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.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

4 thoughts on “Hydroponics and health

  1. If you have a chance, check out http://terraspheresystems.com/and or http://convertedorganics.com/I have been doing some research on VF my self, it is looks like these guys already have plants in place. The following is from Terrasphere's website:TerraSphere Systems, LLC designs and builds highly efficient systems for growing organic fruits and vegetables in a controlled, indoor environment. TerraSphere's revolutionary technology:•manipulates growing conditions to accelerate plant production and maximize crop yield, •uses and controls precise combinations of light, water, nutrition, gravity, centrifugal forces, and gasses, •creates ideal growing conditions for commercially-desirable crops in compact, automated facilities.The TerraSphere system will revolutionize the way that:•remote communities access fresh, organic produce,•agricultural producers address land management issues, •hunger crises are alleviated for the world's growing population.

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