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Fruit (and vegetable) of the Fish Farm

© 2012 by Theodore Zuckerman

I was reading my local paper the other day and I came across an article1 about a local fish farm. According to the article, the New York State Department of Environmental Protection was investigating the developer of a local fish farm for mining "sand and dirt" without a permit. Were they mining sand and dirt? What the representative of the farming company says is that what they were doing was "grading and site preparation... not mining." Site preparation for what?

For greenhouses.

What? Greenhouses? Now I'm confused. What do greenhouses have to do with fish farming?

I needed to do a little internet research. What I learned is that fish farming and greenhouse gardening frequently "go together." Check out this article on aquaponics. Note that it says...

"My focus has always been and continues to be concentrated on quality fish growing systems with the aquaponics being the secondary profit center. Aquaponics was started to have a place to dispose of the fish waste in a profitable manner."

And here is another article on acquaponics, acquaponics with an emphasis on hydroponics. And still another article. Interesting to note that in this last article, they say "On the gravel bed, we also use watercress as a secondary means of water filtration."

Here's a web site selling whole acquaponics systems. This page shows vegetables being hydroponically grown, with the help of a fish farm.

It turns out that many of the vegetables you buy that are greenhouse grown, or hydroponically grown, may be a by-product of the fish farming business — growing vegetables is a little sideline that helps fish farmers turn a profit.

How many of the greenhouse grown vegetables seen in supermarkets, and organic speciality marketers, such as Whole Foods, are a byproduct of the fish farming business? By buying vegetables from these people, are you are helping someone cultivate and market fish? Take a look at the labels on the containers that those high quality tomatoes come in, the ones that actually taste like tomatoes. You may see, in tiny print, "greenhouse grown," or "hydroponically grown." Same goes for specialty vegetables like watercress and arugala. So the question that is on my mind, as a vegan, is: how many of those vegetables are actually a byproduct of the fish farming business, a little sideline that helps the fish farmers turn a profit on fish farming. I ask myself, is that hydroponically grown watercress I'm seeing on the market shelf, is it there because the grower wants to supply me with delicious watercress, or is it there because the grower is eager for a way to solve his problem of how is he going to get rid of all that fish poop that is piling up on his fish farm? And might it not be better if I bought vegetables grown by people whose passion is growing vegetables?

  1. Newsday, 2012 Jan 30, "Digging Deeper, Fish farm developers alleged mining violations probed," by Patrick Whittle