The researchers simulated Martian soil in their university’s greenhouses since 2013. The harvests include peas, radishes, rye and tomatoes, all of which contain no heavy metals like lead, zinc, arsenic, chrome, nickel, iron manganese, aluminium, cadmium and copper, which could make the vegetables poisonous.
These four vegetables were planted in 2015. There were 10 crops in total but the others are not yet tested.
“These remarkable results are very promising” says the research team’s senior ecologist Wieger Wamelink. “We can actually eat the radishes, peas, rye, and tomatoes and I am very curious what they will taste like.”
The levels of other heavy metals in the plants were even lower than the crops we grown in a regular soil. The researchers say that they still need €25,000 (US$ 27,660) to test the six crops, which include potatoes.
So far, their crowdfunding campaign has reached more than €11,000 ( more than US$ 12,000). The campaign runs until the end of August so there is still plenty of time to support the research.
‘It’s important to test as many crops as possible, to make sure that settlers on Mars have access to a broad variety of different food sources,” points out Wamelink.
The crops are also tested for vitamins, alkaloids and flavonoids. Once approved by the Dutch Food Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the vegetables will be cooked for the dinner that will be offered to the study’s sponsors.
The dinner participants will have the privilege of being the first people to taste the Martian vegetables. They will find out if the crops grown on Martian soil taste different than the ones grown on Earth.
“Mars One is very proud to support this important research. Growing food locally is especially important to our mission of permanent settlement, as we have to ensure sustainable food production on Mars,” concludes Bas Lansdorp, CEO and co-founder of Mars One, supporter of the research. “The results of Dr. Wamelink and his team at Wageningen University & Research are significant progress towards that goal”.