The challenges of growing food in the city -- pretty much any city, really -- are well documented, and topping the list of obstacles is the issue of space. In packed metropolises like New York, where back yards, patios, and roof decks are something of a luxury, finding the necessary square footage beneath adequate sunlight can be a tall order. Still, determined growers make due, farming in container gardens on their front stoop, snagging a coveted plot in a community garden, sneaking their crops onto roofs and fire escapes, maintaining small windowsill gardens, and even engaging in some guerrilla gardening in unused public space. Commercially, rooftop farms and indoor farming techniques are becoming increasingly popular means of supplying urban dwellers with fresh, locally grown produce.
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 last decade, unprecedented spikes in oil prices
have made it clear that our current dependence on polluting, non-renewable
fossil fuels is no longer a viable solution to meeting our energy needs. But in
the search for energy alternatives, it is sometimes difficult to get a balanced
perspective on how practical, clean, or sustainable our energy alternatives
really are. Many sources of information are propagated by the industries they
support; other sources are promoted by those determined to nay-say every
alternative energy option by blowing the drawbacks out or proportion and
ignoring the advantages of these options relative to our current fossil fuel
dependence. Amid all the noise and competing agendas, it can be difficult to
discern the true, scientific facts in their proper context.
According to the findings in a recent Stanford University Study, fruits and vegetables sourced from organic suppliers turn out to be no higher in nutritional value than their factory farmed counterparts. Moreover, these foods are often far more expensive than their non organic counterparts, leading some experts to conclude that consumers are overpaying for these products.