According to studies published by the University of London and King’s College, much of the minerals in our fruits and vegetables has been degraded over time. Between 1940 and 1991, our veggies lost 49% of its sodium content, 46% of calcium, 59% of zinc and so on. About 70% of our topsoil is degraded to the point where there’s barely any nutritional content for plants to draw from.
All of this results in poor nutrition for consumers, even people who generally think of themselves as healthy people. Even if they eat enough fruits and vegetables, the fact is that those veggies just don’t contain the same nutrients that nature intended. Eating organic helps, but is still far from a complete solution.
Why Farmed Produce is Poor in Nutrition
With traditionally grown produce, including organic produce, plants are forced to try and extract minerals from the ground. After a couple hundred years of planting, growing and harvesting, much of the minerals have been leeched out of the ground.
In response, farms have used fertilizers to “re-mineralize” their soil for the next planting season. Unfortunately, this is just a Band-Aid solution. Plants need about 45 different minerals to grow and thrive. Fertilizers only provide 8 of these minerals.
Why doesn’t the agricultural industry add all 45 nutrients to their plants? It’s simple: it would cost a lot more money. And most consumers (even organic consumers) aren’t asking about soil nutrients. So, they get away with just planting enough minerals to make the plants look and taste ripe. These 8 added minerals allow plants to grow and look healthy, but they’re still severely lacking in true nutritional content.
That’s where hydroponic farming comes in.
Hydroponic Farming: Nutrient and Vitamin Rich Produce
Hydroponic farming uses a nutrient solution that’s specifically tailored to the plants you’re planting. The nutrient solution has everything the plant needs to thrive. Instead of forcing the plant to stretch deep roots to search out these nutrients, they’re readily available.
This results in nutrient-rich plants that taste fantastic. Studies have shown that hydroponic plants can have as much as 50% more nutrients than traditional crops, especially with Vitamin A, C and E and the B-complexes. *
Hydroponic plants are also not subject to the whims of nature. With traditional plants, the taste and nutrition of the plants can vary a great deal. Stormy weather versus sunny weather can make a big difference. The amount of bugs (and the amount of pesticides) can also vary by season. With hydroponics, all of that can be controlled or prevented.
Best of all? All of this is highly affordable. Because you’re cutting out the cost of hiring farmers, transporting produce, the grocery store’s profit margins, etc., you dramatically cut down on the cost of food. So you get higher quality nutrition, even while paying less.
If you are interested in starting a small hydroponic garden, here’s a DIY guide to creating a lettuce raft which can support lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard.
* Howard Resh, 2003, Hobby Hydroponics
About the Author: Chris Wimmer is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and extend the short Chicago growing season. Chris blogs about his hydroponic experiences at CaptainHydroponics.com and is on facebook.