Opinion: A Martian menu that could transform how we eat on Earth

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Editor’s Note: Evan Fraser is director of Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, Canada. Lenore Newman is director of Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, Canada. They are co-authors of a new book, “Dinner on Mars: The Technologies That Will Feed the Red Planet and Transform Agriculture on Earth.” The views expressed in this commentary are their own. View more opinion on CNN.

CNN  — 

What might humans eat on Mars? With space agencies including NASA and China’s National Space Administration hoping to send crewed missions to Mars within the next two decades, and tech billionaires like Elon Musk developing plans to colonize the red planet, feeding a Martian community would be a key question to solve.

With a round-trip taking over a year, Mars is much too far for takeout. And it costs $10,000 to lift a single pound of material off Earth, which means space explorers would not be able to bring their own supplies either. If humanity is ever to make it on the red planet, we will have to develop self-sustaining systems to produce food in one of the harshest environments imaginable.