Don't eat that, you don't know where it's been!
The above is probably a statement we associate with parents scolding young children, but can we speak any differently about the food we buy at the grocery store? Where is that avocado from, or that bag of spinach? That bunch of bananas? What did it go through to get to your kitchen? If it's part of the conventional food supply chain, you can bet the answer is a whole heck of a lot.
Here at Copiana, we're looking to remake the food supply model in favor of local, seasonal, year-round produce at its nutritional peak. Here's why that's so radical.
The Conventional Food Supply Chain
The food you buy on from your nearest grocery store might have more stamps on its passport than you do! According to a 2019 FDA article, 32 percent of fresh vegetables and 55 percent of fresh fruit consumed annually in America is imported from overseas. It's an oft-quoted, though oversimplified, statistic that domestic produce travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach US grocery stores.
The issue with fresh produce traveling that far before it makes it to your table, other than the tremendous amount of fuel consumed, is that it often has to be harvested well before peak ripeness. Some fruits and veggies will continue to ripen after harvesting, but they are no longer absorbing nutrients, as they would if still attached to their parent plant. Produce also begins to lose nutritional value after being harvested, so the further that kale has to travel, the less likely it is to still be a "superfood."
And this is still just a fraction of the travel processed products undergo. Sugar packets in Hawaii, one of the U.S.'s leading producers of sugarcane, have to travel around 10,000 miles to get from cane to packet. We didn't realize just how fragile and spread-out a supply system this was until March of this year.
The Pandemic and our Produce
When we first heard of the coronavirus hitting China, it seemed like science fiction to talk of people panic-buying groceries, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. Food shortages were not something many people thought possible for America—until they began happening all over the country. The problem? Too much dependence on foreign imports and not enough support for small-scale, domestic farmers.
As our international suppliers closed their ports, we had to rely more and more on American food production and distribution, which was slowed down dramatically by greater precautions at every stage. When you look at the increase in consumer demand due to closed or limited restaurants and an increased emphasis on health, we were—and still are—facing a food supply crisis.
The solution? Supporting local agriculture in our communities. We need to rely more on food that comes across town, rather than across the world. Local farms are often viewed as supplemental, an add-on to conventional food production. To stabilize our food supply, we need to flip that paradigm. If we rely mainly on local produce, and supplement that with the occasional trip to the grocery store, we are much less likely to encounter the bare shelves we saw across the country in March.
Having one of Copiana's state-of-the-art aeroponic produce towers on your property is a game-changer. We reduce the supply chain to its most essential: straight off the plant to your table. Aeroponics allow us to grow incredibly nutritious, delicious produce year-round indoors, produce that is ripe and ready to eat the moment it is harvested.
Our clients love having our towers as part of their space. The towers bring life to your lobby or common space—people love watching "their" plants grow! And when it's time to harvest, your community sees (and tastes) first-hand the benefits of local produce. Leasing a Copiana tower is the easiest, most directly impactful way to bring fresh, local produce to your community—and our team takes care of all the maintenance and harvesting. Getting nutritious greens into your diet has never been easier or more fun!
Rethinking Food Production and Transport
The key to a long-lasting and stable food supply chain is reducing the number of steps between the farm where your produce is grown and your kitchen table. Eating local is better for you, the environment, your local economy, and your wallet. Strengthening local agriculture production protects our communities from food shortage and contamination, and the less food has to travel, the fresher and more nutritious it is.
So how can you start eating more locally? Check out your local farmer's market, sign up for a CSA or local produce box, and look into leasing a Copiana tower for your community. It's the gift that keeps on giving!