Aquaponics vs Organics: Why Aquaponics Food?
Why Aquaponics Food?
From seed to harvest, aquaponics is definitely one of the most unique farming methods. Fish provide the plants with natural and abundant nutrition for them to grow to their fullest potential. The plants, while using that nutrition for growth, clean the water for the fish. The balance between the fish and plants is essential to the success of an aquaponics farm.
One of the most important facets of aquaponics farming is taking a “nature as nature intended” approach. If you use any chemical fertilizers, hazardous pesticides, or even organic pesticides, you could negatively affect the health of fish, which in turn affects the health of the plants. Aquaponics keeps growers honest and only using inputs that are healthy for fish, healthy for food, and healthy for all of us.
Aquaponics generally uses at least 90% less water than traditional soil agriculture. The system’s water recirculates and is used repeatedly. Through recirculation, we drastically reduce how much water is needed to grow food. Agriculture as an industry uses 80% of the nation’s water – so anything we can do grow food and support producers that are water efficient will help reduce the burden agriculture has put on our water supplies.
Aquaponics producers around the country have broken records for the nutritional content of aquaponically produced food. In aquaponics, the plant roots are always in nutrient-dense water. They don’t have competition for nutrients, and they don’t have to expend energy searching in the soil for nutrients. They always have what they need to grow bigger, taste amazing, and be high in nutritional value!
Aquaponics allows growers to place their farms wherever there is demand for local food. Farms are often located in urban centers, near distributors, and near markets. Produce grown aquaponically therefor rarely travels far and always arrives shortly after it was harvested. Since it didn’t spend days or weeks traveling it arrives fresh, making it better tasting and longer lasting than the produce you’ll find at grocery stores.
Aquaponics vs. Organic?
Is aquaponics organic? Are organics the same as aquaponics? Which is better, if either at all?
We get asked these questions all the time. Below the surface of the soil or the water, the ecology is extremely similar. It’s actually what happens above the root layers that separate the two methods.
The USDA approves a number of pesticides and herbicides for use in organic agriculture. Almost all of these pesticides cannot be used in aquaponics. Not because of an industry standard or rule, but because these pesticides affect the health of the fish. Fish are a lot smaller than humans, so they are more easily affected by any contaminant that enters their bloodstream. But they are a good indicator that although we may not see instant feedback from these organic pesticides in our day to day health, over time it’s likely not good for us either.
It all comes down to trying to get to know your farmer. Learn their practices and ask them about their policies. Typically local producers try to limit pesticide use, organic additives, or otherwise because the less they use, the less they spend. Aquaponics farmers generally don’t use pesticides and will utilize beneficial insects like ladybugs, bees, and praying mantis to control pests.
Given the choice organic vs aquaponics, without knowing anything else about the farmers themselves, we suggest you go with aquaponically grown produce, as there’s significantly less chance that anything hazardous to your health was used to produce it. The fish provide a nice canary in the coal mine for healthy inputs and if they have a crop to offer, that means they have healthy fish back at the farm.
A common question about aquaponics is if the produce is as nutritious as food grown in soil. Aquaponically grown food, when grown by capable growers, allows plants to grow in an ideal environment. The roots of a plant in an aquaponics system are constantly suspended in nutrient rich water, and therefore always have what they need to grow healthy and delicious.
In fact, aquaponics producers around the world have actually set records for nutritional density in crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. Just like with the quality of the soil and the expertise of the farmer leads to nutrient dense crops from traditional farms, the expertise of the farmer and the quality of their system management leads to nutrient dense crops from aquaponics farms.
It’s time to change the way you eat.
You could be making delicious meals with fresh, local, sustainably grown food.