Conversations That Matter: Space, the final food frontier

Article content

Captain James T. Kirk opens Star Trek episodes by saying, “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It’s five-year mission: to explore new worlds. To seek out new life and civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!” Five years is a long time and packing five years of food would be impossible.

Article content

While the writers of the series dealt with the production of food in a variety of ways, everything from colored cubes to a protein sequencer that could replicate certain foods, and an onboard hydroponic greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables. The reality of producing food in space is extremely complex. And if we are planning three and more years for space missions, we need to learn how to grow it on the way, and once on which ever plant we land.

Article content

At the University of Guelph, Prof. Mike Dixon and a team of researchers have been tackling this challenge for 20-plus years. Dixon says, “We can grow food. Not all of the food we grow here on Earth, but we can grow food.” That, he points out, is just the beginning. “Being in space means you have no choice, you have to have a zero environmental footprint, which means zero waste. The waste you produce has to be recycled and put back to work immediately. We can’t wait for nature because nature isn’t fast enough.”

I invited Prof. Michael Dixon to join me for a Conversation That Matters about growing food in space and what lessons we can apply to growing Climate Smart Food here.

Join me May 16 for Conversations Live — A Vancouver Sun town hall on life sciences and BC’s innovation future

Leave a Comment