A few times, at the beginning of Leviathan Wakes, the food and drinks available on the Belt are incidentally described. For example in this scene with Miller:

He stretched, ate his last bite of fungal curds, drank the dregs of something not entirely unlike coffee, and headed to keep peace in wartime.

And previously:

Miller stopped at a food cart near one of the tube stations for a bowl of vat rice and textured protein that approximated teriyaki chicken

Miller doesn't like both the coffee and the chicken, as they are surrogates.

So my question is: how can a Belter know the difference between a surrogate and the real food if he, like Miller, always lived on the Belt? Is there availability of the real counterparts of the engineered foods consumed daily - or is it just a way for the authors to describe it to the readers?

  • Is this "not entirely unlike coffee" thing supposed to be a reference to Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy? >8^)
    – antred
    Jun 13, 2017 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


I just started reading Leviathan Wakes, and this is actually covered very early in the novel, before the low quality of the imitation food is even brought up. (It comes before Miller returns to his apartment for the first time, which is the first time he mentions the quality of the food he eats.)

In chapter 2, Miller reflects on all the trade goods that are transported through Ceres:

Platinum, iron and titanium from the Belt. Water from Saturn, vegetables and beef from the big mirror-fed greenhouses on Ganymede and Europa, organics from Earth and Mars. Power cells from Io, Helium-3 from the refineries on Rhea and Iapetus.

So they do grow vegetables and raise livestock for food among the outer planets, and these food products are trafficked through the Belt. I think we can assume that the reason this industry is centered on Ganymede and Europa is those moons' sufficient supply of water - crops grown in the Belt would be only the most water-efficient ones, and livestock raising uses huge amounts of water compared to food crops.

When Miller meets Captain Shaddid, coffee is mentioned specifically:

Real cloth tapestries hung from the walls, and the scent of coffee and cinnamon came from an insert in her air filter that cost about a tenth of what the real foodstuffs would have.

So coffee, for one, is available on Ceres, but it's certainly very expensive, at least compared to its cost on 21st century Earth. I think we can assume that other natural food products (aside from the ubiquitous rice, and reconstituted yeast, fungus and vegetable protein) are not generally available on Miller's salary. But ten times the cost of everyday necessities is not an unattainable luxury, so he may treat himself to expensive "real" food on special occasions.

I'll update this answer if I notice any mention later of Miller's taste for real food, but I think these early points cover the crux of the question.

  • Looks like I missed those paragraphs while reading the book! Thank you very much for your answer!
    – user54256
    Feb 16, 2016 at 20:11
  • 1
    @NicolaBastianello They came before the parts that caused you to ask the question, so I'm sure you weren't thinking about it at that point, so early in the story. And of course, I'd seen your question before I started reading, so there we go.
    – recognizer
    Feb 16, 2016 at 20:39

I don't think the matter has been addressed, but I presume that various "real" foods are grown in larger habitats and on the Jovian moons and that anyone not destitute has at least tried a few.

Detective Miller was, if not a golden boy at least firmly in the groove of a successful career, once. He'd have had access to some basic luxuries.

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