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Meet the Woman Who Will Feed Astronauts on Mars

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By 2025, NASA is planning to send humans on a historic trip to Mars. Yes, they will boldly go where no man has gone before—but what will they eat? Popular Science recently interviewed NASA food scientist Vickie Kloeris about her quest to create space meals that are healthy, long-lasting, and—dare we say it—tasty?

Kloeris’s biggest challenge is creating food that is appetizing and can last for months outside a refrigerator. While some people picture Mars's first settlers eating fresh vegetables harvested from hydroponic greenhouses, the residents will likely be snacking on food that will have been delivered to Mars five to seven years before their arrival. And they may have plenty of options. Kloeris and her contemporaries currently provide 200 different food and beverage choices for astronauts at the International Space Station.

There are also concerns over how the meals’ nutritional content will decay over time. Scientists are tackling this challenge by studying the foods' shelf life to see how many nutrients survive. They’re also experimenting with fortifying the foods and looking into new ways to process and sterilize them so they’ll preserve more nutrients from the start.

Of course, there are still other issues at play. Researchers don’t know how deep space radiation affects food, and there’s no way to test this without leaving Earth’s atmosphere. And even though space dwellers might be able to grow some produce in an LED light-outfitted box, that is not going to yield them enough nutritionally-dense veggies to impact their diets. Meanwhile, it's unlikely that innovations like 3D-printing or insect food products will impact the way astronauts dine. 

However much work it takes, Kloeris says she hopes to make sure that space voyagers like what they’re eating. “Food is one of the few creature comforts that the astronauts have, so the food has become really important from a psychological perspective,” she says. 

[h/t Popular Science]

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Job Alert: The UK Needs a Chicken Nugget Taste-Tester

Do you like highly-processed chicken molded into mushy, breaded bites? Are you willing to relocate to England? Can your palate distinguish a savory nugget from a mediocre one? Your dream job awaits, AJC.com reports.

British retail chain B&M recently posted a job listing calling for a "chicken nugget connoisseur" to help the company get feedback on their new line of frozen food products. The chosen applicant—or applicants—will get a monthly voucher worth £25 ($34) to spend on frozen goods. Job duties consist of eating nuggets and other items and then providing B&M feedback.

The post describes the position as "temporary," so it's unlikely there's opportunity for advancement. If you care to apply, B&M will accept a paragraph describing yourself and why you’d be good for the job—though if you actually have a CV full of previous nugget-related positions, we're confident they'd love to see it.

[h/t AJC.com]

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Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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