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soylent green dayIt is amazing to me that we just can’t leave our Puritan heritage behind.

For most of the 20th Century, food was about convenience or nutrition; flavor seldom got a mention. Today, the techies are trying to undermine whatever progress we’ve made in learning to appreciate food.

Soylent, the nutritional sludge/food replacement powder created by LA-based software engineer Rob Rhinehart in 2013, has raised an additional and unprecedented $20 million in funding. Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is behind the bulk of the cash. In a blog post Soylent writes of the raise, “This is a huge leap forward for our company and we are humbled the the trust our investors and all of you have put in Soylent as we continue to grow.”

Soylent is a curious product. Created initially because Rhinehart wanted a “simpler, more efficient food source that could provide maximum nutrition for minimal effort,” it’s now been billed as the future of food. Its relatively low cost does not yet offset its unpalatable taste, however. The company has said it is looking into flavoring its powders.

When I think about what I’m craving today, flavored powder immediately comes to mind. Why is anyone giving this guy money?

But, not to be outdone, this “experience designer and researcher” wants us to eat without eating:

Project Nourished is an attempt to trick people into thinking they’re eating food they like when in fact they are eating multicolored translucent slabs of gelatinous…stuff. Essentially, it’s a fully interactive trickery experience: you wear a virtual reality headset, like (but not necessarily specifically) the Oculus Rift, you hear the sounds of crunching into, I don’t know, a pie (does a pie crunch?), you smell the pie, and you eat what looks like a pie-shaped Jello mold that theoretically tastes like pie, without the calories.

Can I get my steak-flavored pectin with Bordelaise-flavored water?

Virtual eating, the ultimate triumph of the simulacra. Fear of pleasure becomes fear of reality itself. I thought post-modernism was over.

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