Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Industrial agriculture birthed modern civilization. As the world’s population passes 8 billion, agriculture is reaching unsustainable limits. Food production is currently undergoing drastic transformation to keep up with demand. A shortage of food supply is already causing famine, inflation and potentially climate change induced war. Meanwhile, new companies like Gotham Greens, Bowery Farms, Farm One and hundreds more are popping up to participate in solving our global food production issues locally. The innovative new solutions that farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs are working on are great but what about going one step further? What about bypassing all these problems and going to the source? Growing food at home. What if every kitchen came preinstalled with fully-automated hydroponic system for growing fresh food? In a world now turned upside down by corona-virus, now is as good a time as ever to take a closer look.
Think Star Trek replicator in your kitchen. Instant food at the press of a button. That would be pretty cool but the closest thing to a Star Trek replicator is currently a 3D food printer. NASA started exploring the idea of a 3D food printer back in 2012 and an affiliated Russian startup called 3D bioprinting solutions tested their technology in the international space station. 3D bioprinting solutions recently announced a partnership with KFC to print plant based chicken nuggets.
"By exploring and implementing technologies such as 3D printing, this may avoid food shortage, inflation, starvation, famine and even food wars." David J Irvin, Project Manager. NASA PROPOSAL # 12-1 H12.04-9357 TITLE: Printed Food System for Long Duration Space Missions
There's also an argument to be made about the health issues associated with ultra processed ingredients used in 3D printing. Although some 3D companies are using fresh produce to print food like Natural Machines. A more viable option NASA has explored since 1973 is hydroponic (and aeroponic) grown fresh food to deliver long term sustainable nutrient rich produce for deep space travelers. Fast forward to 2015 when NASA approved the growing and eating of aeroponic red lettuce in space. There are many commercial spin-offs using this technology. New high tech hydroponic companies from all over the world are building semi-automated products to grow indoor hydroponic produce. Companies like Cloudponics Grobox, Urban Farmers Pro Vios system and Grobo have some cool products but are quite expensive and that puts it out of reach for most people. All this commercial activity and consumer demand for long term planetary solutions puts us another step closer to permanently growing year-round food at home.
To fully realize the future of food at home, materials need to be cheap and readily available. Commonly manufactured materials like those manufactured for residential buildings and can be reliably sourced from a local hardware store. What's needed, in my opinion, is an opensource, non-patented, basic system that anyone can set up at home or buy as a kit with instructions. Ergo homefarmhydroponics.com aka Home Farm Hydro was conceived to encourage everyone to grow their own food at home. Home Farm Hydro is also about sharing and inspiring others to embrace indoor hydroponic farming as a safer, more convenient and freshest possible source of nutrition.
There is number of compelling reasons to routinely grow food our own at home. Nutrition, pesticides, waste, cost, food security, sustainability, climate change or most recently for 'stay at home' government orders during global infectious disease outbreaks. News of produce infected with Salmonella, E. Coli, Cyclospora are becoming a regular occurrence. Many of these diseases are born from animal fecal matter in the food industry's battery farms. The agriculture industry is not adequately self regulating and governments are not implementing policy to ensure our health and well-being [ref *]. It's dizzying to keep abreast of all the headlines and know what's safe but what we can say with some certainty is that profit is a higher priority than health.
Any one of these reasons is good enough in it's own right to be seriously concerned about how and where we get our food. The most likely reason to trigger long term widespread adoption is convenience. Growing food traditionally is hard work so its no wonder modern humans have become totally complacent in the convenience of a local grocery store. This makes us complicit in the cause of all the problems discussed in this article. My thinking is if convenience got us into this trouble, convenience can get us out. What if anyone could turn on with a switch and watch an indoor farm virtually run itself. Since most of us are not geared up with the skills, time or inclination to build and run our own indoor farms at home, what if the future kitchen came designed and equipped with fully automated hydroponic growing systems? As I've learned, with a little knowledge, it is relatively easy to run a small indoor farm to supply yourself and your family with freshly grown produce. For me, it was for health reasons but it was also to bypass the commercial food industry that does not have our best health interests at heart.
If you found this article interesting, please stay tuned for more on growing your own food including how to build your own year-round semi-automated indoor garden that delivers a constant supply of super fresh and healthy produce.
Published 12.2.2020. *updated: 1.24.2020 linking to article II.
Indoor hydroponic companies:
NASA & 3D food printing: