Rob Rhinehart was driven to start his Soylent business not only by his apathy toward cooking but also by his concern about the sustainability of the contemporary food supply chain (Rhinehart 2013). At a time when food shortages on one side of the world are being outweighed by massive overconsumption on the other, and roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted (UNFAO 2011: v), Rhinehart is not alone in his concerns. Scarcity of nutritious food on one side of the world and massive overproduction on the other bring to public attention issues of sustainable food production, distribution, consumption, and disposal (Belasco 2008; Choi, Foth, and Hearn 2014; Counihan and Van Esterik 2013; Pollan 2008; Stuart 2009). Along with the growing fragmentation of the global food supply chain and the thickening network of food businesses (Bukeviciute, Dierx, and Ilzkovitz 2009), food has become an object of political negotiations on a national as well as transnational level (Carolan 2011; Roy 2010).
The increasing rate of processed food production, rapid urbanisation, and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns (WHO 2015), which subsequently serves as an incentive for the rise of alternative food movements (e.g., locavorism, freeganism, the slow food movement), transnational food safety programmes (e.g., Safe Foods, LiveWell for LIFE, Biodiversity International), and research and development enterprises focused on improving the sustainability of the food system (e.g., Hampton Creek, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Feedback, or – probably the most extreme so far – Soylent).
Due to the growing media information overload on the imbalance of the food system and related health and ecological risks, first world consumers are becoming more cautious about their diet. Many people today crave ‘better’ and more efficient food options, both health- and environment-wise. We want to know what is in our food, where it comes from, and how it gets to our plates. We are curious about the exact statistics, obsessively counting not only grams and kilojoules but also E-numbers and food miles. 
Many different motivations underlie this food maths: some people want to be healthy; some pursue beauty ideals and sculpt their bodies through strict diets; some search for spectacular gastronomic pleasures, investing time and money in indulgent delicacies and exquisite ‘modernist’ meals;  while others crave sustainable food alternatives, seeking to resculpt the whole food system. No matter where our food needs come from, to satisfy them we always rely on different sources of data: where to buy food and how to cook it, eat it, or dispose of it.
Along with our acclimatisation to the world of web 2.0 and various social media platforms, there are many ways in which we can choose how to satiate our hunger for food data. Apart from the DIY Soylent forum, today there exist a great variety of ‘foodie’ websites, discussion forums, and smartphone apps that connect consumers over food, helping them to make ‘better’ food choices – whatever the word ‘better’ might mean in this context. These include interactive online cookbooks (Yummly, Cookstr), crowdsourced restaurant guides (Kids LiveWell), barcode scanners (Foodswitch, Fooducate), diet trackers (MyPlate, My Diet Coach), and online shopping list generators (ShopWell).