Progressive Grocer Independent

OCT 2016

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Commonly Grown Hydroponic Edibles Tomatoes Lettuce Fresh herbs Cucumbers Peppers Strawberries 20 | Progressive Grocer Independent | Ocober 2016 Produce Departments e growing method allows retail- ers in states with lim- ited growing seasons to offer locally grown products year-round. For instance, a super- market in Kotzebue, Alaska, is now car- rying Alaska Grown certified produce from a local hydroponic greenhouse. Rouses Markets' downtown New Orleans store has an aeroponic garden on its roof called Roots on the Roof- top, where it grows a variety of herbs. Chef Louis "Jack" Treuting, culinary director for ibodaux, La.-based Rouses, first thought to use the herbs, grown in vertical aeroponic towers that use water rather than soil, for his kitchens' freshly prepared foods, but soon saw the benefit in packaging the herbs for retail sale soon after the garden opened in 2012. When McCaffrey's began inves- tigating hydroponics more than four years ago, it also was drawn to a roof- top model similar to Rouses. However, none of McCaffrey's locations were able to support a greenhouse, so the company turned instead to a location where most customers have to drive by the greenhouse to get to the store. "People drive down the road and see the greenhouse," Mi- rack says. "ey know that's where their food is coming from. People like that idea." Food Safety e hydroponic model also eliminates some of the worries consumers have about food safety. "When you move into a controlled environment where the water is controlled and where there's netting and greenhouse glazing that control the birds, mice and insects, it's structurally safer," explains Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms, a New York-based company that pro- vides and grows hydroponic produce in greenhouses. "at doesn't mean you can't have food safety problems. Of course, you always could, but a hydroponic greenhouse should be safer." e reliability of yield is often what draws retailers that are looking for local produce to hydroponics, but it isn't the only reason. "I like to start with the 'why,'" Lightfoot says. "Is [the retailer's] motivation consistent year-round sup- ply? Is it better food safety? Is it that they want local?" e answers to these questions can help find the hydroponic producer that best fits a store's needs. Economic Savings While local was the big draw for McCaffrey's, it certainly isn't the only benefit. Mirack also was drawn in by the economics and efficiencies that 'You're able to do all sorts of fabulous things growing hydroponically because you control the complete environment the plant has. You can actually grow phenomenally tasty products." —Paul Lightfoot, BrightFarms

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