Far Out Foods
What do you usually pack to eat on a long trip? Maybe a few granola bars and a couple bottles of water?
Thanks to detailed records kept by the Pilgrims, we know that they brought a large quantity of seeds with them during their voyage on the Mayflower to the New World. These seeds were used to start gardens that sustained the new colony. They produced quick-growing crops like mustard, protein-rich peas, and carbohydrates from wheat and oats.
On an expedition to the Arctic in 1819, British sea captain Sir William Edward Parry fortuitously brought along a pocketful of cress and mustard seeds. When his ship the H.M.S Hecla was stuck in the polar ice for nine months, these sprouts helped prevent scurvy amongst the crew.
The crew of Expedition 44 to the International Space Station in 2015 also packed along seeds. Astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren became the first Americans to ever eat food grown in space–a leafy romaine lettuce salad.
According to the sci-fi classic Star Trek, we are still a few centuries away from having a food replicator aboard a starship. However, NASA and partnering space agencies are currently developing gardens that will one day sustain life on a space station and maybe even a Mars colony.
So, the next time you pack food for a long journey, you may want to choose some hearty granola bars. You know, the ones with the seeds in them…just in case.
To learn more about sustaining life in far-out locations come to the Museum Moonshine program at the National Air and Space Museum on September 10, 2016 from 8 to 10 p.m. Museum Moonshine is an evening garden party that celebrates the treasures of Earth and space by highlighting craft food and drink inspired by earthly botanicals and space science. Tickets available here – http://s.si.edu/2beYmHi
– Brett McNish, Smithsonian Gardens Horticulturist
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