Saturday, April 11, 2015

Local Food Is Not Organic,Necessarily

The New York Times had an article the other day on a "vertical farming" project in Newark, NJ.  An excerpt:
Unlike urban vegetable gardens of the past that took advantage of empty lots or evolved in rooftop greenhouses, AeroFarms employs so-called aeroponics and stacks its produce vertically, meaning plants are arrayed not in long rows but upward. Because the farming is completely indoors, it relies on LED bulbs, with crops growing in cloth and fed with a nutrient mist.
 I've been critical of some vertical farming concepts, particularly the ones which rely on sunshine and ignore shade, or use fluorescent lights.  LED's are more efficient than fluorescents so it's possible that such setups are energy-efficient when you add in the energy savings on transporting produce to market.

Meanwhile Sec. Vilsack is pushing local food:
Local food gives consumers a chance to know the farmers producing their food, to access fresher food and an opportunity to keep food dollars in the local economy, he said. In short, “local and regional food systems create a better connection between people who produce and people who eat.”
 But the organic types have reservations:
A definition for local would help organic farmers make the case for why their often more expensive produce is worth the cost, argues Laura Batcha, director of the Organic Trade Association.
“There is definitely an issue with the public differentiating between local and organic,” Batcha said. “In many cases, both things happen together … but the public, I think, assumes that local is organic.”

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