Monday, August 13, 2018

Microstory 906: Vertical Farming

Something that some people may not know is that farming is one of the most destructive forces against nature. It requires a massive amount of land just to feed a few consumers. We tend to think of deforestation being caused by evil corporations forcing their way into rainforests for logging. And to be sure, that’s true, but what many don’t realize is how many trees, and how much wildlife has to be cleared out for agriculture. While it allowed our ancestors to settle down, and start building civilization, agriculture has also destroyed animals’ homes, and harmed the ecosystem, almost irreparably. People love to talk about these new age food ideas. They think organic foods are better, not knowing that there is no legal definition for the word, and anyone can use it as they wish. They promote almond milk over dairy, but almonds require an astonishing amount of water to grow. Don’t believe me? Look it up. A single almonds requires more than four litres. They hate genetically modified organisms, despite the fact that the majority of them don’t actually know what that means. They’ve just been indoctrinated into distrusting anything that goes by an acronym. So what’s the answer to all these problems? GMOs, for one. Done right, GMOs are safer, healthier, and environmentally friendly. Non-nutritious components can be removed, and more nutrients can be added. They can be modified to grow on less water and less sunlight, all the while being more resistant to pests. Doesn’t that sound better? Besides that, though, there’s also always the title of this microstory: vertical farming. A high volume of produce can be cultivated in only a few square meters of land. Hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, and related methods have the potential to feed billions of people. They do so with less water, limited fertilizer, and zero pesticides. Here’s the thing, plants need light to survive, but they don’t much care where that light is coming from. Yes, grow lights require electricity, but that’s just one more reason for us to invest in renewable energy sources. Vertical Farming is capable of literally solving world hunger. Virtually any crop can be grown in any environment, because everything will be done inside. There are some limitations, of course. Rooted vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, don’t grow well using these techniques, because they need to dig deep. But just because we can’t use vertical farming to grow everything, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it to grow anything. That rewilding I told you we will do in the future is made possible by this, along with clean meat, which I’ll discuss further in a few weeks. That’s reason enough to support the effort. But if nothing else, recognize that vertical farming allows everyone to enjoy fresh locally grown food, regardless of where they live.

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