Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Abolish Food !

 Abolish Food!

Soylent, a powdered meal replacement developed by Robert Rhinehart, an electrical engineer turned amateur biochemist, containing thirty-five essential nutrients in one tiny pouch. Mix it with water and an oil blend. Its early consumers are those who find drinking meals at their desk a fine way to maximize their productivity.

 Under capitalism, we spend most of our waking hours under the direction of our bosses. We’re under pressure to produce ever more efficiently — not for more pay, but simply to keep our jobs. With stable 9-to-5 employment increasingly scarce, companies are not only making the workday longer, they’re making sure workers achieve peak productivity throughout it. Pervasive surveillance of employees, the division of work into mundane and tedious component tasks, and the relentless pace of production have always been associated with labor under capitalism. But in the union-less cubicle of the future, workers have even less of a chance to push back against these trends.

For those of us still lucky enough to have it, a lunch break is one of the last reprieves from the tyranny of the workplace. Socializing with others and having time away from the treadmill has tremendous value. Our biological need for food to perform effectively as workers is one of the few things employers have to respect. A labor force sipping Soylent all day at their desks would satisfy that need without disruptive pauses for food preparation, consumption and clean-up. Lunch breaks could come to be seen as a luxury and a relic from a bygone era of 40-hour work-weeks, paid vacation sick days, and health-plans.

Widespread use of Soylent will keep us all glued to our desks from dawn to dusk until we die.  (they’ve already solved the problem of toilet breaks), but that’s just part of capitalism’s tendency to use technological advances to maximize profit at the employee’s expense.

Nevertheless, we have more than 7 billion people to feed; 842 million of them don’t have enough to eat. Even among many of those who do, the food they consume often lacks essential nutrients. Malnutrition kills 3.1 million children every year and leaves millions more underdeveloped. Climate change will only make matters worse, with experts warning of a coming era of food insecurity. Food today is environmentally inefficient than it needs to be. Agricultural production saps 70 percent of our fresh water. Livestock generates around 20 percent of greenhouse gases from human sources. Combined, both sides of the food production system dominate 40 percent of the world’s land surface.

 “You need amino acids and lipids, not milk itself,” Rhinehart told The New Yorker. “You need carbohydrates, not bread.”

This would not only free up land and resources to comfortably sustain more human life, but it could provide a way out of backbreaking farm work for the first time since the Neolithic revolution.  The poor today have processed meals foisted upon them by corporate producers, while the rich can enjoy eating their food slow and organic. Obesity and diabetes affect the low-income more than anyone else in the developed world. In a world of powdered food, all people could have access to the same subsistence.

Conventional food will be transformed into something we consume for leisure and pleasure, for socialization and entertainment. We need not rely on it to survive.

 A world without food would also be a world without cooking — part of unpaid household work that’s disproportionately left to women. Overcoming it is, in addition to everything else, a victory against the sexual division of labor.

Soylent’s ingredients aren’t proprietary and can be easily wrested from corporate supply chains and put into the public sphere - the virtue of being open source.  Food in a new era of freedom: freedom from the gendered tyranny of the kitchen, dangerous conditions in fields and slaughterhouses, the plight of starvation and malnutrition and senseless conflict over resources that need not be scarce. We could be living on a planet with that kind of freedom before long. Abolish food so that everyone can eat.

Taken from here

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