Food is one of the last topics we tend to consider when addressing climate change, yet it should be one of the first. As we kick off Climate Week NYC, we take a deep dive into the environmental and societal toll of our industrial food system, starting with the salad bowl.
Did you know that 70% of our freshwater goes to agriculture, and 70% of our fresh water contamination comes from agriculture? With freshwater reserves around the world declining year after year, and the global population rapidly on the rise, if we want to ensure a clean, safe, and sustainable water supply, we need to look at how we grow our food, and do so using a lot less freshwater, land and agrichemicals. Since leafy greens are mostly water by weight, that’s a great place to start.
Two-thirds of the salad greens in America travel thousands of miles from the Salinas Valley in California, Yuma, Arizona, or Mexico. In fact, Salinas is often labeled the “Salad Bowl of America” — and if you’re eating one on your lunch-break right now, that’s more than likely where your lettuce came from. Recent droughts have caused agricultural operations to tap new sources for irrigation water — taxing natural reserves and changing the water table of the area, possibly forever. 20 percent of the wells in Salinas have dangerous levels of nitrates from pesticide runoff, presenting both public health and food safety risks.
By the time the salad greens get to our bowls, they will have traveled thousands of miles and passed many hands and touchpoints including multiple storage and distribution facilities, processors, and trucks, making it very difficult to trace where exactly they came from and how they were handled along the way. Not only does this result in harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but the current leafy greens supply chain also leaves a lot of room for possible contamination with harmful pathogens that cause foodborne illness, and results in many of the recalls you may have heard about for romaine lettuce, spinach and more.
And then there’s the big elephant in the room: food waste – according to the USDA, up to 76% of all leafy greens are wasted from seed to plate, resulting in huge amounts of harmful carbon and methane emissions as food waste decomposes in a landfill.
If we want to live on a healthy and thriving planet, we need to drastically rethink how we grow and transport food and drastically lower food’s environmental footprint.
A New Kind of Sustainable Farm
As a mission-driven Certified B Corporation, we believe that our food should be safe and healthy for our bodies and our planet.
We have developed proprietary farming technology to grow indoors in a fully controlled environment. We use patented aeroponic technology to mist the roots of leafy greens with water and nutrients in a closed-loop system, recycling water and nutrients with virtually zero waste. That means no soil contamination, no toxic runoff, and no good contamination – so what you can feel confident about what you put in your salad bowl is better for you and better for the planet.
Additionally, our indoor farms are setting new standards for traceability & food safety in agriculture overall. Our robust food safety program & technology-enabled process means that every bite can be traced back to the exact square foot where it was grown in an unprecedented way.
Our global headquarters are in Newark NJ and we are proud to be redefining the Garden State. You can enjoy our retail brand – Dream Greens by AeroFarms – throughout the major NJ/NY metro area at major retailers like ShopRite, Whole Foods, FreshDirect, and Amazon Fresh. Vote with your fork on making an impact on Climate Week every week.
The unique way we grow gives us the ability to perfect taste, texture, quality, and even nutritional density. Here are some of the ways we celebrate Climate Week every week:
- Local Growing All Year Round – We grow greens in the city, bringing new life to old buildings. Urban growth means fewer miles traveled, fewer carbon emissions, better nutrition, and fresher taste.
- Amazing Flavor – We cultivate the most flavorful varieties of each green we grow and then elevate them by using special recipes of light, nutrients, and a lot of love!
- Pesticide-Free – We champion ways of growing that minimize & eliminate the use of pesticides commonly used in farming.
- Our greens are clean & ready to eat, so there’s no washing necessary.
- 95% Less Water – Water is our most precious resource, so we grow using 95% less water than in the field. No runoff and no excessive water use means a healthier planet for all.
- Doing More with Less – The unique way we grow results in 390X more productivity per square foot compared to field farming, using a fraction of the fertilizer, no harmful pesticides, and 95% less water.
- Safe and Fully Transparent – Our mission is to connect our local farms to your fork. Every bite can be traced back to the exact square foot where it was grown, setting a new standard for food safety.
- Community-Focused – We support the communities in which we grow in every way we can. We hire locally, pay fair wages, and work with schools to connect kids to what’s on their plate.
- Reduce and Eliminate Food Waste – Over 50% of produce in the USA goes to waste. Not these local greens! Ours are tended with tons of care, so you can enjoy fresher, more flavorful baby greens even longer.
Here are some tips to create a sustainable salad:
- Start with locally grown, pesticide-free greens from a sustainable farm (like Dream Greens by AeroFarms) for the freshest salad base with the least transportation/miles traveled.
- Add seasonal toppings and fruits/veggies – look for the #JerseyFresh certification to see what is in season right here in New Jersey.
- Top with plant-based protein like chickpeas, beans, or seeds, and you’ve got a sustainable salad to celebrate #ClimateWeekNYC, every week.