NASA Is Actually Growing Vegetables … in Space
Freeze-dried ice cream may be a fun novelty for those of us stuck on Earth, but we’re pretty sure astronauts are tired of it.
Luckily for them, fresh, farm-to-table produce is becoming a real possibility. Those farms just happen to be in space.
NASA has figured out how to use small chambers much like miniature greenhouses to successfully grow lettuce in a zero-gravity environment. Astronauts at the International Space Station have been growing lettuce for over a decade in order to test whether greens grown under such conditions are really safe for human consumption, among other things, according to recent reporting by Grub Street.
The production system/experiment is code-named VEGGIE (what else?), and apparently, current residents at the space station are getting the all clear to test out the experimental produce. On Monday, astronauts were set to munch on their first plate of space-grown vegetables. According to an article in The Washington Post, they were to eat only half the crop of red romaine now ready for harvest — the rest of the successfully grown lettuce would be frozen so that it can be analyzed further.
It seems that NASA thinks that growing food for astronauts onsite will not only be cheaper (shipping a pound of food to the International Space Station costs as much $10,000), but also provide astronauts with a whole host of physical and psychological benefits. Fresh food is, of course, the healthiest food, so the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in colorful, fresh veg like the red romaine will give astronauts’ health and mood a serious boost. And the act of gardening and caring for plants while away from home for years on a mission could also help astronauts relax and de-stress — and we don’t doubt they need a little R&R while being crammed into tiny spaces, away from sunlight, friends and family for that long.