Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hydroponic lettuce offers a taste of 'green' food

Video via Quad Talk 

Much of the lettuce sold in the eastern United States comes from California and Arizona. Emory students, however, are getting treated to fresh, campus-grown salads through a hydroponic system developed by Alex Boettcher and Jai Seth, both undergraduates majoring in economics and minoring in sustainability.

Their hydroponic system is currently growing about 50 heads of lettuce in 15-square-feet of the Dobbs University Center (DUC).

California lettuce “has to travel 3,000 miles to get here so it’s about 8 to 10 days before it’s served onto our plates,” Boettcher says. “It’s constantly losing nutrients, plus it takes massive amounts of fossil fuels to get it here.”

Conventional farming needs about three months to produce a crop of lettuce “but here we grow it in about six weeks,” Seth adds. “And because we’re growing it indoors we can have eight different crops cycles as compared to three or four crop cycles at a conventional farm.”

The students aim to promote sustainable, local food and good nutrition through the hydroponic project, which was supported by the Center for the Study of Human Health, the Foundations of Sustainability class and Food Services.

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