Colonising a World: Food

When starting a colony on another planet, it’s important to establish a reliable source of food.  Assuming the planet is habitable by humans, there are two possible food sources: indigenous and imported.  Indigenous animals and plants cannot be relied on, as they may be incompatible with human physiology.  Therefore, a large amount of food must be brought to the planet.

Imported Food

Transporting food to another planet is tricky.  In the case of Mars, farms can be maintained on the ship in favourable conditions.  It can also be stored dry or in containers.  But this is not useful for growing on the planet.  Over a 30 light year distance, the animals may be placed in a similar stasis as the colonists.  They can then be revived on arrival to the planet.  Fertilised eggs can be stored, as well, allowing for artificial insemination after arrival.  Plants can be brought along in the form of seeds, then planted on farms.  But food must also be preserved for the colonists to eat for several weeks to months after arrival.

Animals to be brought would include chickens, pigs, cows, sheep and horses (for transportation). Chickens can provide eggs (protein), while cows can provide milk.  A wide selection of food plants would be needed, such as grains, vegetables, tubers, and fruits.  Those that grow quickly will be valuable in the early weeks of the colony.

Additional food can be in the form of processed food or laboratory grown protein.

Indigenous Food

It must be determined if the planet’s plants and animals are safe for human and Earth animal consumption. Toxins must be checked for, as well as whether they can be digested properly.  Further study is required.

If you were planning a colony, what foods would be important for you to bring?