In-house farm-to-table: How hydroponics is changing the way we eat

As only the freshest regional ingredients — preferably foraged in a nearby forest — became the trend for most Michelin-starred joints in Europe, it was only a matter of time technology entered the picture. Why leave it to circumstance and the whims of the atmosphere? What if you can grow your own produce and herbs without any risks and with a climate that you can control?

Indoor farms at restaurants
Indoor farms also went from being suppliers within the city to being inside restaurants. It became rather trendy to have their own, small, tech-powered farms where their customers could see their food grow. That purple light emanating from a glass-walled, industrial-looking fridge signaled to people that the chef was modern and that they were getting the freshest produce possible. It was everything Berliners wanted in their restaurants, especially with the food industry becoming more and more focused on greens rather than meat.

Israeli chef Meir Adoni, known for his restaurants in his home country and New York, opened his first, contemporary dining spot in Berlin called Layla in 2019. Of course, it had a couple of its own indoor farms and for Adoni’s kind of cooking, it definitely made sense. “Herbs are an integral part of Middle Eastern cuisine,” he said. “We use between 20 and 30 per dish.”

Kitchen assistants, sometimes even the chef himself, would pop on over to their indoor farms, crack the door open, and pluck a couple of basil leaves or cherry tomatoes before walking back to their open kitchen where their ‘harvest’ would be put to good use. 

Indoor farms such as the ones in Berlin use hydroponics, a way of farming developed by scientists where plants can be grown in nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Not only does it save precious space in farmlands, but it also conserves water. Hyperlocal Farms is doing exactly this kind of farming in the Philippines.

“Hyperlocal Farms uses hydroponics and an indoor climate control system in order to optimize all the conditions for the crops we grow,” said co-founder and head of business Cris Cu. “In our 40-foot container, we can fit up to an acre worth of crops and we efficiently utilize resources like water to ensure less wastage.”

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