Last summer I cut open a ripe looking watermelon. It looked reasonably red inside, but you could taste the chemical fertilizer used to grow it. Many of us buy the ripe looking tomatoes in the grocery store, and wish they had the rich vine ripe flavor of tomatoes grown in a home garden. We could go on and on listing our frustration and complaints but it would not affect reality at all until someone did something about it. Big business is not going to change how they grow crops, just because people complain that they don't taste as good as home grown. They have huge investments in their businesses and people buy what they sell anyway. Their motivation is to make their produce look better than their competitors so people will buy it. Their idea of number 1 quality does not mean it has flavor and nutrition. It means it looks nice and is a larger size. You buy the produce before you taste it, so the primary motivation is to make it look good.
However technology does not sit still.
There is always someone thinking outside the box.
We see commercial Aquaponics as an absolutely brilliant, outside the box, answer. Dirt and greenhouse farmers are not able to control all factors of the growing process. Growing aquaponically indoors you can control every single detail. We even control the bands of light that a plant receives. Plants use about 30% of the bands of light in natural sunlight. Our modern LED grow lights are designed to only produce those exact bands.
To be economically viable an aquaponics system has to be large enough to recover its yearly costs and produce a profit. The setup costs need a reasonable payback period. The grower needs to be connected to a large enough buying market that will buy what he grows. His produce is perishable so he has a limited time from harvest till that produce has to be sold. An aquaponics operation can produce more than is expected. We will sell to the local farmer's markets, to grocery stores, restaurants, and into the national distribution channel.
We are setting up our commercial aquaponics operation different than a typical organic farm and different than a typical large corporate farm. The typical organic farm is usually designed around supporting a single family selling to the local community. A typical large corporate level commercial farm is usually designed to produce the maximum possible, pushing the long term envelope of legal, moral and ethical values. Why, because modern fertilizers rely heavily on stimulants rather than nutrition to cause the plants to look large and healthy. While many large commercial farmers would argue this point, the proof is in the quality of the produce.
Is the produce in our grocery stores getting tastier and more nutritious year after year? Most consumers would say no. What is the long term affect of the chemicals, stimulants and GMO modifications of our current food supply? Are these creating many of the sickness and diseases that were unheard of 50 years ago?
While the chemical revolution may be deemed a success depending upon one's view, we believe growing food organically (as the plants were designed to be grown) is the answer. The meaning of the word organic in aquaponics is far more organic than what is allowed by the USDA in their certified organic standard. And rightly so, because in an aquaponics system, things have to be pure or it would be unhealthy for the fish. Many of the measurements of the USDA organic standard are measured in percentages (parts per hundred), while in aquaponics, we measure in parts per million and parts per billion. Additionally, with aquaponics there is no negative environmental impact.
A grower's personal values should be looking to the long term best interest of the community and the nation. We do not believe the large corporate chemical revolution folks share that same long term philosophy. The availability of chemicals is not going away, nor should it. Some of them are necessary for dirt and greenhouse farming. However, the short term use of these chemicals at the long term expense of our health, should change.
As far as any chemicals used in aquaponics, we use only a few plant nutrients and they all qualify as organic. We don't use chemical pesticides, herbacides, or fertilizers. As aquaponics becomes mainstream, there will be a shift in the marketplace towards healthier food. We believe the existing strong up-surge toward healthy organic food, will get considerably stronger. Especially as the availability of truly organic food becomes readily available and people are able to taste the difference.
Have you ever tasted the nutritious flavor of vine ripe tomatoes, watermelon, or lettuce?
With aquaponically grown produce, you can!
By the end of 2014 we expect to be producing upwards of 20,000 heads of tasty organic lettuce per month, each month of the year. In 5 to 7 years we expect to be in most of the major quality grocery stores across America.