London: Even as scientists explore possibilities of human settlement on the red planet, speculations are now on as to what could be the diet of the first human settlers in Mars.
"Initially, a vegetarian diet would seem logical as it is the simplest in terms of agricultural management," wrote noted author Doug Turnbull in Space.com.
However, for a source of animal protein, the early Mars settlers might turn to grasshoppers.
"They have a tremendous advantage over many other meat sources because of their extremely efficient conversion of vegetable matter into insect protein," Turnbull was quoted as saying.
A typical Mars cuisine could also include soyabeans, that could provide basic proteins. Greens, sprouts and even seaweed would be common sources of food.
And mushrooms require little or no light, they could be excellent food source, Turnbull added.
While not popular in most European countries and the Anglosphere, grasshoppers are a major source of animal protein in Asia, Africa and South America.
Grasshoppers are twice as efficient when converting vegetable mass into protein as pigs, and five times as efficient as cattle.
In addition, the husbandry associated with raising grasshoppers is relatively simple compared to that needed for cattle, chickens or hogs, and their rapid reproduction rate and short life cycle allows a stable and continuous harvest.
It would be much easier to transport insects to Mars than to send large animals, Turnbull said.