Soylent Green

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In the year 2022, human overpopulation has reached such desperate proportions that New York City struggles to accommodate a population of 40,000,000 people, nearly half of them effectively homeless and out of work. A tiny minority of the super-rich live like omnipotent hereditary nobility, wantonly consuming hundreds of times their fair share of the planet’s dwindling resources, maintaining their mid-20th-century standards of living while the great bulk of their fellow men and women lack running water, reliable electricity, or sufficient dwelling space to live like human beings. And naturally, only the rich are able to afford what we think of today as food. With strawberries going for $150 a jar and meat a rare luxury even for the upper class. The basic nutritional needs of most Americans are met by the products of the Soylent Corporation. Soylent Yellow, the oldest of the company’s three flagship foodstuffs, is an unpalatable paste made from soybean concentrate; it’s high in protein and a diet based on it will keep you alive and more or less healthy, but it isn’t something you’d eat if you had much choice in the matter. Soylent Red is rather less nasty. Another soy product, it is versatile enough that it can be made into passable approximations of most grain-based foods, and unlike Soylent Yellow, it can be described with a straight face as having a flavor. But the masses’ current favorite is the new Soylent Green. With Green, the Soylent Corporation has branched out a bit, turning, according to its advertising literature, to the vastness of the oceans for its raw materials— whereas Soylents Yellow and Red are soybean derivatives, Soylent Green is made from oceanic plankton, the closest thing to an infinite nutritional resource that the hard-pressed Earth still has to offer. Unfortunately, the very newness of Soylent Green means that it is in chronically short supply, despite the nearly limitless quantities in which it should theoretically be available;...
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