Popular Science: Could This Liquid Replace Food?

In the August issue of Popular Science, they ran an article entitled "Could This Liquid Replace Food?" by Caleb Hannan. The article described the attempts by Rob Rhinehart to concoct an inexpensive drink that could supply all his nutritional needs. His approach is based on the naive incorrect assumption that we know all the nutrients required for health and their proportions, and so all he need do is track them all down and add them to his drink. My response:

Whole plant foods have hundreds of nutrients that we know about and researchers estimate that there are thousands that we have yet to discover. And these known and unknown nutrients interact with one another in powerful ways. For example, the antioxidant property of vitamin C is enhanced by a factor of 263 by the other nutrients in apples over the antioxidant effect of just the vitamin C. (from the book Whole" by T. Colin Campbell et. al.)

The dream in the 1950s of a manufactured product that could replace food quickly faded as we found more biologically active compounds in plant foods. This expansion of our knowledge continues to accelerate, confirming that it will be a long time before something we manufacture can approximate the health benefit of whole plant foods. I compliment Popular Science in recognizing that these manufactured concoctions are not food. And science has shown that a whole food plant based diet is best for those wanting a long and disease-free life.

John Tanner, Ph.D.
Director, NuSci, The Nutrition Science Foundation
Monrovia, CA

P.S. If price and ease of cooking are paramount, I’d recommend potatoes. As long as they are not cooked in oil and are not accompanied by sour cream or other animal products, potatoes contain a healthy mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients and are inexpensive and easy to prepare.

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