O Canada! Food on the International Space Station
Duration: 105 minutes
Every province and territory across Canada has its unique cuisine or famous dish, which was likely influenced by the geography and culture of the place. With its vastly different landscapes and cultures, Canada boasts many types of foods that are specific to different regions.
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) selects foods across Canada to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) for CSA astronauts and their crewmembers to enjoy. One of the requirements is that the food product be made by a Canadian company and be a unique item to add variety to the foods available on the Station. The CSA aims to make a variety of products available to provide a good representation of Canada. In prior missions, the CSA sent British Columbian fish and seafood; Québécois ready-to-eat meals such as stews and risotto, maple syrup, cookies, and chocolate; Albertan ready-to-eat foods such as a whole grain salad; Saskatchewan pemmican jerky; and Ontarian red peppers.
As mentioned in "
Close Encounters of the Tasty Kind," food sent to the ISS should meet a number of criteria.
Recommended properties for space food:
- Not carbonated (not bubbly or fizzy)
- Texture is not crumbly or brittle
- Food is chewy, sticky, thick, spicy, or flavourful
- No strong odours
Food packaging and processing for space flight:
Foods packaged or processed in the following ways are best for space flight:
- Not packaged in glass
- Small quantity packages
- Lightweight (dehydrated or naturally lightweight)
- Shelf-stable at room temperature for a minimum of 12 months
For this activity, participants may need to propose processing, packaging, or sensory changes to their chosen food product/dish to make it suitable for space. Examples of changes include:
- Dehydrating or freeze-drying a food product (this also extends the shelf life)
- Making liquids thicker
- Swapping crumbly bread products for low-crumb products like tortillas
- Repacking a product into small portions
- Adding an easy-pull tab to a can
Combining multiple methods of the above is acceptable, especially if the dish has multiple food components.
For more information on food processing techniques, refer to the background in Close Encounters of the Tasty Kind and Trading Spaces: Living and Eating Off Earth.
Note: The ISS does not have refrigeration or freezer capabilities for food, so suggestions to freeze food or keep cold in a refrigerator are not suitable for space.
In this activity, participants will learn about a variety of foods across Canada including multicultural dishes and famous cuisines by province and territory. Participants can choose a specific dish/meal from a specific province or territory to send to the ISS to represent Canada.
|Lesson using background information||10 minutes|
|Activity #1||15 minutes|
|Activity #2: Assignment of province or territory||5 minutes|
|Activity #2: Small groups conduct research on their assigned province or territory and brainstorm popular foods and how to transform into a space-suitable item||60 minutes|
|Group presentations||15 minutes|
To increase knowledge of Canadian geography, culture and food. To increase knowledge of the provinces and territories of Canada. Additionally, participants will increase their knowledge of food processing and packaging to alter an item to make it suitable to be sent to space.
By the end of the lesson, participants will be able to:
- List basic geographical features of at least one province or territory in Canada;
- Identify cultural or popular foods in at least one province or territory in Canada and differentiate between foods that should be consumed more often or less often based on Canada's Food Guide;
- Describe at least one way to transform the food item to make it space-suitable.
- Laptop/tablet and library access
- As a class, discuss and create a list of popular foods or food dishes in your province. Ask participants to identify which foods meet the food guide and should be consumed more often and foods which do not meet the food guide and should be consumed less often. Additionally, ask participants to brainstorm ways to transform certain foods on the list to make them suitable for space.
- Participants work in small groups to research an assigned province or territory in Canada to gain information about the basic geography, cultures, and popular foods. Each group can draw the name of a province or territory out of a box. The groups can research their province or territory to determine which food item would best represent the region while meeting Canada's Food Guide. Additionally, participants can describe how they could transform the food to make it suitable for space (altering the packaging, processing it differently, etc.). After the food is chosen and designed for space, each group can present to the class.
The presentations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Brief history of province or territory
- Geography of province or territory - does this affect the cuisine?
- Famous food dish
- Methods to transform the item to make it suitable for space
- Explanation of how the chosen food meets Canada's Food Guide
If the participants are unable to gather a lot of information about the province or territory, refer to the additional resource information for help.
Download the printout (PDF, 424 KB)
Download the participant handout (PDF, 424 KB)
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