Eating In: The Biosphere Cookbook

This has to be one of the strangest cookbooks ever published, Eating in: From the Field to the Kitchen in Biosphere 2. Author Sally Silverstone was the food systems manager during the much hyped and ultimately disastrous Biosphere “mission” that began in 1991. Without falling down the rabbit hole of discussing what went wrong and why the Biosphere project became fodder for a Pauly Shore movie, I’d just point out the hubris of thinking that you can simulate mother nature in her infinite complexity.  Watch episode 2 of Adam Curtis’ All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace for more on that problem.

Philosophical quibbles aside, what’s interesting about this cookbook is that ambitious suburban homesteaders might be able to, like the Biospherians, source entire meals from the backyard and make use of the bare-bones recipes in this book. And don’t worry about having to grow your own cooking oils–the Biospherians had trouble with that and have thoughtfully skipped any deep fried items.

The Biosphere’s kitchen.

But let’s get to those recipes! For relaxing next the the shore of the Biosphere’s simulated ocean there’s “Beach Blanket Bean Burgers,” “Bean Balls in Cheese and Tomato Sauce” and “Banana Bean Stew.” For meat eaters there’s pork, chicken and tilapia but, as this is the Biosphere, you’ll have to do the slaughtering yourself. And for desert there’s “Biospherian Rice Pudding,” “Biospherian Baked Doughnuts” (made with potatoes) and “Banana Wine.”

Like Archdruid John Michael Greer, I find it hard to believe that the fantasy of orbiting space colonies that inspired the Biosphere seemed doable when I was a kid. It’s obviously time to revise those plans. I have a strong suspicion that in the future we’ll be “eating in” just like the Biospherians, except that our “in” will be good old terra firma.

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  1. Erik: this made me laugh out loud. It seems very George Jetson at this point, doesn’t it? I’d like to see more of that kitchen.

    And hey, hands off my bean balls!

  2. I grew up in Arizona, and toured the biosphere several times on school field trips, back when it was new and exciting. It was really interesting to see (through the glass, of course) how it changed over just a couple of years. Back then I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

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