When doing your weekly shop you may be noticing more and more vegetables that are being labeled as “hydroponically grown”, but there’s still a lot of confusion about what this actually means.
A relatively new system of growing veg, many people are unsure of their nutrition value, or if this method of farming is even healthy in the first place.
Understanding how these vegetables are grown and what they contain will help you to decide whether you want to include them in your diet, so read on to find out all you need to know about hydroponic vegetables.
How Are Hydroponic Vegetables Different?
The differences between normal veg and hydroponic veg all come down to the way they are grown.
Traditionally vegetables have been grown out of the ground. This has always been a tedious and weather-reliant process, as farmers usually have to wait until the right time of year to plant certain veg, and then they have to hope for enough rain to water the crops but not too much or they’ll drown.
Then they have to add a load of pesticides to keep away any crop-eating bugs. With so much that can go wrong, it’s a wonder we even get veg on our shelves in the first place.
Hydroponically grown veg is typically a much easier way to grow crops, though it is more high-tech. All the veg is grown inside, either in greenhouses or large tents, and instead of being planted in soil, they’re instead placed in nutrient-rich water that gives them everything they need to grow.
To replace sunlight they’re typically grown under LED lights. These kinds of crops also usually produce a bigger yield, as instead of growing everything in neat rows they’re able to be stacked on top of each other so more can fit into the tent.
Are Hydroponic Vegetables Healthy?
With all this in mind, you may have even more fears about trying hydroponic veg. But the simple answer to your question is yes, hydroponic veg is just as healthy and safe for you to eat as traditionally grown crops. In fact in most tests there was found to be little to no nutritional difference between the two.
The method of growing these vegetables doesn’t really change the nutritional value of the food. Typically the plants would obtain nutrients from the soil, but here this has simply been replaced with the solution they’re grown in, which provides the same amount of nutrients anyways.
The solution can be “enhanced” to raise a plant’s nutrient levels, by adding such minerals as calcium or magnesium, but this won’t affect you overall, they just provide your body with a bit of extra support.
The vitamin levels of the veg are not impacted by this growing method either, as plants make their own vitamins so the method of growth does not affect these levels.
All in all, hydroponic vegetables are just as nutritious as those grown by traditional farming methods.
What Are The Other Advantages Of This Farming Method?
Now that you know that there’s no real difference between hydroponic and traditionally grown vegetables, let’s take a look at some of the other advantages of this farming method.
Freed From Traditional Farming Seasons And Locations
All hydroponic veg is grown inside in climate-controlled environments with their own day and night cycles, allowing for freedom from the traditional way of growing crops with the seasons. Now summer veg like tomatoes can be grown all year round.
This freedom also allows for veg that needs hot climates to grow to be produced in colder places. Places like Alaska for example can enjoy fresh veg grown locally rather than getting it flown in from the south.
Better For The Environment
As all veg grown using this method can be produced locally, it’s thought to be much more environmentally friendly than traditional farming methods. No longer does veg need to be driven or flown across the country to reach your selves, reducing emissions and the overall carbon footprint of the farming industry.
This type of farming is also thought to be more sustainable, as the process requires less water, space, and energy.
As the crops are not grown outside, this also means that pesticides no longer need to be applied to crops to keep the bugs off. This benefits both the environment and farmers themselves, as they no longer need to come into contact with harsh chemicals.
Less Crop Loss
As everything can be grown in a controlled indoor environment, there is much less chance of losing crops as the typical ways this happens is through bad or insufficient weather, or though being destroyed by animals and bugs, meaning that there will be a lot more food to round.
Disadvantages Of Hydroponic Farming
While there are very few disadvantages to this type of farming, there are a few you should know about so you can take precautions against them.
This is the only real issue when it comes to this growing method. As they’ve been grown in a high humidity environment, the veg can be susceptible to salmonella contamination. This can cause food poisoning if ingested.
While this is unlikely to happen to be extra safe it’s best to wash your veg thoroughly before eating it. Cooking the veg properly also destroys the bacteria so it’s very unlikely that you’ll get sick from these vegetables anyways.
More Cost To Farmers
Though farmers can produce a higher number of crops through this farming method, they may also encounter more costs. This is because they have to replace the natural sunlight and rain with their own light and water systems, raising the cost of their bills.
Farmers may find that this doesn’t have a huge impact on them however as they will have more crops to sell to cover their bills.
There is absolutely no difference between traditionally grown veg and those grown in a hydroponic environment in terms of safety and nutrition, and so you have nothing to worry about if you want to give them a try.
For those who are more eco-conscience, this may be the best choice for you as this is a much more environmentally friendly method of farming.