The USDA estimated that in 2010, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices. The calories associated with food loss are estimated at 141 trillion, or 1,249 calories per person per day.
There’s a good chance if we grow our own local food that we will waste less food. Unlike traditional soil agriculture, aquaponics can produce significant quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish in urban environments, allowing us city dwellers meaningful access to local food. You know what they say, “the shorter the supply-chain, the less room for food waste”!
buzzwords become buzzwords for a reason….
sus-tain-a-ble: 1) able to be maintained at a certain rate or level; or 2) able to be upheld or defended.
Here is an excerpt from a magical book, “The Third Plate; Field Notes on the Future of Food” by Dan Barber. He notes:
“…mounting evidence that our countries indomitable and abundant food system, for so long the envy of the world, is unstable, if not broken. Eroding soils, falling water tables for irrigation, collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, and deteriorating grasslands represent only a handful of the environmental problems wrought by our food system – problems that will continue to multiply with rising temperatures.”
“Our health has suffered, too. Rising rates of food-borne illnesses, malnutrition, and diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes are traced, at least in part, to our mass production of food. The warnings are clear: because we eat in a way that undermines health and abuses natural resources (to say nothing of the economic and social implications), the conventional food system cannot be sustained.”
This is good definition of the “food system”, adapted from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food. (sounds fancy). Basically the food system is everything you can possibly think of that has to do with putting food on your plate. The food system is:
- all those activities involving the production, processing, transport, consumption, and cleanup of food;
- the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, and how food production affects the natural environment;
- how food affects health and well-being, including nutrition, obesity and food safety;
- food access, quality, and education in areas with poverty; and
- the history, cultural, and social aspect of food.
Why is this important? Stay tuned……..
Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States. (USDA)
Aquaponics uses less than 10% of water compared to conventional agriculture, depending on the climatic conditions. Aquaponics can grow in locations with drought, poor soil quality, or challenging climates. (Goddek et al, 2015)
Aquaponics is most appropriate where land is expensive, water is scarce, and soil is poor. Deserts and arid areas, sandy islands and urban gardens are the locations most appropriate for aquaponics because it uses an absolute minimum of water. There is no need for soil, and aquaponics avoids the issues associated with soil compaction, salinization, pollution, disease and tiredness. Similarly, aquaponics can be used in urban and peri-urban environments where no or very little land is available, providing a means to grow dense crops on small balconies, patios, indoors or on rooftops. (Somerville et al, 2014)
Is it time for aquaponic food production in Washington, DC?