In the realm of innovative growing techniques aeroponic growing is among the more obscure. It challenges just about everything the average person knows about farming by cultivating crops not in soil or even water (as in hydroponics) but in open air. To understand aeroponics, imagine a plant plucked from the ground, roots and all, and held in place so that the roots remain suspended. An artificial light source supplies the energy needed for photosynthesis and a nutrient-infused mist is applied at periodic intervals. Direct, efficient uptake reduces water usage by an estimated 90 to 98 percent compared to traditionally grown crops, fertilizer by 60 percent. A sterile growing environment and the plant's healthy immune system eliminates the need for pesticides altogether. When not absorbing water and minerals, the roots receive a direct, abundant supply of oxygen, and the delicate seedling grows faster and more robustly than its soil-bound counterparts. Soon a crop is ready for harvesting.
Air – it’s one of the things that keeps us going, keeps us alive. It’s full of that wonderful stuff: oxygen, without which we would be writhing on the floor gasping for breath. It could never do us harm, right? Wrong. In recent years, there has been a frightening increase in allergies all over the world. It’s not just an increase in the number of cases either. Reported symptoms are more severe and illnesses more debilitating than ever before. What’s more, traditional allergy treatments aren’t working. So you may ask what’s causing these symptoms. What exactly is causing the allergy? That’s the scariest part. It’s being caused by almost everything – everything manmade, at least. It’s even in the air we breathe.
Whether fish is farmed or caught free, the process of
getting delicious seafood onto the plates of consumers is rife with problems.
Open sea fishing has severely depleted wild fish stocks, and as a result,
roughly half of the seafood sold in the United States is farm raised, rather
than caught in the open waters, according to NPR.
But like most commercial agriculture, the aquaculture (fish farming) industry
struggles with problems of inefficiency and environmental impact. The practice
of confining thousands of fish to relatively small pens makes it necessary to
use pesticides and antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. Since
aquaculture facilities are usually located in the ocean, discharges of fish
waste, cage materials, and pesticide chemicals can damage surrounding
ecosystems and threaten wild fish populations. Escapement is also a problem, as
escaped fish from these facilities compete with native populations for food.
Furthermore, fish need to be fed, and the question of how to
feed farm-raised fish presents yet another challenge, particularly when it
comes to carnivorous species such as salmon and tuna. As Food & Water watch
out, farmed fish are often fed with wild species such as krill, with the
effect of further threatening wild fish populations by depleting vital elements
of our oceans' ecosystems. It's a system that's woefully inefficient: to raise
one pound of farmed tuna, for example, 15 pounds of wild fish are converted to
feed, according to chef Dan Barber -- wild fish, some argue, that could be used
to feed humans instead.
Over the past decade, the concept of organic food has taken off in a big way. Today, just about every grocery store offers some selection of organic produce, and it is generally accepted that organic growing practices yield produce that is tastier, healthier and more environmentally-friendly than traditionally grown fruits and vegetables. While recent studies have found no significant difference in nutritional value between organic and non-organic produce, health-conscious consumers are still likely choose organic in exchange for the assurance that their food has not been exposed to dangerous chemicals.
But the truth behind the Certified Organic label is a little more complicated than we might like to believe. While it's certainly true that organic crops has been exposed to substantially fewer chemicals than their non-organic counterparts, consumers may be surprised to learn that synthetic chemicals continue to play a significant role in the cultivation of organic produce.
What Makes Produce 'Organic', Anyway?
In order for produce to be labeled USDA Certified Organic, the farm must undergo rigorous inspection and growers must provide documentation that their growing and handling methods fall within the guidelines of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Prohibited substances must be absent from the farm site for a minimum of three years before its produce can officially be labeled Organic.