Store-bought tomatoes suck, beef is supposedly killing the planet, and organic food might not be as healthy as you think. The food we consume is questionable, but so are the suggested solutions. Paul Lightfoot, Founder and CEO Emeritus of BrightFarms walks me through a pragmatic and reasonable way consumers can eat healthfully, and treat our planet better without going to extremes.
What is BrightFarms?
BrightFarms uses hydroponic greenhouses to grow produce as close as possible to the consumer, meaning it doesn’t travel as far to get to you. The result is produce that is picked ripe, instead of produce that is picked early. It’s this simple reason why garden-grown tomatoes taste great, and ones from the store suck, Lightfoot explains. Produce at the store is grown for easy transportation.
Currently, the US Food system is responsible for one third of emissions in this country, and Lightfoot believes their hydroponic approach can significantly cut that down. He also believes if retailers were more transparent on which growers were responsible, consumers would opt to choose growers that were more sustainable. Will retailers adapt though?
Should we give up beef?
You’ve probably heard about cow farts, and how beef and meat contribute to climate change. I asked Lightfoot for a straight answer: is beef really bad for the environment, and do we really need to give it up? His answer is a relief for steak lovers. No!
Industrial beef is the worst climate offender in the food system as of right now, but we don’t need to give it up to reduce our emissions. We simply need to be more responsible. Beef, cattle and meat aren’t the problem, it’s the way we produce them.
Is organic a racket?
Many consumers don’t fully understand what “organic” actually means. They don’t understand the USDA actually has to certify something as organic in the USA. Lightfoot also explains fewer than 1% of farms in the USA are even organic. Much of our organic food comes from other countries.
More About BrightFarms and Paul Lightfoot
Here’s Paul’s Negative Foods Newsletter
Learn more about BrightFarms.