By Andrea Platt Dwyer, Executive Director
One of our board members recently shared an article with me about a new food substitute under development intended to supply all of a human body’s daily nutritional needs, made from powdered starch, rice protein, olive oil and raw chemical powders. The benefits of this product called “Soylent,” as explained on the website, are improved health, freedom from time and money spent shopping, cooking and cleaning, and a vastly reduced environmental impact by eliminating much of the waste and harm coming from agriculture, livestock and food-related trash.
It’s an intriguing idea, evocative of more than a few sci-fi stories, and one that has a lot of followers. I can’t say that I am one of them. To me, food is about more than just physical nourishment, though clearly that is essential. Through food, we gain an understanding and appreciation of one another, we share our own heritage and we learn about different cultures. Sharing food is often a social event, whether that be at the family dinner table or at an event like our community dinners. By cooking and eating together, we strengthen bonds within families, neighborhoods and communities.
The act of growing food is a powerful way to connect with nature, whether on a farm, in a garden, or in containers on your balcony. To be successful at growing food sustainably, it’s necessary to know how to build and maintain healthy soil, how to ensure clean, abundant watersheds, and how to care for plants and trees using techniques that are not hostile to the environment.
I can’t predict whether or not products like Soylent will catch on in a big way, but if they do, I believe we would lose something terrifically important, something that defines us as humans and connects us to one another and to the world we live in.
What do you think is important for the future of our food?
Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, October-November 2013.