Support Recirculating Farms!

Many people all over the world are beginning to adopt new ways to grow healthy, fresh food – recirculating farms. These farms are eco-friendy: they can rely on renewable energy, like solar or wind power, reuse up to 99% of water used (check out our fact sheet on water usage), and repurpose the minimal waste generated. Additionally, recirculating farms offer locally grown foods, and can be an affordable way for people to start their own socially conscious business.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had more recirculating farms so communities everywhere could have accessible sources of sustainable local, fresh food?

So how do you help support recirculating farming?

Here are a list of some things you can do to help grow the recirculating farms community!

1) Tell everyone about recirculating farms! Maybe someone you know will start a farm that feeds their family and community. Talk to your children and their teachers. This would make for a great school project and the food can be served in their cafeteria.

2) Go to your local farmers market! Often times recirculating farmers sell their products directly to you at farmers market gatherings. Talk to the people there; ask them about how they grow food. You can help support recirculating farms by seeking out and purchasing their fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, fish and more.

3) Look for recirculating farm products at your local grocer! When you go to the grocery store, find out where the fruits, vegetables and fish came from. Many have a sticker or sign showing country or state of origin. Likely, you’ll find that much of the food is from overseas. So speak with the store manager, and ask if they can get food from a nearby recirculating farm (soon, we’ll have a map of recirculating farms around the U.S. and you’ll be able to provide information to your grocer). Also, speak with your neighbors; encourage them to look for food from a local recirculating farmer. The recirculating farms’ community is growing, and farms can be found all over the U.S. (and world).

4) Go to your favorite restaurant! Does your favorite restaurant buy food locally? Why not ask if those blueberries, green peppers, tomatoes, or herbs, etc. came from a recirculating farm? Tell the kitchen managers about recirculating farms. If buying from these farms will help their business and their community, there is a good chance they’ll be on board with sourcing their food from a nearby recirculating farm.

5) Try it yourself! There is an active and growing home gardening movement – and many people are building their own recirculating farms. Because they can be many shapes, sizes and constructed using various materials, building a recirculating home farm can be fun, inexpensive and simple.

6) Get active! Bookmark the Recirculating Farms Coalition blog and keep in the know of what’s happening in the world of recirculating farms. Get on facebook, “like” our page and follow us on Twitter! And last, but certainly not least, tell the President that we need green jobs and healthy affordable food!

 

So now that you have the knowledge, you have the power to make a difference in where the food you eat comes from! Join us!

Recirculating Farms- Helping to Provide Food for the Homeless and Hungry

Recirculating farms are a socially responsible farming method and business: they support the use of renewable energy, recycle water and waste, and provide local food, (and can do it without chemical pesticides). They also can create green jobs. This week, two articles highlight how these farms are not only increasingly supplying restaurants and grocery stores with food, but also are helping to feed the homeless, and others that don’t have access to fresh, healthy food around the world.

For those who may not be familiar with recirculating farms, check out our previous blog post on this and also read our fact sheets and reports. In a nutshell, recirculating farms are land-based farms that use clean, recycled water in place of soil to grow plants (hydroponics), fish (aquaculture) or plants and fish together (aquaponics) in a contained system. See how these farms work – check out our photo gallery and video of a farm in NY.

In an article on PRWeb, innovator Martin Wiggett, founder and president of Stealth Hydro, and his wife Julie, are using hydroponic technology to have a positive social impact and feed hungry people all over the world. They support organizations such as Hydro for Hunger and Growing Hope. The Hydro for Hunger program focuses on raising awareness about global food shortages. Growing Hope encourages communities to be self-sufficient.

As another example, Sahib Punjabi uses space behind a strip mall in Florida to grow food for his community. His aquaponic project feeds the homeless and local families nearby. Sahib uses his knowledge to help build other aquaponic facilities like his, all over the world.

These are just a few examples of how recirculating farms are changing the world. Many farmers who embrace this method of growing food are also focusing on using it to have a positive impact for people and our planet. I encourage you to learn more about recirculating farms to see how they can help you and your community – and join us in the good food revolution!

To Eat or Not To Eat A Farmed Fish – Is That The Question?

“Is this fish farmed or wild?” That is a question often posed to markets and restaurants by savvy consumers hoping to make a more informed choice about which fish to eat. But is this question still very helpful now that there are various types of fish farming?

Many folks in the U.S. have a negative feeling toward most farmed seafood. This is fairly understandable, as we regularly hear stories from around the world about millions of fish escaping from net pens into the ocean, massive amounts of chemicals and antibiotics used to disinfect fish and their cages and illnesses wiping out entire fish farms.

Globally, open water farms – those that are located in water bodies like rivers and oceans or within coastal areas – have  assorted problems, like those mentioned above, growing finfish and shrimp (farming of other shellfish is a topic for another post – stay tuned). These are some of the reasons that farmed fish often get a bad rap with consumers. But, importantly, not all fish farming is equal.

Fortunately, we can get fresh, local and affordable seafood that is also eco-friendly.

First, before talking about sustainable fish farming, I have to make a pitch for consumers to also seek out wild caught fish – there are still sustainable fisheries in the U.S. and many struggling historic fishing communities trying to make their living as they have for decades (and in some instances, centuries) bringing people fresh, local fish (for a list of seafood recommendations and good questions to ask about seafood generally – see Food and Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guide).

Of course, with an ever-increasing population and seafood being so popular, our oceans aren’t able to supply all the fish we consume. Enter land-based, recirculating farms – farms that grow fish may also be called “recirculating aquaculture systems”, or “RAS”.

Recirculating farms may be indoors, like in a greenhouse or other structure, or outside, depending on the climate. Their main feature is that water is cleaned and recycled, then continuously circulated throughout the farm. These farms can be simple and inexpensive to build, and well designed farms are very energy, space and importantly, water efficient (check out our fact sheet on water usage in recirculating farms). Some farms can even re-purpose waste. This all makes it possible to locate a recirculating farm almost anywhere — in particular in the communities that will use the products, providing truly local food. When communities grow their own food, the amount of fuel used to transport food can be greatly reduced — a major plus given current concerns with carbon emissions and global warming.

Also, most recirculating farms are almost entirely closed-loop; it’s not easy for parasites and diseases to get in. So, the farms can run without antibiotics or other drugs and chemicals, providing a more natural product for consumers. Additionally, because the farms are mostly self-contained, they can grow a wide range of products without worrying about them “escaping” into the wild. This means recirculating farms can grow fish to supplement wild caught fish, rather than competing with fishing communities that make a living selling popular local fish.

Today, recirculating farms are increasingly bringing us fresh, sustainable seafood. These farms grow an array of fish like trout, tilapia, sea bass, barramundi, shrimp and a variety of other shellfish in tanks on-land. Some of these systems grow plants too, and in addition to fish, the farms provide vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and more. Interested in seeing how they work? Check out our pix or watch a video. And click here to learn more.

So rather than just ask whether a fish is farmed or wild, asking HOW a fish was farmed could provide the critical piece of information on which to base the to-eat–or-not-to-eat decision.

Looking for fish from recirculating farms? Coming soon, our farm map! Do you know about a recirculating farm near you? Please let us know so we can add them to our map. THANKS!