- a proposal for Americaís space program during the current Administration -


Providing food for the crew starts with their nutritional requirements also bearing in mind that they need a variety of foods if they are to maintain their sanity. The nutritional requirements would be the standard requirements for their age and gender with perhaps some modest modifications given that they are in a reduced-gravity, higher-radiation environment and probably at a high level of physical activity given a fairly vigorous exercise program. So, those requirements would be along the lines of calories, carbohydrates, fats, protein, micronutrients, fiber, avoidance of harmful components, etc.

Then one has to come up with a long list of all of the foods that we think can likely be grown using an initial hydroponic garden system. Certainly this includes the salad vegetables, other vegetables, grains, legumes, a limited number of non-tree fruits including the melons, peanuts, non-tree oils, fish, herbs, and maybe some small, potted trees. Mushrooms would also be part of the produce. A limited amount of shipped ingredients could be included such as tree nuts & fruits, cinnamon, olives, as well as some flavorings. Fresh food (e.g. avocadoes), chocolate, etc could be among the occasional payload deliveries.

There could be a separately sealed garden section of the habitat with its own airlock. There could be an elevated CO2 level area of the garden provided that it could be interacted with safely for the crew. The work from the Lunar Greenhouse Project at the University of Arizona Ė Tucson is a good guide for the greenhouse volume that would be needed for an initial crew of eight.

I think that next would come a dietary analysis taking into account tested recipe preferences of the individual crew. However, those dishes could still be created and simply not served to the member who has that food aversion.

At the ingredient level, there could be some overproduction with the crew preserving the ingredients for later use. Preservation could include refrigerating, freezing, dying, canning, etc.

Next comes the identification of specific recipes that would meet the nutritional and variety needs of the crew. Then the plants and animals needed to provide the ingredients would be identified for each recipe and therefore would define what produce needs to be harvested when and then, planning backwards, when those plants would need to be planted. Some consideration should be given to how difficult it would be to make a particular recipe and hence perhaps avoid one that is particularly hard to make in that one or more ingredient might be hard to produce. See the pumpkin pie example below.

From the culinary standpoint, some of the crew should be selected but especially trained to prepare the specific recipes anticipated. To share the workload, the not-so-culinary crew should none-the-less also be trained to prepare specific ingredients and dishes.

I think that breakfast would be eaten by individual crew whenever they want. Lunch would be all together but typically relatively quick. Suppers would take more time to prepare including with place-settings and presentation of the food to make it special not just for the crew but also for the watching public. A Lunar Cookbook should be developed with recipes that would work given all of the above considerations.

Now for the pumpkin pie example. Letís say that we want to have it for Thanksgiving dinner. This is a recipe that could be somewhat difficult to make. The ingredients include:

   - Flour
   - Salt
   - Shortening
   - Water
   - Pumpkin
   - Evaporated milk
   - Eggs
   - Brown sugar
   - Ground cinnamon
   - Ground ginger
   - Ground nutmeg

We would need to hydroponically grow wheat, soy milk, arrowroot plant (egg replacer), sugar cane, ginger, and ship cinnamon and nutmeg. Perhaps one could make soy-based margarine by hydrogenating the soy oil. Real food experts should be able to come up with a somewhat different plan than this. But it gives the idea. So, one would have to think backwards to determine when these various plants would need to be planted to ensure that they could be harvestable at the right time.

Cooking (microwaving, heating, frying, toasting, baking, etc) would have to be done in such a way that heat is being rejected and gas being produced can be managed without noxious fumes building up. Also, the plant waste would need to be processed. This could be done with a combination of bioreactor, mushroom cultivation, and maybe plant-eating fish.

Speaking of fish, tilapia seems popular among space advocates. The thought would be that fish are a good initial source of meat and that they could be fed spirula algae grown in sheets similar to that on the left

The current concept for the greenhouse is that a curtain rod type of frame would be hung from rings in the ceiling. From this frame would be sheets which would include troughs from which the plants would grow. Frequency-tuned (magenta) LED lights would likewise hang from the frame alternating with the sheets of plants thereby providing the right type of light to all of the plants throughout. The sheets of plants could be pushed to the side using curtain-like tracks in the frame. This would create a walkway for which planting, harvesting, and maintenance would be done. In this way, the maximum amount of food could be grown in a given space. Itís along the conceptual line of the rolling filing cabinet system:

A lot of work needs to be done in order to ensure that the Initial Crew is adequately provided with nutritious and delicous food.

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