Browsing the soylent subreddit recently I spotted this post and thought I’d pop a couple of related thoughts up.

By now lots of people have been living on diets containing large amounts of Complete Foods for multiple years. I’ll admit that to a point we’ve been early adopters and have been experimenting on ourselves and how we get our nutrition, but really – so long as the products are formulated as promised on the labels; there wasn’t ever anything to worry about.

That’s because nutrition is, simply, nutrition; and it’s a common misconception that there’s any real difference between natural ingredients and their synthetic counterparts. Marketers and food fad types will rail against lab created nutrition with various reasons why they’re not as good for us as “real” food; but it all boils down to a lack of understanding of what makes up everything we eat.

All food, indeed everything in the world around us, is made from the same basic chemical building blocks and whether they occur in nature or are created in a lab doesn’t matter.

James Kennedy, VCE Chemistry Teacher at Haileybury, Australia demonstrated that superbly with some interesting infographics to show how “natural” products (such as a banana) contain scary-looking ingredients as well.

Ingredients of an all natural banana

There’s a tendency for advertisers to use the words “pure” and “simple” to describe “natural” products when they couldn’t be more wrong. With this diagram, I want to demonstrate that “natural” products are usually more complicated than anything we can create in the lab. For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients found in a banana, including DNA. James Kennedy, VCE Chemistry Teacher at Haileybury, Australia

His original Banana post from way back in 2013 is here with a number of others on this archive. My personal favourite is probably the humble Coffee bean…

Let’s compare that to the Huel ingredient list…

Directly compared, Huel comes off with a lot less scary looking list. So next time someone says that real food is better for  you, remember; that’s just bad thinking.