Hydroponics have been around for a long time. Back when I was in college, it was thought to be the next big thing for produce with companies such as Campbell’s rolling out hydroponically grown tomatoes. But it never seems to catch on.
At a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Jacksonville, Fla., a group of organic farmers led an effort to remove the organic label from "hydroponic" greenhouse-grown vegetables that they believe is a betrayal of true organic principles.
Abby Youngblood, executive director of the National Organic Coalition, said that "we're seeing ... a lot of support for the founding principles of organic, which are really about soil health, regenerating the soil," rather than simply feeding plants the nutrients that they need.
The Board of OTA disagreed and voted 8-7 against a ban on hydroponic methods in organic farming.
And just maybe this will bring the benefits of hydroponics to the mainstream.
According to Wholesum Harvest, a hydroponic grower, there are big environmental benefits to growing vegetables indoors, with their roots in small containers. "We can grow our tomatoes organically with three to five gallons of water per pound of production, as opposed to growing tomatoes in open fields, which can use anywhere from 26 to 37 gallons of water," the company's Jessie Gunn said. “Growing crops in open fields uses more water, more land, destroys more natural habitat.” Which begs the question, what is the true essence of organic?