The Star Trek Show That Ruined Food Forever

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek discovery

One of the coolest sci-fi concepts featured in Star Trek is the food replicators–all characters have to do is walk up to the replicator, tell it what kind of food or drink they’d like to consume, and watch it instantly appear. This technology has become so commonplace that fans have spent literally decades pondering such fundamental questions as “what is the replicated food made of?” In a horrifying twist, an episode of Star Trek: Discovery revealed that the replicated food and drink that everyone tucks into in Starfleet’s future is, in fact, made of human waste.

There Came A Tide Alright

star trek replicators

This nasty Star Trek revelation occurred in “There Comes a Tide…”, when Admiral Vance was having what was meant to be a diplomatic conversation with Osyraa, the Orion leader of a violent criminal gang known as the Emerald Chain. Vance was understandably annoyed at the fact that Osyraa had effectively snuck into the heart of the Federation under false pretenses. That annoyance is made manifest when the Orion dubs the replicator apples she is eating “a thing of beauty,” prompting Vance to respond “It’s made of our sh*t, you know.”

Well It’s Not Really That

star trek replicators

The initial revelation from this major Star Trek character conjures up some terrible mental images about the replicators. Fortunately, the admiral quickly clarifies that while the replicated apples his opponent is eating are technically made of feces, it’s not fair to say that she’s eating waste directly. Instead, feces forms “the base material that we use in our replicators,” but their Starfleet technology is used to “deconstruct it to the atomic level and then reform the atoms.

That Isn’t What They Ate On TNG

Perhaps the one comfort that Star Trek fans can derive from this conversation about the replicators is that this is a change that came about somewhere between the time of Picard (the 25th century) and the future point in time the Discovery traveled to (the 32nd century). When you see a character like Deanna Troi replicate some chocolate for herself, she’s not about to tuck into yesterday’s meal (so to speak): instead, those replicators used other methods (including protein resequencing) to create food. 

Caused By The Burn?

We don’t know exactly when Starfleet made the change, but it could be relatively recent because Discovery traveled to a time when the Burn had diminished Starfleet and severely dwindled its resources. Either way, as funny as it was to see Osyrra’s reaction to what Vance said, it would have been funnier to see more of this Star Trek show’s regular crew get used to this aspect of 32nd-century life. How would someone as bright as bubbly as Tilly, for example, react to the fact that her replicator burritos now have a very different protein inside of them?

Maybe Just Cook Something Yourself

One thing’s for sure: when the fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on April 4th, we’re going to be watching the replicators closer than Stamets watches his shrooms. What kinds of delicious onscreen meals will be absolutely ruined by the knowledge that futuristic technology has turned every dinner into something of a bathroom buffet?