The Challenge of Healthy Eating in Antarctica

Caitlin Saks and Arlo Pérez of the PBS Series Antarctic Extremes visited the McMurdo Station in Antarctica to learn how workers are fed. Because fresh food cannot be grown due to the frozen climate, the pair learned very quickly that healthy eating would be a challenge. They also found that they were hungry all the time.

Generally, an adult human consumes around 1,600 to 3,000 calories daily. But in colder climates, people need to eat more: Keeping our warm-blooded bodies warm requires a lot of energy. It’s so cold in Antarctica that the average person needs to consume 3,200 to 5,000 calories a day… And because the continent is frozen, no food grows there naturally.

Eating in Antarctica

They learn how the people who prepare the food make do. They prepare lots of pasta, bread, and sweets. They rely on shipments of goods and recycle what they can. Especially the frozen vegetables.

Throughout their one-month stay in Antarctica, hosts Caitlin Saks and Arlo Pérez discover the secret sauce of Antarctic cooking from experts at McMurdo’s galley (Hint: Need to reconstitute a meal? Just add cheese! Need to keep that cheese beyond its expiration date? That’s what freezers are for) and scientists at remote research sites.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.