Nate: Hi, this is Nate Storey with Bright
Agrotech. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about whether or not conventional hydroponic
solutions are safe. As many of you guys know, we have both organic and conventional farms.
We’re growing organically with our aquaponic production in this greenhouse here. We’ve
got also a conventional farm down in Colorado where we’re growing with hydroponic solutions.
The question arises a lot, and a lot of people ask us this question because they know we’ve
got our hands in both parts of the industry: Are conventional hydroponic solution is safe.
A lot of people will say, well you’re growing with chemicals. That’ can’t be safe. I always
have to talk with folks and make sure that they understand that yes, we are using chemicals,
but we’re also using these chemicals in our organic systems. The question is not the chemicals
being used because the plants absorb certain nutrients in certain chemical forms. That’s
just how plants work. They take nitrate whether it’s synthetic. They take nitrate whether
it’s mined. They take nitrate whether it comes from the decomposition of proteins and the
oxidation of ammonia in our aquaponics system. It’s all the same thing.
The reality is yes, we’re using chemicals, but we’re always using chemicals even in our
organic systems. The real question here is source. What is the source of these chemicals,
and how comfortable are we with this source? A lot of the folks that purchase organic,
including a lot of our customers, we eat mostly our organic produce because we’re up here
in Laramie and this is where our farm is. When we’re down in Colorado, we’re eating
a lot of our conventional produce. The reality is that it tastes very similar. Oftentimes,
believe it or not, the conventional stuff is a little bit more nutritionally balanced
simply because the plants have all the nutrition they need.
At the end of the day, I feed my family both things. I know that both things are very safe.
I know that both things are grown by me, are grown by my people. I’m very comfortable feeding
both conventional and organic hydroponic produce to my family, to my child to my wife. At the
end of the day, nitrate is nitrate. There’s no difference between nitrate that we get
through synthetic processes and nitrate that we get through organic processes. That’s always
the big question. Whether you buy organic or whether you buy conventional, probably
the more important question to ask is what is the pesticide exposure from eating this
product, and was it grown sustainably, and was it grown locally?
At the end of the day, for me nutrients are not the big question. Nutrient sources are
even not the question. A lot of conventional nutrients are actually produced more sustainably
than some organic nutrients. We want to be thinking about our organic nutrients in the
same way that we think about oil, as the same that we think about a lot of our other finite
resources. Really, what I’m saying is this is way too big of an issue to really get into
in a single five- to seven-minute YouTube video. You as a consumer need to do your due
diligence. You need to do a little research. You need to understand that even in organic
systems, a lot of the time we’re mining rock phosphate. We’re mining guano, Chilean nitrate,
you name it. There’s all of these different forms of these
same chemicals that are used in organic systems, that are mined, that come from natural sources,
that are currently being harvested unsustainably. As a grower, I have to think very carefully,
not just about the safety and the quality of my product and what my customers want,
but also where I’m sourcing a lot of my nutrients from. There’s a great argument to be made
for conventional over organic in some areas. There’s a great argument to be made for organic
over conventional in some situations. Keep that in mind, and understand that nothing
is as clear-cut as it seems. When it comes to nutrients, there is a very great middle
road for both organic and conventional producers. As far as your health is concerned, you have
nothing to worry about. We’ve been eating conventional hydroponic produce for a very
long time, and it is pretty darn safe, especially the way it’s being practiced now. Thanks so
much for watching. If you find this information useful, check out the Vertical Food Blog.
We’ll go into a little bit more detail on the subject over there. At the end of the
day, our goal is to just give you good, fair-balanced information from a guy that farms both organically
and using conventional solutions in hydroponic systems.