The recent lack of lettuce in grocery stores and restaurants is a problem caused by a disease affecting lettuce crops. However, this problem is more comprehensive than lettuce and indicates a more significant issue plaguing the agricultural industry. Pesticide use has increased by 80% since 1990, according to Pesticide Atlas 2022, and this increase in pesticide use is detrimental to the environment and human health.
Pesticides are responsible for poisoning 385 million people every year. Representing a staggering number, and it should be a cause for concern for all of us as food imports come from regions with high growth rates in their use. In addition, the USDA found potentially harmful pesticides in 70% of non-organic fresh produce in the U.S. in 2021.
One potential solution to this problem is using Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), like indoor and vertical farming. These farming methods can lower the risks associated with all chemical products and weather events. According to a recent Zip Grow article, indoor farming can produce “better than organic” crops free from pesticides and soil and last for weeks instead of days.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans are also crucial for indoor farmers to have in place. These plans help farmers to identify and control pests while minimizing the use of pesticides.
Educating the end-users on the value of pesticide-free food can also be a tool for vertical farming producers to justify higher prices. By educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of pesticide-free food, vertical farmers can help to create a demand for their products.
The lack of lettuce in grocery stores and restaurants is a symptom of a more significant problem in the agricultural industry. Chemical product use is on the rise and has a detrimental effect on the environment and human health. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), like indoor and vertical farming, can solve this problem by producing pesticide-free food that is better for human health and the environment. Additionally, educating customers on the value of pesticide-free food can help to create a demand for these products.
Image provided by Zip Grow