My tomatoes are travel weary. By the time they reach the salad bowl, they are hundreds of miles away from their original homes. Moved in trucks, jostled by countless hands, these little fellows have seen their fair share of highways and packaging plants. Yet, what if there was a way to cut down on the amazing amount of fuel required to haul my salad fixings and the resources used to package them? A compromise between the farmers market and large grocery store?
Brightfarms is a company that designs, finances and builds hydroponic greenhouses on the roofs of supermarkets in the effort to reduce shipping and transportation costs and the pollution inherent to moving items along the supply chain. With investments from such notable Silicon Valley tech moguls as Ali Partovi, Brightfarms has already signed up with eight chains across the country. Soon, instead of eating lettuce from thousands of miles away, shoppers will be able to pick up veggies in the produce aisle that have traveled only a few hundred feet.
Not only do consumers and the environment benefit from Brightfarm’s greenhouse model, but retailers do as well. By cutting out the middleman, store owners can see higher profit margins by being able to keep fresh produce on the shelves longer. Risk of damaged goods is reduced with shorter and more gentle deliveries and shorter warehouse storage time. The owner is able to ensure a more stable price that free from volatile market fluctuations and can confidently advertise the freshness of fruits and vegetables grown on site.
For neighborhoods situated in the middle of “food deserts”, or areas unable to easily access healthy food, greenhouses atop or near markets might be a great way to help provide fresh produce at a low price and aid in the fight against obesity, heart disease and malnutrition.
Could your local supermarket be improved by adding a greenhouse?