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should organic food be grown in soil
Risun Bio-Tech Inc  Dec 21, 2016

Should Organic Food be Grown in Soil?


   There is a battle going on in the organic industry over hydroponics, the technique of growing plants 

without soil. The debate gets at the very heart of what it means to be “organic” and may change the organic 

food available to grocery store shoppers.


    To be labeled as organic, fruits and vegetables are required to be grown without genetic modification or 

synthetic chemicals, and to meet other rules set out by the Agriculture Department. But what about produce 

that isn’t grown in the dirt?


    Hydroponic growing operations circulate a nutrient-rich fluid commonly calledcompost tea, which contains 

all of the nutrients produce needs to grow – no soil needed. Many hydroponic farmers contend their system 

protects soil by not even using it. If they grow produce without the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides barred 

in organic production, they say, they should be allowed to market their goods as organic.


    That’s a problem for many farmers who say soil is the essential ingredient for organic production. Many 

organic farmers say that from its very inception, organic farming was built on nurturing soil health. And some 

are worried that cheaper produce harvested year-round from hydroponic farms in warehouses will undercut 

organic prices.


    At its core, this argument is one of many popping up as the $43 billion organic industry explodes in 

popularity. Other organic dilemmas about the definition of organic seafood, the size of organic farms and the 

creation of an industry group for lobbying and research have threatened to upend the burgeoning industry.


    Chris Boeckmann is the manager of Lincoln University’s organic farm in central Missouri. Recently a 

colleague of his built a hydroponic system on the farm to grow lettuce.