The other day I had to figure out what to make for dinner. On this mission, we have plenty of raw ingredients â€” pastas, tofu, dehydrated beef, freeze-dried vegetables, and even complete meals â€” so I puzzled over my options for some time. My turn to â€œcookâ€ fell on a day that we were required, by the HI-SEAS food study, to use just-add-water-and-heat foods only. In the end, I went with a dehydrated meal of sweet and sour pork with rice. On the side, I added rehydrated green beans, couscous and some pouches of instant paneer makhani in case the sweet and sour pork turned out to be a dud. From concept to sit-down dinner for six, the whole process took about 35 minutes.
Not bad. But to be honest, on that day, Iâ€™d rather have spent the time doing something else. It would have been awfully nice to simply turn to a Star Trek-like replicator and pull out plates of perfectly layered lasagna. And I know Iâ€™m not alone in thinking this. Thatâ€™s whyÂ recent newsÂ that NASA awarded aÂ $125,000 grantÂ to a company developing a 3-D food printer for future space missions got so much attention. After all, it promises to reduce time in the kitchen with a sci-fi flourish. But should printed food be the future of sustenance on remote space outposts? Based on my experiences living and eating on this simulated Mars mission, Iâ€™m not so sure.
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