Tag Archive for sustainable

#1113 Lettuce in LED-lit tiers; food factory of the future grows in Japan today

The future is today; lettuce factory in Japan; photo from video below

The future is today; lettuce factory in Japan; photo from video below

Food waste accounts for somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of all the food produced around the world. That is a shocking number. That means land, seed, water, storage, manufacturing and everything else that contributes to the food on our table is wasted.

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, a Sony factory abandoned in the wake of the 2011 tsunami is producing lettuce with only 3 percent waste. According to Truth Atlas (a good source of hope), one of the main reasons for that impressive percentage is water. It isn’t leaching through the soil, and it isn’t evaporating, at least not the way it would in a conventional lettuce-growing operation.

Shigeharu Shimamura, a plant physiologist, is CEO of Mirai Co. He explained that conventional farms can grow 26,000 plants on an acre of land. By stacking the plants and growing them under LED lights, the plant factory can harvest 10,000 heads a day in a much smaller space than an ordinary farm. In terms of feeding a burgeoning population, the ability to grow lettuce is a small start, but this factory is pioneering techniques that can be applied to other kinds of food plants.

Maybe it’s my age, but I have a hard time getting excited about food grown in tiers in a 2300 square metre factory. I think I’m lucky. I will go to my grave with the image of seed, soil, water and sun producing a miracle of food. Still, it appears we humans are reproducing like rabbits and using up the planet’s resources at shocking speed. A factory like this will stave off disaster while we figure out more rational ways of living in harmony with the beautiful earth.

With water and food in peril, a growing population to feed, and the future of my grandchildren at stake, I am encouraged by the creativity of people such as Shigeharu Shimamura. They are working hard to ensure a future for all of us.

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#572 They grow biodegradable plastics

Photo clip from “Captain Drew and the Mushroom Boat”, showing the buoyancy of Mushroom® Materials

Plastics have made much of what we buy, do and use affordable and, alas, expendable. As a consequence, plastic pollution is a huge and growing problem. Our landfills are clogged with Styrofoam™ and particle board. The first uses fossil fuels.…

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#567 Tasting the earth

568-Terroir  056

Until a scholarship sent me to France for a year of graduate study, I thought all cheese was orange and tasted the same. A childhood in southern Idaho did not educate my palate about the complexities of food. In Paris…

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#565 Cows power BC homes and businesses

Red Belted Galloway

The quirky name made me laugh. It also made me curious. What I learned impressed me. Cowpower is a renewable energy company that assists farms to build anaerobic digesters that convert manure and organic waste into energy. The introductory film…

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#500 Healing the planet

Turtles in Rotary Marsh

The question is simple and powerful: “What if…we change?” What if instead of telling only the stories about how we are damaging the planet, we told the stories of what we are doing to heal it? That is the premise…

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#428 Building Oases in Food Deserts

427-beets

By now nearly everyone is familiar with the term “food desert”. As corner groceries that served a neighborhood gave way to supermarkets that served whole communities, a lot of people lost easy access to fresh food. Convenience stores just aren’t…

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#414 Reusable produce bags

Mesh bags

We keep a pile of shopping bags in the car and carry others when we walk. We try to cut down on plastic bags, yet somehow we always end up with a supply of them in the basket that holds…

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#231 Grafting fruit onto city trees

#231 Grafting fruit onto city trees

A former colleague of mine still tells the story of a city official who objected to her proposal to plant fruit trees and berry bushes in public spaces. He told her, “But people will eat them.” Oh, yes, indeed they…

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#130 She Walks the Talk

Jovanka Djordjevich at the Prince George indoor farmers' market

In a cupboard in our tiny pantry/furnace room/laundry there is a stack of cloth napkins. The all-cotton ones look a bit wrinkly since ironing them would make them less green. (So, OK, I don’t like to iron, but “green” sounds…

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