Space menus have come a long way since the early days the US space program, when astronauts squirted tubes of gel in their mouths. Meals must be adequately nutritious, in the smallest volume as possible, preserved for long periods, and edible in zero gravity. And if you're at the ISS for six months at a time, it must be palatable. Technological advances over the past 50 years have greatly expanded the variety of foods that can be eaten in space. And astronauts have a say on what is taken with them.
In fact, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield put out a call to his countrymen for suggestions of Canadian food to take on board his next mission – six months on board the International Space Station from December to June 2013.
The astronauts are allowed to bring a selection of so-called "bonus foods" beyond the regular menu, provided it has a long shelf life and is appropriate for space travel.
Out of hundreds of suggestions, Hadfield and his fellow crew members, who taste-tested many products, choosing about a dozen foods, including jerky with cranberries from northern Saskatchewan, dried apple chunks and orange zest cookies from Quebec, chocolate from B.C., a bar with East Coast blueberries produced in Toronto, and, naturally, maple syrup, said Hadfield.