Heinz Marz Edition Ketchup Tomatoes Were Grown Using Mars Soil Conditions

Fruits and vegetables can have different tastes depending on the region and soil they are grown in. The folks behind Heinz ketchup have a new product called Heinz Marz Edition made with tomatoes grown utilizing soil conditions that are present on Mars. Heinz Tomato Masters worked with a team from the Florida Tech Aldrin Space Institute to successfully grow the tomatoes used in the special ketchup.

There was more behind the project than simply creating a new version of the condiment. The project was created to improve knowledge of growing tomatoes in a sustainable way both on Mars and here on Earth. Heinz says that this type of experiment helps improve our understanding and creates solutions that can be used to tackle challenges here on Earth.

One of the key missions that Heinz says it undertakes is protecting the soil, and projects such as this help it learn more about growing crops sustainably. One of the more interesting positions in the corporate organization of Heinz is called Chief Growth Officer, held by Cristina Kenz. She said that the company is excited its team of experts was able to grow tomatoes in unknown soil conditions which are present on another planet.

Work began on analyzing the soil resulting from Martian conditions two years ago, and the tomatoes have now been harvested. Before growing the crop of tomatoes, most efforts to grow plants in simulated Martian conditions were short-term growth studies. However, this project was a long-term project focused on harvesting food. As a result, the team harvested a crop with the quality to be manufactured into Heinz Marz Edition ketchup.

To grow the crop of tomatoes, the team built a special greenhouse called the "Redhouse" at the Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology. The greenhouse had conditions similar to those we would face trying to grow food crops on Mars. Conditions included artificial LED lighting and 3500 kilograms of analog Martian regolith. The analog Martian regolith is essentially soil as close to actual soil from Mars as we can get.

One of the challenges of growing food crops on Mars is the Martian atmosphere. Not only is the atmosphere significantly thinner than it is on Earth, but it's also comprised of 95 percent carbon dioxide with less than one percent oxygen. Mars also gets much colder than Earth because it's much further away from the sun.

While Heinz has announced its Marz Edition ketchup, it's not clear where or if it can be purchased at this time. The short teaser video for the product appears to show a sealed foil pouch-like dehydrated foods would be presented in aboard the ISS. We hope this is a product that comes to stores for people to purchase and try. However, making a commercial run of a product like this would take lots of tomatoes, and it's unclear exactly how large of a crop was grown in the simulated Mars conditions.

Learning to grow food on Mars is key to any long-term future human habitation. It would be extremely difficult and expensive to transport all the food needed to support the human colony from Earth to Mars. Any future scenario where humans set up colonies or research stations on the Red Planet would require farming to provide food for explorers.