Suggested Title — Vertical Farming: A Green Solution for Overpopulated CitiesAccess to fresh, healthy food is a national issue. While the United States has seen a rise in farmer’s markets and an increase in organic, local foods at grocery stores, the fact remains that the price to obtain fresh and healthy foods is steep.
Many problems encircle the issue of fresh foods including the price of fresh fruits and vegetables for families with many children, the carbon footprint that comes from the transport of vegetables across the country to large cities, and especially the way in which non-organic foods impact the environment. It’s almost a catch-22– while the United States wants and needs to include more healthy, farmed ingredients in their diet, access to food that is both widely affordable and safely and sustainably harvested is almost impossible. To combat hunger dominated by poverty, food-related health issues, and the high demand for fresh food within cities the United States needs to focus both on implementing vertical gardens within those overpopulated cities as well as spend time educating children about gardening and farming from a young age. By dispelling stereotypes about what a farm or a garden needs to look like and embracing urban, vertical gardens, overpopulated cities will notice a change in the overall health of their citizens as well as improved quality of life within those cities.The Ethics of The SupermarketFor most, the idea of farming and gardening conjures to mind a home with a red barn in the countryside. The animals and people are happy, and each piece of produce in its small plot of tilled land is plump and green. The reality is that most of the food available to those who do not grow their own is not a part of this picture. In a recent report done by the Guardian, the UK estimates that 70% of the produce grown in their produce aisles is imported from overseas.
If the United Kingdom were superimposed over the United States, it would reach from the Oregon border to Los Angeles, not even covering parts of the states that it touched – meaning that “overseas” for the UK is often much less distance than importing domestically in the United States. With produce being transported daily by oil-dependent vehicles, this does not bode well for the health of the United States environment.Indeed, the environment is at stake when “conventional agriculture” is discussed. This is the type of agriculture that the United States currently relies on to feed its ever-growing population. This refers to industrial farming that is used to create the highest yield product. The USDA has made it well known that this type of farming has no regard for the delicate ecosystems found all over the United States.
It all but ends biodiversity, permanently alters the natural environment, and turns quality soil into dead soil. In addition, the food produced at these large farms usually are less nutritious than small-farmed, organic vegetables because of soil depletion.The large populations that these vegetables and fruits feed are usually found in large, overpopulated cities, meaning that people in cities seeking to eat nutritiously are paying more for food that is not as good for them than food they could grow themselves.
What is Vertical Farming? It would seem that growing your own food would be a fantasy in a large, overpopulated city. However, it isn’t. Vertical farming could potentially be the solution to providing environmentally-sustainable, readily available, nutritious and affordable food for people. Vertical farming on a large scale involves raising vegetables within a building within a city to provide fresh, local food.
In combination with city-wide composting systems, vertical farming could all but secure the future of fresh food within cities. Not only would it address the rapidly growing populations within cities (a population which is expected to raise the need for food by 70% by 2050), but it would place plants in situations and environments that are virtually free from drought, disease, and soil issues that have caused food scarcity in the past.This will also impact the amount of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by the United States, as the amount of transportation needed to get produce from place to place will decrease significantly with the implementation of large-scale vertical farms. It will also reduce the cost required to pack and transport vegetables over a long-haul, meaning that the cost to consumers will be that much less. Even with all these benefits, there are those environmentalists who are calling for an end to factory farming overall.
Their concerns are raised about the runoffs likely to be produced by vertical farms within city limits, the cost to build these structures, and what that means for the future of farming. While these concerns are legitimate, it does not mean that vertical farming practices should be abandoned. The truth of the matter is that there is no practical way to sustain the populations in overpopulated cities that does not include some form of mass-produced food. While it would be nice if every family in America had their own garden, this neglects the needs and realities of those who cannot afford the startup cost of creating a garden – a cost that could add up to over $200 to obtain all the necessary gardening implements needed for city gardening.Re-Thinking GreenThe most drastic change that needs to happen before any sort of city-wide vegetable farm can be implemented is the change in mindset about what makes a garden. While opponents of vertical gardens argue that vertical gardening is not “what farming should be”, neither is the conventional farming that is currently feeding our population and ruining our soils.
More questions need to be answered regarding sustainable use of soils and soil additives within these buildings, but that is always the case with any new idea during its implementation. Lastly, people need to be encouraged to connect with their food sources. Finding ways to create individual and community gardens for underprivileged communities in big cities is one way to do this, but a general education about how to plant and create gardens within the infrastructure of a city is also needed. With so many options for sustainable agriculture available, the future of farming and food for overpopulated areas is looking bright.