Here’s some evidence that Aquaponics produce tastes better than hydroponics: “Chefs tell us that the produce that we grow is literally the best produce that they’ve ever eaten.”
“We build industrial-scale ecosystems.” So says Jason Green, CEO and co-founder of Edenworks, a Brooklyn-based urban farming startup. Unlike a typical indoor farm—a sterile environment, sometimes run by people in gloves or even by robots—Edenworks tries to build in as much life as possible.
In their new warehouse, set to open in New York City this summer, fish will grow in tanks, bacteria will turn the fish waste into a rich fertilizer, and plants will use that fertilizer to grow. “That’s the way the Earth works—we’ve just turned it into kind of like a manufacturing process, but it’s all based on ecology,” he says.
In a year, the 6,000-square-foot space will produce around 180,000 pounds of salad greens and tilapia for local grocery stores and restaurants…
…Edenworks claims to have an advantage over most of its competitors: because it uses aquaponics—combining raising fish with plants—it says the salad greens it grows actually taste better. (FarmedHere also uses aquaponics; most others use hydroponics or aeroponics to pump in a mix of nutrients separately, without using fish).
“Hydroponic produce either tastes watery or it tastes off,” says Green. “You’ll get the abundance of one flavor, like anise, rather than balanced, which is why it has a bad rep with chefs. On the other hand, our chefs tell us that the produce that we grow is literally the best produce that they’ve ever eaten.”
While a hydroponic system might have to pump in a new mix of nutrients on a regular basis, as the system becomes unbalanced, the aquaponics system is self-regulating, full of bacteria that digest waste and keep everything running. “All of that biological robustness builds balance, flavor, and nutrition,” he says.