Earth Day Special: Part 2 – Food & Resources

Earth Day is here – wherein we celebrate and protect our planet’s life by doing activities that are environmentally friendly.

Did you ever do that experiment in school where you sprout a seed in a petri dish and watch it grow? Your fourth-grade teacher probably used it to teach you about what plants need to stay alive. Turns out when you take that concept and scale it up to a scale that feeds the world’s population, the inputs needed to feed us are nothing short of staggering. 

Most of Our Water Is Being Redirected to Agriculture

Agriculture is the #1 user of freshwater globally. In conventional soil agriculture, most of that water is wasted via runoff and evaporation. In fact, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates that roughly 60% of the water that is pumped or channeled for agricultural purposes never even has the chance to make it to a plant. 

Excessive water use is a major environmental issue, with groundwater depletion occurring at alarming rates due to pumping for agricultural use, both in the United States and globally. 

One of the main attractions of hydroponic agriculture is its water efficiency. As an example; hydroponic lettuce has been found to be about 14 times more water-efficient than conventionally grown lettuce. Imagine being able to grow your own food at home and being able to help our planet at the same time.

You can buy lettuce seed packets and other hydroponic system-friendly seeds from our website here.

Chemicals Are Flooding Our Fields, Food, and Bodies

In our last blog we talked about the impact of agriculture on soil health, and the risk of nutrient depletion it can create. In monoculture farms (which are the vast majority, at least in the United States) nutrient levels in soil have to be managed with chemical fertilizers which, along with run-off water, often find their way into both ground and surface water sources. 

Then of course there are the chemicals that get sprayed onto our food which can, and do, have adverse effects on human health. But this isn’t just a personal health issue. Chemicals used for industrial agricultural purposes have a large number of negative effects on local and global ecology, such as declining bee populationsincreased cancer rates due to pesticide exposure, and coastal “dead zones” due to nitrogen fertilizer runoff, just to name a few.

One of the many benefits of growing our own food locally means that we can see, and in many cases control, the chemicals that are used. If you’re planning to grow your own food, do it now! We will help you! All our seed kits and collections include instructions on how to plant them. You can check them out here.

Packaging and Transportation Cost the Earth More Than You May Imagine

Food produced non-locally must be packaged, refrigerated, and transported to its final destination – passing through many different sets of hands and using lots of resources in the process.

  • The average American produces over 1,500 lbs. of waste a year, much of which comes from packaging. Packaging has both a production impact (plastics are usually petroleum-based, and paper and cardboard result in deforestation) as well as an end-of-life impact (ending up in a landfill and emitting harmful chemicals and gases).
    • The Worldwatch Institute estimates that “food now travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table, and as much as 25 percent farther than two decades ago.” Trucks use diesel, ships require heavy fuel-oil, and refrigeration requires electricity. All of this consumes (usually non-renewable) energy and affects the environment negatively.

    Growing your own food locally reduces both packaging waste (it falls to pretty much zero) and food miles (from over 1,500 miles to perhaps 15 feet). Look at all the benefits that you could get for both yourself and our planet when you start growing your own food. You won’t regret it.

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