WHAT WILL WE EAT ON MARS?

by Federico Ronca - 19/12/2018 - 16:41

What a day! It’s almost Christmas, but we wanted to take the last slot for celebrating foodtech and discuss the future of food. We did it launching our Foodtech Village Community Meetups series, the Mixers. Together with Axfoundation, we invited the Foodtech Village Community members and friends for a breakfast-meetup at our new event space in Söderhallarna, Stockholm.

An extraordinary topic: how will we grow food and eat on the Red Planet? Two very special guests: Dr Sian Proctor, science outreach officer on the NASA HI-SEAS mission (The Mars simulation dome on Hawaii), and Dr Masatoshi Funabashi, researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Tokyo and the founder of Synecoculture.

Sian Proctor guided us through her Mars simulation journey, a 4 months program in which she realized - among other things - how important it is for astronauts to have food that not only satisfies their nutritional needs, but that also tastes good. Imagine eating for several months something that doesn’t satisfy your palate at all. You would easily get bored of it and stop eating, losing weight and precious energy. One of the solutions would be focusing on freeze-dried food: the technique that we already use for producing instant coffee could indeed be the best way to prepare tasty meals on Space. Peas, corn, berries and even meat and cheese. Freeze-dried products that preserve their flavor and can last for 10 years.

After that, Dr Funabashi showed us the potential of a new growing methodology named Synecoculture: “agriculture that overcomes the trade-off between productivity and environmental damage.” The development of this technique could support humans to produce food on the Red Planet during the next decades. In the meantime, through a better approach to the utilization of energy and the other ecosystems components, the symbiotic agriculture is renewing the traditional way of growing plants and rebuilding a broken environment on Earth.

 

We thought that a 2-hours Meetup wasn’t enough. So, we decided to cook together and taste Sian’s space-tortillas, based on freeze-dried products. We gathered at the Future Food Kitchen, in Söderhallarna’s food court, where we had the opportunity of deeper exploring Dr Proctor expertise and vision about food. After lunch, a selected bunch of growers, urban farmers and plant enthusiast joined Dr Masatoshi Funabashi Masterclass on Synecocolture, trying to understand how to produce a new good mix of edible plants and build innovative business models around this methodology.

 

We don’t know when humans will land and eat on Mars, but we are sure that scientists like Sian Proctor and Masatoshi Funabashi are contributing to the next-gen food system. We are looking forward to seeing how the entrepreneurs will grab and develop these opportunities. And we are ready to support them on this amazing journey!