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Aquaponic Raft Beds Installed

We have finally finished construction on our aquaponic raft beds, also known as Deep Water Culture (DWC)! The system is up and running and we have hooked the raft tank in to the main fish tank, so the water is full of nutrients that drain from the grow bed and fish tank. We aerate the water with an air pump hooked up to air stones, and the plants’ roots hang down into the aerated water.

Even the children are excited, and got to help us transplant the first lettuces into the raft.

These beautiful red and green lettuce should be ready for market in 3-4 weeks.

Aquaponic Raft Beds - 33 Aquaponic Raft Beds - 25 Aquaponic Raft Beds - 16

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Are Organic Foods an Indulgence We Can’t Afford?

USDA Organic SealI recently ran across this article in The Independent: The great organic myths: Why organic foods are an indulgence the world can’t afford. The article lists seven “myths” about organic food, and proceeds to debunk each:

  1. Myth one: Organic farming is good for the environment
  2. Myth two: Organic farming is more sustainable
  3. Myth three: Organic farming doesn’t use pesticides
  4. Myth four: Pesticide levels in conventional food are dangerous
  5. Myth five: Organic food is healthier
  6. Myth six: Organic food contains more nutrients
  7. Myth seven: The demand for organic food is booming
While I agree with that article’s basic premise, that organic foods are not necessarily better for the environment than foods grown conventionally, I disagree with its conclusion, which seems to be that we might as well give up on organic and accept conventional farming and all its evils if we want to feed the world. 

I can’t find the quote right now, but in his book “Sowing Seeds in the Desert” Masanobu Fukuoka says that organic farming is just conventional farming with a different set of chemicals. This is obviously true if you look at the way large organic farms operate. 

The problem with food production today has nothing to do with the method, organic or conventional. The problem is that we have fewer farmers per capita than ever before in human history. Today a tiny number of “farmers” (if you can call them that) control a majority of the food that is produced on increasingly consolidated and huge-scale factory-like operations. What we eat today is more of a commercial product than it is food. This situation is economically unfair, environmentally unsustainable, and politically dangerous.

The key to feeding the world in the coming generations is not “Organic” or any such label or remix of farming techniques. It is for more people to take responsibility for their own food; for more farmers to grow food for their local communities; for consumers to get to know their farmers and participate in their own food. We need people to reconnect with their food. We need food production to be as widely distributed as possible – the opposite of what we have today. 

So I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with Organic food per se, or that, as the article’s headline dramatically states “the world can’t afford” organic food. The world CAN afford GOOD food. Everyone has a right to eat, and everyone should have access to good food. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I want to be a farmer, because I love food and I love people, and I love to see people enjoy food that I’ve made especially for them.