If you just said ‘hydro-what?”, this post is for you!
What is hydroponics and what does it have to do with Freedom Foods?
Hydroponics is a growing technique that refers to agricultural systems where plants are grown some sort of water-culture in a greenhouse. All of the nutrients that the plants need for growth are fed through water that is then captured, recycled and recirculated through the system, making it a wise use of our water resources.
This growing technique is a new extension of our expanding business here at Freedom Foods and will enable us to reach new and different markets. We will be using it primarily to grow lettuce and greens.
Why grow this way?
Hydroponics is a great way to grow produce consistently in a greenhouse, especially during the winter seasons in Indiana. Because there is little to no soil to contribute outside and unwanted bacteria, it is a very clean growing method. It is easier to maintain once established, because we won’t need to be continually adding new soil and amendments to the growing beds or fighting weeds among the plants, as we would in more a traditional greenhouse. It is also a great way to precisely control and maintain the proper nutrient content needed for healthy plants, and it can lead to higher crop yields.1
Does lettuce grown hydroponically taste different?
No, hydroponic lettuce tastes as good as lettuce grown through other methods, based on personal experience. This is also backed by research: a study conducted by the University of Nevada found no significant differences in quality or taste between lettuce grown in a hydroponics system or lettuce grown in a field2.
Are there nutritional differences between hydroponically-grown and traditionally-grown types produce?
There are no significant differences between the nutrition content of lettuce grown through hydroponics methods versus more traditional methods, although there have been a few studies that suggested hydroponic lettuce could be slightly more nutritious.3
Will Freedom Foods still grow other types of produce?
Yes, hydroponics is only a subset of our business and most of the lettuce produced this way will go towards more commercial markets. We will continue to do our regular individual box sales, summer field crops, and traditional natural winter greenhouse produce. (See our last post for an update on our winter crops!)
Are hydroponic methods considered natural?
Unfortunately, hydroponically grown products are cannot be certified natural because the natural philosophy places a great emphasis on soil management (and hydroponics is a largely soil-less growing method). However, its products are still natural-friendly when the right inputs are used. Here at Freedom Foods, we use sustainable, natural practices such as never applying conventional pesticides and always using natural fertilizer on all of our produce.
That said, however, our hydroponically-grown produce will always be clearly labeled as such. We are sensitive to our customers’ individual preferences and will always be happy to make sure you get the type of produce that you prefer—whether it is traditionally-grown natural or sustainable hydroponically-grown produce.
Still curious? Feel free to contact us and we are more than happy to share more information about our latest adventure!
1, 3. http://osufacts.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-6839/HLA-6442web.pdf