It’s always been thought of as kind of a sci-fi fantasy, but with the recent discoveries of water on the Red Planet, advancements in technology, and Matt Damon's inspiring performance in The Martian, it seems that the possibility of a human colony residing on Mars’ surface within our lifetimes might not be totally out of the question. And while this raises all sorts of logistical and ethical questions like “who?” and “for how long?” and “will they have Netflix?” our focus here at The Feast, as you might expect, remains on food. Specifically: What would these Mars colonizers eat, and where in the cosmos would it come from? It’s not very practical to keep shipping food between Earth and Mars, and the aforementioned space pilgrims won’t exactly be able to zip to the store for a pint of ice cream unless Ben & Jerry’s seriously expands their distribution abilities in the next few decades. (Though they do have that "Oat of this Swirled" flavor…)
But this week we learned two things that could potentially answer that question and give us insight into what a Martian diet could look like.
The first revelation comes from Food and Wine, who reported that scientists with the International Potato Center (Yes, for real) completed extensive testing that confirmed genetically-modified potatoes could be capable of growing on the surface of Mars. The scientists recreated the harsh atmosphere and weather conditions of the Red Planet right here on earth, and were amazed at the resiliency the potatoes displayed in their ability to grow despite the conditions.
So, potatoes it is.
The second thing we learned came from SXSW in Austin, where Budweiser announced they are hard at work trying to figure out a way to brew beer on Mars. Currently, the biggest hurdle to brewmasters appears to be finding a way to create carbonation in a zero gravity environment. To really get a jump on interstellar brewing, a Budweiser spokesperson confirmed they’ve already begun planning a set of experiments that involve taking barley malt to the International Space Station for research. Assuming Budweiser is able to solve its carbonation issue, and tap into Martian ice caps for water, it stands to reason that beer would immediately become the go-to pairing for future Martians' meals.
So there you have it. Space beers and space potatoes. Let’s hope the colony has a treadmill.
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