Quantity over quality; that just about sums up today’s food industry. We want lots of food, we want it fast, and we want it cheap. So, we turn to mass-produced foods that are often genetically modified and full of chemicals, herbicides and other things we shouldn’t be eating.
And Then There’s The Weather…
We put a lot of faith in a food system that is dependent on so many factors, like the weather, for example. This Memorial Day weekend, agricultural meteorologists in the U.S. Midwest and Plains were counting on hot temperatures to finally give the corn and soybean crops the growth spurt they so desperately need. There have been major planting delays this season due to an unseasonably cold April, and while the warmer temperatures were expected to help the farmers catch up with the average harvest time, there will likely be fewer kernels in this year’s crop.
A Looming Food Crisis
We need to find alternative ways to grow and distribute our food; not only for our health but for food security too. The UN projects the world population will grow to over 9 billion people by 2050, meaning food production will need to increase by about 60 percent. To make matters worse, experts say the world has lost one-third of its farmable land in the last 40 years.
What are we going to do?
Enter a company that is truly solving many of the food issues the world currently faces. Bowery Farming touts itself as “the modern farming company” creating ideal growing conditions for the cleanest produce imaginable. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?
Bowery Farming uses a warehouse just outside New York City to grow its crops; very similar to freight container farming, it can be done anywhere, no matter what the climate or landscape. Weather and space are never an issue for the food it grows because it’s all planted indoors in vertical rows. Because the process takes place in a warehouse minutes outside of the city, the produce is delivered to restaurants and grocery chains the day it’s harvested. You can’t get fresher than that.
It also means the produce is always in season, grown 365 days a year in a perfectly controlled climate. From seed to harvest and delivery, Bowery monitors every step of the way with the latest software, robotics, lights, and cameras. LED lights mimic the full spectrum of the sun, and software continuously captures data throughout the growing process. This way, the plants always get exactly what they need, whether it be water and nutrients, or a light adjustment. The high-tech farm says it uses 95 percent less water than typical agricultural practices and is 100 times more productive than a square foot of farmland.
Crop cycles are incredibly fast; much faster than traditional agriculture. All of the data collected helps optimize growing conditions for subsequent crops, making it even more efficient than it already is. Most importantly, everything grown at Bowery Farming is done so without the use of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or any other agrochemicals. Seeds are always non-GMO, and the software used ensures the food is harvested when the flavor and nutrients are at their peak.
The produce grown at the warehouse currently includes leafy greens like baby kale, butterhead lettuce, arugula, and basil. CNBC reported that celebrity chefs in the New York area have invested in this venture, and that comes as no surprise; not only is it dependable, but the farm can also customize ingredients for them, like producing a soft-leaf kale, or extra-peppery arugula.
The foodscape is changing thanks to companies like this. Optimizing growing conditions for all kinds of crops can change the way we eat; it can provide us with food security, and the nutrients we need to stay healthy.
Imagine how things will change once similar warehouses start popping up in cities around the world? It certainly is the next evolution in farming.
Featured image courtesy of The Hydroponics Store.