First NASA turned the International Space Station into a farm-to-table neo-bistro, and now the Dutch want to live the modern-farmer lifestyle on Mars. A group of scientists from the Netherlands’ Wageningen University and Research Center managed to grow plants in simulated Martian soil earlier this year, and they’ve found that those crops are safe to eat. Martian soil contains much more toxic heavy metals than dirt on Earth, and the scientists feared that the plants grown on Martian soil would absorb enough of these metals to become dangerous to consume. But the four crops they tested — peas, radishes, rye, and tomato — are safe to eat, and some had even lower concentrations of metals than they usually do.
However, the results haven’t withstood the rigor of peer-testing and the soil was not actually from Mars but just an approximated version, created from chemical tests conducted by orbiters and landers. The research, it turns out, was backed by the space-colony hopefuls behind the MarsOne project, but ecologist Wieger Wamelink is more interested in the benefits for Earth. In a time of growing concerns over the readily apparent effects of climate change on the food chain, the ability to grow crops in a soil that would’ve been deemed insufficient before could prove pretty useful.