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WARNING Fruit & Veg!

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Over recent years hydroponics has become a new alternative to supplementing food supply across the globe. Although hydroponic methods are becoming more inventive and revolutionary within the agriculture world, unfortunately the fruit or vegetables produced, just don’t taste the same to me.When produce is grown on a commercial scale whether hydroponically organically or even conventionally it will never taste as good as your own, ask any allotment keeper. Slowly more people are recognising the benefits of growing their own foods. Not only will you know and control what is going into your soil, what your crops are being fed with and so on. But it’s also a great way to involve the family and even teach your children, on how to grow food too. They will love the miracles and magic of Mother Nature showing off her ware. Some even say that your own sweat dripping into your soil seems to make the fruits just taste that much better.

Lately the tabloids and media bombard us with stories regarding our food’s sources. People are becoming more aware of the negative health risks of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, genetic modifications (GM), medicated feeds, antibiotics or chemicals associated with conventional agriculture or food processing. So with this new found awareness regarding our food production, organically grown has not surprisingly, become the safest way to think over recent years.

Hydroponically grown produce is fine and farmers have come on leaps and bounds in such a short space of time to find better and newer ways to improve their yields and quality using naturally, organic methods. Some techniques include using bumble bees to pollinate plants and insects to devour bad insects, opposed to using synthetic pesticides. Brilliant we say! ‘So do the supermarkets have to offer in regards to organics? Well if you can afford it, then good for you. But buying organic food has become pretty expensive. We now buy and pay a premium for this luxury label 'organic'. But my point is, everything was almost all organic years ago, as pesticides and synthetic fertilisers were not used on the same scale as today. You may argue that back then, there may have been more chemicals used in farming as there were less regulations and laws. However global farming knowledge was far less back then and the chemical synthetic fertilisers were either not available or were less obtainable. Furthermore, GM produce was only recently introduced to our food cycle. So you tell me...

What really frustrates me is that 30 years ago, everyday produce was all organic. Back then, there was no such thing as an organic range. There was of course less diversity in the fruit and vegetable available and we were dictated to much more by seasonal produce, but there was one major factor that we don’t seem to have today...more TASTE!

Hydroponics is actually a fantastic concept because it helps us to utilise space and allows us to grow crops where we maybe could not have grown before. Considering the world’s ever increasing population, we should really pay homage to those industrious hydroponic farmers too. Today there are British greenhouses producing over 70 million tomatoes a year, supplying the UK staggering 10% of all our tomato requirements. That’s an amazing amount of pasta sauce.

Remember that when produce is imported, whether hydroponically or conventionally grown, including organic food, it will have surely been sprayed with chemicals like aluminium phosphide, barium carbonate during transportation to artificially maximise the lifespan of the produce. As soon as crops are harvested, they begin to lose their nutritional value. It seems it’s all about what the produce looks like these days and whether it fall between EU regulations and not if it is nutritional or has any taste. Imported fruit and veg will have lost most of its already dwindling nutrients during its voyage to the supermarket shelves. Sometimes the fruit sits in some warehouse until it reaches our shopping baskets, further decreasing in nutritional value. Lastly, overseas produce is unlikely to be packed with nutrition because it was probably picked whilst green so it could travel in good shape, but this means it never reached its nutritional peak.

So I’d strongly recommend that you start considering British local produce because it is fresher, will taste better and has a lower carbon footprint. Look for labels on packs like 'UK',' British', 'Locally grown'. Simply put, this means, your food is probably just a few days old, opposed a week for overseas. Organic is best the best choice and scientific research backs this up. The evidence shows that organically grown crops hold more nutrients, more minerals, vitamins and they are significantly richer in other natural health-boosters. Did you know that organic food may have as much as 20 percent higher nutritional content for some minerals and thirty percent more antioxidants on average? By avoiding synthetic fertilisers, organic farmers can put more stress on plants, and when plants experience stress, they protect themselves by producing phytochemicals, these are also known as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are actually amazing cancer fighting good guys.

So all in all try gardening give it a go, even hydroponics if you have no garden or space. Failing that, buy your produce regularly from local organic farmers or farmers markets. Now there are even organic farmers offering regular services online and delivered to your door, so no excuses.

The ‘eat local’ movement has picked up such pace in the last few years, that ‘locavore’ became the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year 2007. Locavore is defined as a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.