John Durant is author of “The Paleo Manifesto”, a book that makes a case for an evolutionary-based approach to health.
Durant’s book touches on topics as varied as Biblical hygiene and how astronauts sleep in space, but to boil it down to its key thesis, he argues that we should be living (and eating) more similarly to our primitive human ancestors.
Durant was glad to share his thoughts on the food replacement product Soylent with us — in short, he’s unimpressed.
“Soylent’s success is a sad commentary on where we are as a society with respect to food,” he said. “It’s hubristic to think that humans can engineer something better than millions of years of evolution. Food is not just an engineering problem.”
Durant offers baby formula as a comparison: “Big industrial food conglomerates have been trying to mimic breast milk for 100 years and continue to fail at it. This is not to say that infant formula might not improve or that technology might come about where such a thing is actually possible, but it merits some caution about the latest synthesized miracle food.”
He readily acknowledges the commercial potential, saying, “Soylent doesn’t have to be as healthy as Whole Foods or as meaningful as a home-cooked meal. It only has to be better than the frozen quesadilla that it’s competing with on a daily basis.”
Durant’s words to those eager to adopt Soylent as their primary food source: “You’re free to do that, I’m not going to stop you. I see how it could be an improvement for lots of people, but many in the food movement are trying to change how we grow food and raise animals, moving us further away from understanding where our food comes from, not closer.”