The Martian Becomes Reality: Researchers Successfully Grow Edible Crops In Martian Soil

About eight months ago, scientists from the Dutch Wageningen University and Research Center announced that they were able to successfully harvest crops on “Martian” soil — as in, soil simulant from the planet Mars. However, there was just one catch: the researchers could not conclusively determine whether or not the crops were safe for human consumption.

But that’s all changed.

“The Martian becomes reality: at least four crops grown on simulated Mars soil are edible,” a June 24 Facebook press release states.

According to the post, research has now demonstrated that at least four of the 10 crops they harvested — radish, pea, rye and tomato — do not contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and copper. In fact, for some heavy metals, the concentrations showed up as even lower than in the crops grown in your standard earth-based potting soil. 

Therefore, they can be eaten by humans without posing a threat to our health.

“For radish, pea, rye and tomato we did a preliminary analysis and the results are very promising,” ecologist Wieger Wamelink is quoted as saying in the press release.

“[W]e can eat them and I am very curious as to how the tomatoes will taste.”

According to The Washington Post, we shouldn’t be readying our forks for a Martian-based meal quite yet; not only have the results not yet been published in a scientific journal, but simulated Martian soil is not actually the same thing as authentic soil from Mars. The scientists were actually working with an approximation based on chemical tests that Mars orbiters and landers conducted.

In other words: We don’t know if we can actually grow and eat crops on Mars' soil until we actually try to grow crops on real Martian soil.

If you find that your appetite for a Martian-based meal is suddenly raging, however, you can check out the crowdfunding campaign to help the scientists raise the money to test out the six remaining crops. 

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to test all ten crops yet which is why we set up a crowdfunding campaign through which people can feel a genuine participation in this research,” Wamelink is quoted as saying in the press release. “Donors will receive a variety of potential gifts of which my personal [favorite] is a dinner based on the harvest that will include potatoes grown on Mars soil simulant.”

"There are over 7 billion people on the planet, and they have to be fed," Wamelink told The Post. "One solution is to grow crops in places where it's now basically impossible."