There are so many options to choose from. Conventionally grown. Certified organic. Locally grown organic. Genetically modified. Hydroponically grown. It gets confusing. Lately I have been reading a lot about hydroponically grown fruits and veggies. On the surface it sounds like a good choice, but I wanted to know for sure.
First what does hydroponically grown mean? Hydroponic vegetables are grown suspended in a liquid solution containing the minerals the plant needs to thrive. In most cases, a hydroponics farm is enclosed within a greenhouse, but hydroponics systems can also be set up outdoors. The water used in hydroponic farming can be recycled through the system.
A 2003 article in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that the carotenoid content of hydroponically grown vegetables was lower than that of conventionally grown vegetables. This is tested by squeezing a couple of drops of liquid from hydroponic produce onto the prism of a refractometer, which measures the amount of carbohydrate and dissolved minerals in the juice. This gives the brix measurement of that particular food. The minerals in high brix produce are readily and easily assimilated because they are in naturally chelated form and foods with a high brix actually taste better. Animals instinctively choose the highest brix foods they can find. High brix produce also naturally resists insects, disease and rot.
The essential problem with hydroponic farming arises through its use of a mineral based solution to grow and nourish the plants instead of soil. How can a mineral solution can ever take the place of black, worm filled, organic soil, that the farmer carefully tends season after season?
You will see “organic hydroponic” but is there really such a thing? There are a couple of problems with this: the huge “organic” hydroponic operations are using glyphosate-containing herbicides like Roundup and other chemicals, which organic producers are barred from using. This alone is a massive issue as there are over 13,000 lawsuits pending against Bayer/Monsanto because of these cancer-causing, immune-destroying herbicides. Also, since they’re grown in a high-humidity environment, they can be more susceptible to pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella.
When a soil-based farmer seeks to be organically certified, there is a transition period of three years during which time the farmer must grow their crops 100% clean using no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides before those crops earn the USDA Organic label. There is no transition period for a hydroponic operation. This means they can use any chemical on their land or greenhouse allowed in conventional agriculture in any quantity at any time. They can immediately receive an organic certification as long as they replace the growing medium, which in the case of hydroponics is shredded coconut husks (coir), which do not provide any nutrition, as rich soil does. So, hydroponics and organics are mutually exclusive terms.
So what should we choose when even hydroponically grown produce sprayed with glyphosate can now technically be labeled “USDA organic?”
It becomes very important to know how your organic food is grown. Growing your own is the absolute best option but of course, not possible for everyone. Next best may just be locally grown, organic fruits and veggies sold at farmer’s markets or independent natural food stores, even if it isn’t officially certified.
Here’s the bottom line: Research shows healthy “living” soils, those teeming with bacteria, fungi, protozoa and microscopic roundworms, support the growth of food with higher nutrient content. Nature, as it was created to function, is impossible to beat.
Have you ever purchased hydroponically grown produce? What was your experience with it?
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Ann, I wish they didn’t make labeling so confusing. I’ve wondered about hydroponics. Thanks for informing me on this.
Always glad when I can provide practical information, Debbie.
Ann, I’ve wondered about hydroponics. I appreciate your research. I wish they were more concerned about the consumer in their labeling. Thanks for being a watch dog!
I wish they were too Debbie!
Thanks, as always, for the info Ms. Ann. There were a few words I had to look up. I don’t use “chelated” or “brix” too often here on the farm. Perhaps I should use them more. I liked your point about how everything labeled “organic” doesn’t mean it is. I depend on things like fertilizers and herbicides to keep my pastures and fields at the peak of production, but I do try and “weigh and balance” environmental impact vs. productivity. In all honesty, sometimes productivity wins out. Still, we must all be aware that we get out what we put into what we grow. Thanks ma’am.
Thank you J.D. for your perspective and thoughts as always. I am especially appreciative since you are involved in farming and can see it from another perspective. We only benefit from seeing all sides. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for doing the research on this topic’ it was very insightful. I’ve used hydroponics labeled organic as they produced better flavor than anything I have ever found at the local markets. I’ve noticed over the past several years flavor seems to be missing from even locally grown organic items as well as conventional.
Glad it was helpful Cindy. Unfortunately our entire food supply is in deep trouble.