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#1 2002-06-05 13:22:56

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I recall in one of Dr. Zubrin's books the possibility of taking a certain type of small hen (a Japanese variety of foul?) and a certain type of fish to Mars.

However, I'm thinking the earliest colonists will be mostly vegetarian, and that not by choice. 

What are the options for food for those early colonists?  Or the first explorers/settlers themselves?  Yes, vegetables and fruits...

I presume the first explorers will eat food from packets similar to what astronauts eat. 

?

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#2 2002-06-05 15:13:21

Byron
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From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Hey,

I think the number one crop on Mars will be soybeans, as this will fulfill protein requirments in the settler's diets.  Next would be wheat and corn, most likely bio-engineered for max yield in least time, etc.  I imagine they would also grow a decent variety of vegetables like carrots and lettace to round out their diets.  Things that grow on trees like apples and citrus would probably be a long time in coming, as these take up a lot of room and won't yield nearly as much food mass per square meter as the other crops.

As for meat, I do think it would be efficient to grow fish like tapiela in large tanks, but things like pork and beef would DEFINATELY NOT be on the menu.  (Imagine sharing your dome space with a herd of cows!)

Food will be a big issue for the early settlers, and a great deal of effort will have to be devoted to making sure that they don't go hungry, considering any help from Earth would be a long time coming...lack of food could very well be the colonists' biggest obstacle to making a go of it on Mars.

Byron

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#3 2002-06-05 15:32:01

Adrian
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From: London, United Kingdom
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 642
Website

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Thread was moved from Free Chat to the Life Support systems forum - it should be here.


Editor of New Mars

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#4 2002-06-05 15:51:28

Josh Cryer
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Registered: 2001-09-29
Posts: 3,830

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Large quantities of soy beans are unhealthy for you. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which have been shown to cause cancer, thyroid problems, and infertility (in men). There is even evidence that phytoestrogens damage cognitive function.

So eating soy wouldn't be a good idea, unless you had a way to remove all the nasty bits. Fermentation removes protease inhibitors, but the phytoestrogens and isoflavone still remain.

Rice would be good, and the lab grown fish cells NASA is working on are a promising solution. But as for straight soy, I don't know if we want to really go there without fully understanding their chemical properties.

http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/


Some useful links while MER are active. Offical site NASA TV JPL MER2004 Text feed
--------
The amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth totals some 3.9 million exajoules a year.

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#5 2002-06-05 20:33:41

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I think sharing your dome space with a herd of cows or pigs would probably be psychologically very therapeutic for many people. A nice big pond stocked with good-eating fish would also be a marvellous way to keep colonists/explorers mentally healthy.
   Being so far from home and living in such an alien environment could become very depressing unless we provide as much of the familiar things from Earth as we can.
   I know it seems impractical, but we're not robots and we can't be expected to function normally unless our "world" is made as normal as possible.
                                           smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#6 2002-06-05 20:46:22

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I can see how having ponds full of fish would be psychologically beneficial, but co-inhabiting with a herd of cows? :0 Can you imagine trying to keep a herd of cows alive on a six month voyage to Mars?  You'd probably need the death star just to hold all of the hay and what happens if they all stampede and run through the walls of the dome? smile


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#7 2002-06-06 06:25:32

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Why do you have to be so blessed practical, Phobos?!
   O.K. .. How about one young cow and a few dozen frozen embryos?
   I understand that in Scandinavian countries, it's not uncommon to keep cattle in indoor pens through the long winter months. Surely a cow could survive 6 months in transit to Mars!
   I have to confess, though ... you've got me a bit worried about the hay!!
   Can anyone suggest a way around this problem?
                                           ???


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#8 2002-06-06 06:54:43

Byron
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From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2002-05-16
Posts: 844

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I second Phobos' comment...I spent summers on a dairy farm when I was a kid...cows are MESSY animals, and yes they like to stampede.  They need a great deal of space, and LOTS of food.  Raising livestock is a very ineffecient way to make food anyhow, as you need to raise a great deal of food to keep them fed, so it'd be much more sensible to stick with a veggie diet on Mars, with the exception of fish and maybe those hens Zubrin mentioned. (They don't eat much, and you get the benefit of eggs in addition to the meat)

As for the psychological aspects of having animals around, having 'traditional' pets such as dogs and cats should fit the bill nicely, I think, along with the stocked fish ponds. (would fishing be allowed?  wink

I saw a TV series on PBS recently called the "Frontier House," in which three families were selected to spend five months on a frontier 'homestead' in 19th Century Montana as an experiment to see how well 21st Century people would adapt to being pioneers in the old American West.  The biggest issue with these people was food, of course, as they had to survive off the land, etc.  Meat was a rare treat (even fish,) and the day-to-day diet was quite monotonous.  Everyone was constantly complaining about the food; about how they were starving and so forth, although the docs told them they were getting adequate nutrition and calories. 

I think the life of the Martian pioneers would be quite similar to the American ones, at least in the beginning.  Of course, once Mars is terraformed and 'civilized,' we can expect a McDonald's to be on every street corner, and the Martians will dealing with an obesity epidemic.  ???

Byron

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#9 2002-06-06 07:19:50

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

O.K. You win.
   We'll stick to fish, chicken, and vegetables.
   Shame about the cows, though!
                                     sad


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#10 2002-06-06 10:00:08

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Phobos wrote:  "I can see how having ponds full of fish would be psychologically beneficial, but co-inhabiting with a herd of cows?  Can you imagine trying to keep a herd of cows alive on a six month voyage to Mars?  You'd probably need the death star just to hold all of the hay and what happens if they all stampede and run through the walls of the dome?"

Well, one thing is for certain:  Cows attracting hordes of flies wouldn't be a problem on Mars wink

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#11 2002-06-06 10:07:04

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Shaun wrote:  "Surely a cow could survive 6 months in transit to Mars!  I have to confess, though ... you've got me a bit worried about the hay!!  Can anyone suggest a way around this problem?"

Suspended animation?  Snoozing Moo-stronauts?  wink

Seriously...are scientists working on this sort of thing?  Going to Mars, especially for people, would be -- I think -- easier if they could sleep the entire way.  Less food consumption, no mental stressors or boredom setting in.

Just wondering.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#12 2002-06-06 10:10:23

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I'm thinking most edibles will initially be in powdered, even concentrated, form.  Milk, for one.  Apparently Dr. Zubrin and other brains have figured out relatively simple ways of making more water on Mars.  Powdered substances weigh less.  Dehydrated fruits and vegetables, of course, weight less without all the added water -- and besides, regular fruit and veggies would spoil quickly.

What about freeze-dried products?  It seems to me they have less weight than regular foods?

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#13 2002-06-06 10:17:38

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Shaun wrote:  "Being so far from home and living in such an alien environment could become very depressing unless we provide as much of the familiar things from Earth as we can.
I know it seems impractical, but we're not robots and we can't be expected to function normally unless our "world" is made as normal as possible."

Getting a bit off topic:

Yes.  For that reason, I think it'd be smart to have the living and working quarters of the astronauts painted with Earth scenes (each astronaut picking out his or her favorite, of course).  Living in modules that have only tans, whites, and beiges for color would be depressing and monotonous.  Paint the walls with jungle scenes, a full-moon-lit sky, city panoramas, beach and ocean scenes, etc.  Being a woman, I'd want a moon-phase simulator in my little living space (which could simply be a changeable computer screen-saver, programmed in sync with the moon's phases as they currently appear on Earth), to keep my body's natural rhythms in balance.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#14 2002-06-06 11:54:38

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

NASA has sponsored research along these lines in the past.  It's perfectly practical to subsist on a hydroponically grown vegetarian diet.  The major nutrient lacking in such a "restricted" diet is not proteins or vitamins but table salt, which any Martian colony will need a reliable (and as yet unproven) source of.  So even the earliest explorers can reasonably expect to successfully raise some of their own food.

There will be obstacles, all of which will need to be addressed before the first Martian gardeners ever leave Earth.

The climate will be a major pain when raising vegetables.  A greenhouse will need heat and maybe supplemental light, which takes energy.  Many plants will grow anywhere they get enough light and heat, but others are more picky.  Fruiting plants especially require very precise timing of conditions during their growth cycles.  Some which are light sensitive may not grow at all on Mars. 

Another important point to consider when picking plants to grow on Mars is pollination.

Several plants, including specially bred varieties of plants that normally wouldn't be, are self pollinating.  These include varieties of peas, beans and tomatoes.  Other plants are wind pollinated.  Given a little air circulation, they see to themselves.  These include spinach and all grasses (corn, wheat, rice, etc.).  But unless you're fine with a diet of peas & spinach, eventually you will need active pollinators for your Mars garden.  Some plants -- squash, dates, etc -- have flowers large enough with enough pollen than people can pollinate them by hand efficiently enough to make a large crop.  But for almost everything else, pollination means bugs.

Honeybees can service a lot of species, as can stingless bees.  Those two species are fairly general pollinators, but their preferences do not completely overlap.  Some useful plants are very selective, luring only one type of insect for pollination.  Figs, for example, are prefered only by wasps.

And then there are the numerous fruits which are pollinated by flies.  (Sorry, Cindy.  The Martians may have to skip the cows and still be afflicted with hoards of flies.) 

But bugs aren't too bad.  Many species can also solve other food problems.  Several species of bee produce honey.  And fly larvae can be an excellent source of meat protein for the colonists without the mess and expense of cows or chickens.

It's a very complicated subject, with lots of room for original research by amatuers like us.

CME


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#15 2002-06-06 18:46:47

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Oh man, I hope they find salt on Mars.  Those are going to be bland veggies without salt to spice them up.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#16 2002-06-06 23:52:29

RobHazlewood
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Registered: 2002-03-20
Posts: 19

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

I don't think chicken would be terribly practical. Cows are pretty much out of the question.

About two months ago, I 'converted' to being a vegetarian, and i'm not going back!

I'm a pezo vegetarian (I think its spelt pezo), which means I eat fish, milk, etc. Not cow, chicken, pig, etc.

I think for someone travelling to mars, the conversion to being a vegetarian would be extremly easy. Since my 'switch', i haven't had a craving for dead animal either. It was much easier than I thought.

What i'm about to suggest next may sound crazy. It probably is.
If a large spacecraft is used, one of the most efficient forms of radiation shielding is water. You could possibly have fish swimming around in your radiation shielding. It might be a problem getting them out, though smile

Its probably easier for the first crews to do without fish. You can get all the nutrients you need from plants.

I don't think it is possible to bring enough packaged food for two years. Enough food to feed around 10 people for two years would be a significant (and unnecessary) addition of mass.

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#17 2002-06-07 19:12:21

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

RobHazlewood has doubts about the practicality of feeding 10 people for two years out of stores brought from Earth.
   I think from memory that Dr. Zubrin's 4-person Mars Direct crew were to be fed from stores for about 3 years. The weight of food involved struck me at the time as being surprisingly low.
   Is Bob being a little over-optimistic with his estimates? Or is RobHazlewood being overly pessimistic?!
   One other point: Isn't the nutritional density of meat greater than vegetables? If so, wouldn't it be better to use a high proportion of meat products in the food on a long trip because of the lesser bulk?
                                        :0


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#18 2002-06-07 23:30:53

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Yes.  For that reason, I think it'd be smart to have the living and working quarters of the astronauts painted with Earth scenes (each astronaut picking out his or her favorite, of course).  Living in modules that have only tans, whites, and beiges for color would be depressing and monotonous.  Paint the walls with jungle scenes, a full-moon-lit sky, city panoramas, beach and ocean scenes, etc.  Being a woman, I'd want a moon-phase simulator in my little living space (which could simply be a changeable computer screen-saver, programmed in sync with the moon's phases as they currently appear on Earth), to keep my body's natural rhythms in balance.

I think this would be a good topic for the civilization thread.  I wasn't aware that women actually needed to see the moon to keep their rhythms in sync. smile  Anyways, I definately hope Mars dwellings don't suffer from boring and neutral paint jobs.  I think painting, which seems to be something of a lost art now, could find a new Renaissance on Mars.  As well as things like murals and frescoes.  Especially if you build primitive dwelling places from bricks or underground caverns, or anything like that.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#19 2002-06-09 11:08:19

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Hello All.  I have some more notes on food production.

There are other methods of plant propagation than the ones I mentioned earlier: propagation from tubers (potatoes), from rhizomes (yams & mint), from runners (strawberries), from cuttings (sugar cane), and pollination by water (seaweeds, mosses).  Most plants that can be propagated by these methods can also be started from seed, which makes the shipping weight for the first crops very light.  Saving seeds is going to be very important for a greenhouse where the nearest hardware store is six months away, which means that hybrids will NOT be a particularly useful thing (especially annuals).  Hybrids do not breed true.  Older varieties of plants, such as the so-called "heritage" varieties which are no longer in fashion, are probably the best place to look for plants that can be adapted to use on the Martian surface.

Also, it turns out that plants are far more tolerant of exposure to vacuum than animals.  A crop raised in a pressurized terrarium could be harvested by opening the terrarium to the outside air.  The crop would not be damaged by exposure to outside air and the seeds would still be viable.  The plants we harvest it from may still be viable as well if the exposure does not also involve exposure to cold temperatures associated with the climate and decompression.

Instead of great big greenhouses, we may be able to get by with a bunch of little hotboxes.  Our first crops on Mars may be grown in terrariums.

CME


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#20 2002-06-09 11:57:32

Phobos
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Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

Also, it turns out that plants are far more tolerant of exposure to vacuum than animals.  A crop raised in a pressurized terrarium could be harvested by opening the terrarium to the outside air.  The crop would not be damaged by exposure to outside air and the seeds would still be viable.  The plants we harvest it from may still be viable as well if the exposure does not also involve exposure to cold temperatures associated with the climate and decompression.

Using seeds from hybrid plants is definately a danger that I hope is realized before people start growing plants on Mars.  With the direction modern agriculture is moving I hope there's a pure strain of food crop left before we go to Mars. sad  If plants are truly vaccuum tolerant, that will sure make harvesting them a lot easier if we only have to build small terrariums to keep them in.  On the other hand, you have to be careful that the plants don't freeze to death when exposed to the ultra low temperatures when you go to harvest them.  I guess you could flip on a heater that would keep the plants warm.  Maybe line the terrarium with heating elements and a thermostat to regulate so the temp stays nominal?


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#21 2002-06-09 14:22:14

C M Edwards
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From: Lake Charles LA USA
Registered: 2002-04-29
Posts: 1,011

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

There is a lot of room for experiments here, and cheap simple experiments, too.

CME


"We go big, or we don't go."  - GCNRevenger

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#22 2002-06-11 11:05:53

Lil_vader
Member
Registered: 2001-09-06
Posts: 33

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

As for the meat issue: rabbits might be the most efficient animals to raise. If well tended, a few rabbits can provide over 100 pounds of meat per year, and it wouldn't take much space to grow the food they would need. Meat would still be a rare treat, but it might help add some variety to the martian diet.

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#23 2002-06-11 21:22:29

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Food! - Marsians=vegetarians?

BGD wrote:  "...green beans, spinach, cabbage, peanuts, lettuce, cowpea-..."

*Pepsi-Cola, chocolate bars, TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets...whoops!  Can't grow those things on Mars :*(

Oh, the things the 1st-generation Marsians will miss!  wink

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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