It’s easy to have fantasies about how cool it would be to live on Mars in an abstract sense — imagining life in some sort of sleek, geodesic dome. But it’s harder to really picture the little things which, in such a harsh environment, would prove so different from living on Earth.
For instance, the way we think about food would vastly differ. Everything that came from Earth would have to be weighed based on its usefulness. Food on Mars would be all about utility. Cows, chickens, pigs — they require an extraordinary amount of resources. There’s no real place for livestock in a world in which people are struggling to survive. On Mars, you wouldn’t be eating a juicy burger while looking out at the stars from a bubble because you’d likely be a vegan (or eat lab-grown meats). Comfort foods that we know and love on Earth would have to be reimagined out of nutrient-rich plants, which are worth cultivating because of their high return on the investment.
As scientists work to figure out what plants make sense for colonists to grow in those beginning years — and what plants could eventually thrive in Martian soil — they also must ask how they can grow food sources that will bring people joy. Because yes, in the early days, we’ll be concentrating on survival, but nothing is worth surviving without some basic human pleasures. Things will be very different on Mars, but some things we’re always sure to crave, like the satisfaction of a good meal balanced with what will nourish and sustain our bodies.
Watch the video above to learn more about the challenges scientists and thinkers face as they approach how to feed and grow resources in a colony so far away and check out the rest of the NatGeo/Uproxx collaboration 24 Hours In Mars here.