October 8th, 2009

Planets of Peril

Sidebar text - alien foods

Here's the sidebar text I ended up with for the alien food thing:
Yes, But Is It Kosher..?
One of the questions to come out of interplanetary travel is the religious status of alien foods. Europa is an extreme case because it has so many edible species, but it’s a question that has vexed scholars of several religions since the first landing on Mars. Many religions have dietary codes, and every new edible species discovered must be tested to see if it conforms. In the case of Europa, for example:
  • Bladder-Birds are not predators and do not have cloven hooves or chew cud. They are Kosher if prepared correctly; they must be freshly killed and drained of all blood, and the heart, lungs, and air bladder must be removed.
  • Nutsies are Treyf (non-Kosher) since they resemble shellfish and their diet includes decaying material.
  • The Liver-leaf and Truffles are both considered to be plants, and Kosher if washed to remove insects etc.
These are relatively simple examples; the arguments for e.g. the suitability of Venusian fish for eating by Catholics on Friday, or if any of the Martian or Europan species can be eaten by Buddhists, can be far more complicated.

I don't think I want to cover this in more detail, does it seem sufficient?
Planets of Peril

It's Life, Jim...

Final version of the section on on alien foods and religion - I've edited and pared it to fit a particular space, so I can't easily make any changes in case they make paragraphs overflow to a new line:

It’s Life, Jim... But Is It Kosher..?
One of the odd questions to come out of interplanetary travel is the religious status of alien foods. Many faiths have dietary codes, and edible species must be tested to see if they conform. Europa is an extreme case because it has so many edible species, but the question has vexed clerics and scholars since the first landing on Mars. In the case of Europa, for example, the Liberal Jewish interpretation is as follows:
  • Bladder-Birds are not predators and do not have cloven hooves or chew cud. They are Kosher if prepared correctly; they must be drained of blood and the heart, lungs, and air bladder must be removed as soon as they are killed.1
  • Nutsies are Treyf (non-Kosher) since they resemble shellfish and their diet includes decaying material.
  • The Liver-leaf and Truffles are both considered to be plants, and Kosher if washed to remove insects etc.
Orthodox Jews and Buddhists refuse to eat any Martian or Europan species since they are neither animal nor vegetable.

These debates are common to many religions; for instance, the Vatican took several years to rule that Venusian fish can be eaten on Fridays!

1 A variant opinion compares bladder-birds to bats, which are treyf, and refuses to eat them.


The text describing these species is here if anyone has forgotten.

Does this seem to work, or is it a bit too terse?