Commercial HydroponicsWith the first successful application of hydroponics techniques in the 1930s the stage was set for a paradigm shift in crop production from conventional geoponics or cultivation in soil to hydroponics or soil less cultivation. The first crops to be commercially harvested with hydroponics included tomatoes and peppers, but the techniques were soon successfully extended to other crops such as lettuce, cucumbers and others. It was not long before hydroponics techniques were successfully adapted even to cut flowers production; in fact any plant can today be grown hyrdroponically.Commercial Systems OverviewCommercial hydroponics systems can be classified into bare root systems comprising nutrient film technique (NFT), deep flow and aeroponics systems and substrate systems.Bare root systems do not use media to anchor the plant roots; the roots are left bare while in substrate systems plant roots are anchored in media such as perlite, vermiculite, sawdust, peat etc. Hydroponics is basically all about growing plants in a controlled environment and this is best provided outdoors in greenhouses that can incorporate several means to monitor, regulate and control the environment inside them. For instance, the air entering the greenhouse can be filtered to exclude entry to pests and parasites that can harm plant growth. Such means help provide optimal conditions for plant growth both in and out of season. In fact, hydroponics allows cultivation throughout the year which makes for year round availability of hydroponically grown produce at all major supermarkets across North America. Valued at 2.4 billion dollars the hydroponic greenhouse vegetable industry has a growth rate of 10 percent per year and accounts for nearly 95 percent of the greenhouse vegetables produced in North America.Hydroponics AdvantagesThe extension of the growing season is not the only advantage contributing to the growing popularity of hydroponics production with both growers and consumers. There are several additional advantages as well including nutritious, healthy and clean produce, improved and consistent vegetable quality and elimination of the use of pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional agriculture have an adverse environmental impact; the run off from these chemicals contaminate groundwater supplies. Commercial hydroponics systems eliminate these toxic chemicals and contribute substantially to keeping the groundwater free from contamination.Yields Commercial hydroponics systems have proved more productive than conventional systems of agriculture not only in the laboratory but even in actual practice. Most commercial hydroponics greenhouse facilities are built large to take advantage of economies of scale; typically these cover areas more than 10 acres while smaller ones measure around two acres. In the research greenhouse, yields with hydroponics techniques have averaged around 20 to 25% higher than in conventional soil cultivation. In actual commercial practice, however, over a number of years, the yield of hydroponically grown tomatoes can be more than double that of soil based systems due to the reduced turnover time between crops, better nutrition and crop management. Additionally commercial hydroponics growing techniques are also less demanding of chemicals for root zone sterilization and control of pests, weeds etc.The dramatic increase in yields with hydroponics is best illustrated if we consider the actual production figures of soil grown and hydroponically grown produce. Field grown tomatoes average yields ranging between 40,000 to 60, 000 pounds per acre; on the other hand top growing hydroponics facilities in the US and Canada report average yields of more than 650,000 pounds of tomatoes per acre. Additionally, given the fact that only 10 years ago top hydroponics producers were producing around 400,000 pounds per acre, the increase in yields with improvements in growing practices has been truly phenomenal. Similar production figures can be quoted for other agricultural produce like cucumbers with 10,000 pounds per acre for field production and 200,000 per acre for hydroponic greenhouse yields. Hydroponics lettuce and pepper yields too average around four times the corresponding yields of agricultural production.Global TrendsGiven the number of advantages of hydroponics it is not surprising that hydroponics techniques are increasingly finding favor for commercial food production in many countries all over the world. According to recent estimates countries having substantial commercial hydroponics production include Israel – 30,000 acres, Holland 10,000 acres, England 4,200 acres and Australia and New Zealand around 8,000 acres between them. The fastest growing area for commercial vegetable greenhouses is Mexico. There are several reasons for this including free trade and favorable winter conditions that attract vegetable growers in large numbers. Mexico has summers that are considered hot in the summer, but with greenhouses located at the right altitudes vegetables can be grown in the hot summers as well as the cold winters. Though much of the produce comes from low tech plastic houses, many of these greenhouses use hydroponics technology, which indicates the growing popularity of hydroponics in commercial food production.
If you feel exhausted easily in spite of the fact that you sleep for eight or nine hours and if your face looks pale and dull, there is possibility that you may suffer from chronic anemia. Anemia is caused when the hemoglobin level of your body decreases below the normal level and when the total number of red blood cells seems to be quite low. If you suffer from this type of disease, it is advisable that you should eat healthy and fresh food products on a regular basis. Here are a few important food products that are recommended for people who suffer from this type of disease.SpinachThis type of item contains good amount of vitamin A, C, E and B9 and other essential nutrients such as beta carotene, fiber and iron. If you eat a half cup of spinach, then there is possibility that you can consume more than three milligrams of iron daily and it also accounts for nearly twenty percent of the total requirement of iron in a human body. If you eat spinach on a daily basis, there is every possibility that you can increase the total amount of blood in your own body.BeetrootBeetroot contains high amount of iron and it also helps you to repair as well as restore the total amount of red blood cells in your body. Once the red blood cells are activated, there is every possibility that the oxygen supply of your body also increases to a great extent. If you consume adequate amount of beetroot on a regular basis, then you will able to fight this type of disease in the best possible way. You can either consume it along with other vegetable such as tomatoes, carrots or you can crush two or three beetroots in a mixer to prepare delicious beetroot juice. If you eat beetroot with other vegetables or if you drink beetroot juice, there is possibility that you will increase the total count of red blood cells and you can fight this type of disease in the best possible way.PomegranatesThey contain adequate amount of iron, vitamin C and other essential ingredients and they improve the flow of blood in your own body in the best possible way. Plus, they are used to treat different symptoms of anemia, such as exhaustion, weakness and dizziness. You can eat two or three raw pomegranates or you can prepare a delicious juice from pomegranates to drink it regularly during your breakfast.EggsThey contain adequate amount of protein ingredients and they also constitute a lot of essential antioxidants that help in accumulation of essential vitamins in your body at times when you suffer from this type of disease. It is important to remember that a large sized egg contains one milligram of iron and it helps you to fight anemia in the best possible way.TomatoesThey contain adequate amount of vitamin C and other important ingredients such as Vitamin E, beta carotene and vitamin E. You can either eat two or three raw tomatoes on a daily basis or you can prepare one glass of tomato juice to drink it during your breakfast.
When it comes to organic food versus non-organic food, one of the most important questions that most diet-enthusiasts and food curious people want to ask is how to tell the difference. In other words, how to identify or differentiate organic food from the conventional food?Frankly and honestly speaking, there’s really no way to tell the difference between organic food and the conventional food we are forced to rely on the people selling us the food to be truthful. Luckily for us however, there is hope in the form of labelling which tells us which foods are organic and which foods aren’t. In the USA, the USDA requires farms which are organic to follow a strict set of guidelines to be certified as organic.Over and above this legislation, there are private organic farmers associations which have their own brand of certification as well. And the common factor among all of these is the fact that besides the certification, they also have seals with which they stamp foods and food products.Labelling & ingredients profileWhen it comes to the identification of organic food versus non-organic food, one of the easiest methods is of “labelling” or ingredients’ profile. So, if you don’t feel too comfortable about going over to your nearest farmers market to get your organic produce, you can always check out the labels in your grocery store. If any of the foods deemed organic in the store carry one of the many organic certified seals and labels you can be assured that it has been organically produced. The one thing that you might want to look out for, however, is exactly what the labels say. As ever, although there is certification and labelling stating that the food you buy is organic, there are different levels of organic. This is the case not for the fruits and the vegetables which you buy fresh from the store, but the case for the many processed and pre-packaged organic foods which tend to have more than one ingredient.Therefore, although you might believe product you’re getting is fully 100% organic guaranteed, you might want to check again on what the label says to get the real story. If you take packaged organic foods, the labelling would consist of not only the seal stating that it is made from organic produce but also a few key words which will tell you exactly how much organic foods are in the package, if only you know how to understand what they are telling you.For instance labelling for organic foods could go something along the lines of:• 100% Organic – this food definitely has only 100% of organic foods• Organic – this food contains over 95% of organic products.• Made with organic products – this product contains at least a minimum of 70% of organic products (no seal is allowed on these types of food products)• And when you go below the 70% mark of included-organic products for any packaged foods, you definitely not find either labelling or a seal stating that the food you’re buying is organic.However, if there are organic products contained within this food product, it may be listed in the ingredients section as such, or even listed separately on a side panelling. To be completely safe in the knowledge that what you’re buying is the genuine article you need to look for not only the seal which states the product to be organic, but also the labelling which will tell you exactly how much of the food is actually organic. Types of labellingAnother thing that you will want to look out for is other types of labelling which might lead you to believe that what you’re buying is organically grown food. Most of these labels are there not to tell you that what you’re getting is organic, but that what you’re getting is “natural” or a “health food” or something along those lines. Remember, it doesn’t have to be organically produced to be termed natural or healthy or anything else along those lines. “Organic” is more a state of how the food was produced than whether or not it is completely “natural” or “healthy” or not.These foods can contain organic foods, but unless they have more than 70% of organic foods contained within the end product, they cannot lay claim to being organic.Finally, considering the identification of organic food versus non-organic food, another point that you might want to be aware of is that not all products within the category of 100% Organic, or Organic (the two levels of organic food able to use the organic certified USDA seal), are required by law to have the USDA seal on their food products. It is entirely voluntary. So you might not want to go by seal certification alone to determine whether the 100% organic certified food you have in your hand really contains 100% organically produced foods. Check the rest of the packaging as well for more information regards the true state of being.