As an organic store owner, I am often asked to share my thoughts on water based farming methods, which are quite the rage today. So here are the two cents on my opinion vs. my choice.
Off the bat, I think chemically-free, water-based methods produce safer food than farming methods that rely heavily on pesticides. The capital required for both Aquaponics and Hydroponics can be quite high, but their produce tends to be a lot more consistent. Compared to Hydroponics, the water recycling process of Aquaponics, makes it admittedly, a safer and more viable method to grow food for large scale consumption consistently.
Then why we, at SAGE, draw the line on the ground for all to see. Despite all its advantages, the one element that water based farming doesn’t rely on…is NATURE. If you ask me, for better or for worse, it’s the inconsistencies that nature creates that makes not only food but our lives more interesting.
The fact that water-based methods allow strawberries to grow in Hyderabad, just as well in July as in December, doesn’t sit well with me. I strongly believe, that the food crisis that we see today, is directly the result of our “instant gratification” needs and the want to have the same thing in the same shape ALL the time. So a process that feeds into the same need rather than helps adjust the attitude towards food, in my mind, is not ideal in the very long run.
But when all is said and done, what gets me excited about natural farming is the magic in nature’s produce, which just CANNOT be re-engineered. Unlike water based farming, you can’t control all the inputs in natural farming. No nutrient composition can impact the flavour of the produce the way the combination of sun, soil and water can. We feed and nurture the soil but what it will result in, is as good your guess as it is mine.
Below are two examples of how nature can produce miracles.
This beetroot stump was a result of some seeds gone astray. Weighing nearly 10 kilos, the fruit itself was extremely inedible, but it continued to grow beautiful greens to add to our salads at SAGE FARM CAFÉ.
Or let’s take the example of the Arugula (Rocket) that grows on Baby Elephant Farm. In a season where our spinach got washed out, this non-native seed thrived, dug itself into the ground and said, “I am in Hyderabad…so why not turn the heat up a notch”. It changed its form and its flavour. Unlike its skinny and longer relative grown in the western world, this little guy is plumper, bolder and spicier than any Arugula you would have tasted.
To me that is simply the difference between store bought bread which is consistent and reliable vs. handmade bread which feeds on its environment, is often inconsistent but contains unparalleled flavour. It’s a personal choice, and although it sometimes drives me crazy…for now….I am also digging my feet firmly into the ground.