“From an environmental perspective, vertical farms could play a critical role in reducing land, fertilizer, water, and pesticide use for greens, vine crops, herbs, and other high-value crops,” said Daniel Blaustein-Rejto, director of food and agriculture at The Breakthrough Institute. Kate Schaffner, global business partner, sustainable agriculture at Kellogg Company, said that “Vertical farming’s strengths lie in its high productivity and its potential to diversify how and where food is produced, which can promote resilience in our food systems.”
Both Blaustein-Rejto and Schaffner pointed to energy use as the biggest challenge for the vertical farming industry. However, Blaustein-Retjo was quick to note that indoor production of certain crops can still have relatively low carbon emissions despite being energy-intensive. “This is because vertical farming can reduce emissions related to food loss, transport, and land use,” Blaustein-Retjo explained. “For instance, over one-third of lettuce and salad greens are typically lost pre-retail—much of these losses are avoidable with indoor production.”
Even the alternative meats industry is getting involved in vertical farming to make production more efficient. Alternative meat startup MyForest Foods recently built what it calls the world’s largest aerial mycelium farm, a 78,000 square-foot facility in Green Island, New York, to increase production of the company’s mushroom-based imitation bacon reported Axios.
The vertical mycelium farm is expected to produce almost three million pounds of mycelium annually, grown on racks reaching 16 feet tall in buildings designed to replicate a forest-like environment.
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