Powder-mix food has all the needed nutrients, but where's the fun?

Compleat is a powder containing a blend of key nutrients: Just add water for a drinkable dinner, says nu3, the company which developed the new, space-age substitute for solid food.

"It has the same number of calories as a normal meal," says nutrition expert Maja Siegert, who helped to develop Compleat. One portion contains 546 calories, and because it tastes relatively neutral, you’re less likely to overdo it with second helpings.

Siegert says it is especially convenient for people on the go, like young parents, outdoor athletes and people with stressful jobs.

Compleat is not the first attempt to create a futuristic food substitute.

Eva Barloesisus, a sociologist and nutritionist at Hanover University in Germany, goes as far as to describe the quest for "the dish, the powder, the pill to replace all food" as "an old, constantly recurring theme."

US software engineer Rob Rhinehart hit the headlines in 2014 with his product called Soylent.

Rhinehart told Vice Media’s Motherboard channel he believes we need to find alternatives to ensure an adequate world food supply.

"I don’t think we’re going to feed an exploding population with organic farms. We’re going to need to look to the future. We’re going to need to improve things and optimize things and a lot of that comes from science and technology."

Feeding by example, Rhinehart took to eating just two traditional meals per week.

The German makers of Compleat take a more relaxed approach, although co-developer Siegert concedes the idea behind it is similar to Soylent.

"We’re not saying to only eat Compleat," she stresses. But she adds that theoretically, you could replace your meals with it.

But would we actually want to? Some edibles experts are sceptical.

Guido Ritter, a food researcher at Muenster University of Applied Sciences, points out that culture and enjoyment are important aspects of the eating experience - things that a powder alone can’t deliver.

"It is possible to work out that a food substitute contains the most important nutrients," Ritter says, but adds that it is not a long-term alternative to a balanced diet.

"Actually, the only complete food is a mother’s milk," and even this would get boring eventually, since "we’re really designed to eat a varied diet."

Sooner or later, you’d be sick of sipping the same old shake, Ritter says, adding that for true satisfaction you need food you can get your teeth into.

At the moment, only one variety of Compleat is available. The company says a range of flavours is planned. For the time being at least, it seems that chewable cuisine is here to stay.

Last update: Sun, 06/03/2016 - 11:19
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