The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Vegetables In Space Are Happening (And Safe To Eat)

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Feb 11, 2014 3:30PM

(Image by StudioSmart via Shutterstock)
We’ve watched our share of Star Trek—enough for the Vulcan salute to feel like a fairly natural greeting. But even Leonard Nimoy didn’t grow his own aeronautic vegetables. The Russians, it seems, have beat him to it.

The International Space Station has been bearing fruit—and veggies like peas, Japanese leafy greens and dwarf wheat—for years, but only in recent weeks have they been deemed safe for human consumption. Russian researcher Margarita Levinskikh of Russia’s Institute of Medical and Biological Problems reported to the Voice of Russia that all plants have developed normally and taste great too. Cosmonauts taking a break from a freeze-dried diet and trying the veggies have reported no follow-up sore tummies.

Levinskikh went on to state that in 2015 astronauts aboard the International Space Station will sow rice, tomatoes and sweet peppers in an attempt to render voyagers self-sufficient while saving money spent restocking shuttle shelves. Inside Lada (the orbiting greenhouse named after the Russian goddess of spring) multiple generations of plants grow from detachable root modules. Once emptied, the modules are returned to Earth for analysis. Tests for noxious microbes and contaminants parallel the same procedures conducted on terrestrially grown food.