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"We'd have most of what we predicted of the conquest of space, if we hadn't ignored parasite control."
- Larry Niven

Synthetic Food Factories  
  Food production without soil.  

Even with the most intensive methods of cultivation, even with the synthetic food factories running day and night, there could not be produced enough to sustain life in the hordes of prolats.
From The Revolt of the Machines, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Astounding Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the food brick from Ringworld (1970) by Larry Niven.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Revolt of the Machines
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
  Tech news articles related to The Revolt of the Machines
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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