The Future of Food: Indoor Agriculture

Anya Aggarwal

Posted on Monday 8th July 2019

The amount of people facing chronic food insecurity is estimated to be about 821 million (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion people in a mere 30 years (USDA). Effects of climate change due to carbon emissions and unsustainable energy practices are an imminent threat. The United States uses 25% of the world’s energy with less than 5% of the world’s population, and has the second highest carbon footprint (UCSUSA). The people of the world must take action to combat these detriments, but how? 

One of the hottest new trends in addressing issues of food security, population growth, and environmental sustainability is through indoor agriculture. Indoor agriculture employs various technologies including hydroponics, aeroponics, and LED Grow Lights combined with a vertical farming model to provide intuitive and sustainable farming methods. The technologies surrounding this practice have the capability to mitigate many imminent global concerns.

Indoor agriculture is a major player in ensuring widespread food security, something of great concern in places where a majority of the population lies below the poverty line. Food security refers to the availability of food and a person’s access to it on a daily basis. Impoverished areas including inner cities, countries in Africa, and other such places are faced with critically low food security that causes great strain on their physical and mental health. The use of LED Grow Lights in indoor agriculture produce much higher crop yields and “create optimum growing conditions for farmers to grow a crop from the seed to its harvesting stages in lesser time” according to Future Farming. Case studies by Independence LED, one of the leading distributors in LED Grow Lights, have shown that greens produced through indoor farming with the LED technology have significantly greater amounts of foliage and last for over a month after harvest, as compared to the highly perishable outdoor-farmed greens. Additionally, since indoor agriculture allows the grower to control the climate in the greenhouse, food can be grown year-round and in almost any location, making food more accessible in even the most remote places. The levels of sustainability and efficiency that result from indoor agriculture work to increase both the availability and accessibility of food, effectively promoting higher worldwide food security.

In the next 30 years, the world’s population is predicted to grow by at least 2 billion people, if not more. That not only means more people taking up more space, but also indicates an increase in food demand. Some sources say that the demand for food may increase by up to 70%. The USDA also expects two out of three people to live in urban areas by that time. In a world where conventional agriculture already does not satisfy the population’s needs, the predicted rapid increase cannot be contained without new technology and agricultural methods. Indoor agriculture using LED Grow Lights and vertical farming is a promising solution to the impending increase in food demand and urbanization because it allows for food and greens to be produced close to urban areas as it does not require perfect natural conditions. Rather, it uses environmentally-friendly technology to simulate good growth conditions. According to the USDA, indoor agriculture works effectively by

reducing distribution chains to offer lower emissions, providing higher-nutrient produce, and drastically reducing water usage and runoff

making it one of the most efficient, sustainable, and popular new agricultural markets. As more and more farmers turn to indoor agriculture, the practice promotes job creation, environmental stewardship, and economic growth.

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