For U.S. Navy crews that serve on submarine ships, fresh food is hard to come by, as you might imagine—you know, with all the soil that’s to be found hundreds of feet under the sea. As soon as the on-board supplies are used up, Navy chefs are left to make meals from dehydrated potatoes, canned tomatoes and the like. The food’s not all that bad, as Chief Culinary Specialist Brian Pearson of the USS Missouri told the Associated Press, but sometimes crews crave something a little … fresher.
To improve morale aboard submarines, the Navy wants to provide more meals serving fresh produce. So they’re investing in $100,000 worth of research to learn how to grow hydroponic fruits and vegetables on board, the AP reports. Don Holman, former farmer and engineering technician with the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, is heading up the research, testing more than 80 fruits and vegetables. Here’s a look at some of the crops he’s grown and how they’ve fared in the constrained growing conditions of a submarine:
- lettuce: this and other leafy greens were some of the best performers
- zucchini: the large leaves blocked the grow lights
- strawberries: didn’t produce enough to be substaintial
- cucumbers: the vines became tangled
- green onions: another good performer
- root vegetables: fresh beets and potatoes may be a thing of the Navy’s future
- rhubarb: it grew, but probably won’t make the cut
In his second phase of testing, Holman will be re-growing the crops that did well track how much they produce.