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Favorites and "not so"


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Thank you for joining us, Vickie.

Can you enlighten us on what foods get a thumbs up from the astronauts and what gets a thumbs down? Do you keep track of that sort of thing and does that information direct your research into new "menu items"? Do you have a best and worst? I am guessing that this is a more important issue on the long missions (ISS) rather than shuttle flights. Is that true?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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If you include all the U.S. foods and beverages, the crewmembers currently have about 200 items to choose from in putting together their flight menus. With such a long list of foods and such a large number of astronauts (~100), it is difficult to identify an exact "best" and "worst". The astronauts are like any other group of people when it comes to food. Each one has very specific likes and dislikes. One crewmember's favorite food, might be another's most disliked. Prior to a crewmember selecting their menu for flight, he or she participates in a food evaluation session where they sample flight foods and rate them on a 9-point hedonic scale (from dislike extremely to like extremely). We do keep a record of all these scores, both for evaluating the individual foods and for helping crewmembers plan menus the next time they fly. In general, our most popular food in the past has been our freeze-dried shrimp cocktail. Our least popular items have been fish items, due to the odors created by these items on orbit.

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Our least popular items have been fish items, due to the odors created by these items on orbit.

I guess that leaves out brussel sprouts. :biggrin:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Growing up in the late eighties we used to get Astronaut Ice Cream as a special treat from the Air & Space Museum. Have they improved it at all?

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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The Russians tend to put their fish products in gelatin and the like...that may help with the odor. We have had U.S. crewmembers complain about the Russian fish as well. The Russians are much more used to a higher fish content in their diet than is the typical U.S. crewmember. The astronaut ice cream is not part of flight food systems. A freeze-dried ice cream flew on one Apollo mission at the request of a crewmember. It has never flown any other time. Commercial companies decided that the freeze-dried ice cream had a niche market in NASA visitor's centers, museums, etc and thus it is being produced by commercial companies for that purpose.

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A freeze-dried ice cream flew on one Apollo mission at the request of a crewmember. It has never flown any other time.

Bah, that takes a lot of romance out of it! I suppose they don't really use those "space pens" that write upside-down either. :biggrin:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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A freeze-dried ice cream flew on one Apollo mission at the request of a crewmember.  It has never flown any other time.

Bah, that takes a lot of romance out of it! I suppose they don't really use those "space pens" that write upside-down either. :biggrin:

No, I think they actually use those.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Bah, that takes a lot of romance out of it!  I suppose they don't really use those "space pens" that write upside-down either.  :biggrin:

No, I think they actually use those.

Regular ballpoint pens work just fine upside down, and -1g should be a tougher case than 0g, so I don't think they'd need pressurized ink. Or they could use pencils.

I bet Cheetos are bad news in space. Cheesin' up the instruments and whatnot.

...
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A freeze-dried ice cream flew on one Apollo mission at the request of a crewmember.  It has never flown any other time.

Bah, that takes a lot of romance out of it! I suppose they don't really use those "space pens" that write upside-down either. :biggrin:

There go my childhood memories.....

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Not sure about the space pens...not my department. Cheetos would be a mess. In general chips don't work well. Some crewmembers have chosen to take the Pringles as part of their fresh/special request food since they are in a can and can withstand more than a bag of chips. However, they still make a lot of crumbs and the crewmember has to be willing to put up with that and likely will be forced by fellow crewmembers to clean up the mess they leave behind.

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What are some of the common requests?

What changes have you seen in the eating habits of those lucky enough to go into space?

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Which begs the question... How does an astronaut clean up his Pringles mess? A little bitty vacuum cleaner? :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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They do actually have a wet-dry vac on the Shuttle that they use to clean the air filters and pick up water leaks, if they occur.

Special request items cover a broad gambit, but things like candy, cookies, crackers appear on the list quite often. Of course, everyone has there own particular brand they want to fly. We also include cultural items from other countries as part of the fresh food, if a crewmember from another country requests them. I'm not sure what you mean by changes in eating habits. If you mean are there permanent changes in eating habits, the answer is no. Crewmembers acclimate to eating in orbit and this may include changing some of their dietary habits, but those changes are definitely not permanent.

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I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. Over the years different eating trends have come and gone. The current no/low carb is an example. Also, American's have become more adventurous eaters in the last 50 years or so. Sushi, burritos and hummus are regular parts of our diet. How have these changes impacted food prep at NASA?

By the way, congrats on the success of the Mars rover. The pictures are very exciting.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Thanks for the well wishes. We are very excited about the success of our colleagues at JPL. We do not advocate a low/no carb diet for our crewmembers, since that is not a healthy long term diet. In 1998, when we begin formulating custom thermostabilized items to add to the food list for ISS, we took into account some of the changes in dietary habits as well as some of the potential requests for foods from our future International Partner crewmembers. For instance, we have 3 thermostabilized food items that are tofu based. Nothing like that existed in the U.S. space food system.

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