cookie
and a glass of milk. And then for dinner, you could
grill up some salmon, add a baked potato, some steamed broccoli
and a cup of ice cream for dessert. And, if you need a snack during the day,
grab an apple and a granola bar You don’t. You can’t. Even if fat is the most
concentrated source of calories, you can’t fit enough of it into a single pill. But if you were set on subsisting
on a pill-only diet, then you’d have to eat
450 calorie pills a day, plus other vitamins to
get your needed nutrients. That’s sort’ve how
Soylent was invented. Living in San Francisco with
high rent, and a high grocery bill, Rob Rhinehart thought to
economize through chemistry. He found out what the
body needed to survive, ordered the raw ingredients
mostly in powdered form, tossed them in a blender, added water,
and mixed up a healthy, hearty cocktail. Rhinehart’s grocery bill went from
$470 per month down to $50. With a meal replacement pill, we could
imagine a much more efficient world, and one with greater food security. Since future meals would be easier
and cheaper to manufacture, and send around the world. The effects of climate change today
are beginning to limit what we can grow. Mangos and avocados, for example,
are among the fruits that are in decline; while farms around the world
are seeing fewer yields due to global warming
and increased drought. We might never get it in one pill,
but it’s possible, if not likely, that full meal replacements
are the way of the future. And if you’re afraid that your
favorite flavors would disappear if all your food came in a pill, don’t be! Researchers at the Institute of
Food Research in Norwich, England, recently found a way to put
multiple flavors into a single capsule, and have them released
one at a time, at different intervals. So what’s the future of food? Fast, frugal, and flavorful. Bon appetit!