Sunday, December 26, 2010
Hydroponics and health
I've had friends of mine try to get me into hydroponics before, but I haven't ever been truly interested until today, when @TheEconomist tweeted links to these videos on "vertical farming," the brainchild of Dickson Despommier, professor of public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia University.
The magazine reports mainly on this urban-type agriculture as a way to bring local, sustainable food to places like New York City, the logistical problems, and what this might mean for battling climate change. There was also mention of how hydroponics allows for introduction of nutrients in the water, reduces need for fertilizing, and how it being a closed system recycles water.
And, the interview (below) with Despommier speaks to how this idea could potentially turn the "parasitism" of cities into productive ecosystems.
These are neat topics, although I still wonder about how realistic it is on a grand scale based on concerns about use of artificial lighting, expense, and so on.
However, from a nutritional standpoint, urban agriculture does lend to great possibilities for producing food that is healthier, cleaner and safer. As I see it, the possibilities for human health is endless.
Urban agriculture allows for much more control over heavy metals with use of refined minerals in the hydroponics fertilizer. Plus, you could standardized to reasonable exactness, the amounts the plants would receive of minerals. Then, with a controlled environment, the potential of having a standardized product comes into the picture too.
This might sound really lame to some people, but it's a nutritionist's dream -- Can you imagine walking into a grocery store and seeing fruits and vegetables with standardized nutrition facts panels complete with quantities of minerals, and possibly vitamins and phytonutrients?
You could also do a much better job controlling and enhancing the flavor of plants, which is highly dependent on what comes through the water. By adding in concentrated extracts, for example, of vanilla or orange, you could give plants certain notes or essences.
Anyway, I might have to head down to Tucson, Arizona, to check out what's currently largest system of hydroponics in the country -- and maybe have a bite of something tasty.
I might also have to order me some kind of home hydroponics system.