Tag Archives: food

Space settlements and food security

Food security is defined by Wikipedia as “the availability of food and one’s access to it”. Usually we speak about individuals when we talk on food security, but we can easily extend this concept to societies at large. A society enjoys food security if there is enough food available for its members, and they have access to this food.

A society has two ways to ensure that the supply of food is sufficient: by producing its own food, or by importing such food. Once enough food is available, ensuring that each member of society has access to sufficient food is the big concern. The implementation of an adequate basic income guarantee will provide everyone with the means to buy food. Hence the sole concern would be availability of sufficient amount of food.

Related to food security is the concept of food power, which is the use of food as a mean to exert power. If country A depends on the import of food from country B, the latter country can exert power on country A by denying supply if A does not meet certain conditions establish by B. These condition might be unfavourable to A, and hence this country looses sovereignty.

Space settlements has to choose between producing or importing food.  If the latter option is chosen, the space settlements became vulnerable to the exertion of food power by Earth. In this way terrestrial governments might force space settlements to implement policies, which are in violation of their own preferences. If, however, the former option is chosen, a powerful weapon is denied to terrestrial governments to influence the (domestic) policies of space settlements.

If we want to implement the social reforms we desire in space settlements, such as our proposals for monetary and banking reform, it’s of great importance that these settlements have a certain degree of independence. Therefore space settlements should be able to produce their own food. In another post we will discuss how space settlements can grow food.

See also

Space settlements and vegetarianism

Molecular farming and Space colonization

A proposal for the animal friendly production of eggs

Recently the first hamburger made of in vitro meat got much attention, not in the last place because Google founder Sergey Brin was revealed as the primary funder of this project. Much of the appeal of in vitro meat, is because this development would allow us to reconcile our desire to consume meat with our commitment to animal welfare. In vitro meat eliminates the need to kill animals, and it also reduce the number of livestock needed to meet the demand for meat.

But meat is not the only popular food obtained from animals. Eggs and dairy are other much consumed animal products. Even if by switching to in vitro meat will reduce the number of livestock held for meat, a large number is still required to produce milk and eggs.

And not only the number of animals needed is a problem from the perspective of animal welfare, but also the issue of young male animals. Since the latter are mostly valueless for dairy and egg industry, they are usually killed soon after their birth. But the male young account for half of the new-born animals.

In case for dairy the solution is quite simple, instead of using animal milk we could switch to plant milk. To “improve” plant milk we could genetically engineer plants to produce animal proteins such as casein. From plant milk one could produce all kind of dairy products such yoghurt or ice cream. I once read an article about extracting proteins directly from grass, which could be used for subsequent human consumption.

Eggs seem to be more difficult to replace, but like meat most consumption of eggs is in processed food. Eggs are used as binding or raising agents in many food products. Vegans and other people who do not consume eggs, have found several substitutes for eggs for these purposes, such as flax-seed and starch flour. By using these substitutes, the number of animals used for the production of eggs can be reduced.

But even if we are able to replace eggs in processed food products, there is still the “direct” consumption of eggs. The question is of course, if we can culture meat in a lab, can we cannot do the same thing with eggs? After all, the eggs we consume are nothing else than big cells. In vitro meat is produced by growing stem cells and turning those into muscle tissue. And as we have discussed here and here, stem cells can be turned into egg cells.

Once we have “artificial” (chicken) egg cell, we have still no (chicken) eggs. The challenge is now to simulate the processes which turn an egg cell into an egg in the laboratory. First we have to grow the egg, by feeding it nutrients. And subsequently, we have to give the grown egg a scale. But if this technology can be developed, we have a method to produce eggs for human consumption in a truly animal friendly way.

See also

Space colonization and vegetarianism – this post discusses the importance of vegetarian diets in space settlements.

Space colonization and in vitro meat – this post discusses the prospects of in vitro meat for space colonists.