24 Nov 2017

Why Aquaponic Farming May Be the Future of Food

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Source: foodandwine.com

Sustainably-sourced agriculture is a perennial crowd-pleaser on dining menus, but within a widening swath of the world, it’s more about necessity than it is bending to the whim of culinary catchphrases. When preparing food on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, for example, the quality of the final product is wholly dependent upon building a harmony with the surrounding land. In Hawaii, this requires ingenuity. A surprising lack of arable acreage has forced growers to forge creative workarounds for harvesting meaningful yields. Chief among them: aquaponic farming. More than mere trend, it might just be the future of food.

Along the verdant, western shore of Oahu, Martin Knaubert oversees food and beverage for the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. He works with nearby producers to provide virtually all of the fruits and vegetables working their way on to the property. “One of the first steps in setting up our restaurants two years ago was to find farms that would align with our approach to use as many local products as possible,” he explains. It was during this discovery process that the chef stumbled upon the value of aquaponic agriculture and its particular value to this isolated island chain.

Aquaponics consist of a symbiotic, closed-loop system, wherein a stored tank of fish produce wastewater that’s used as fertilizer to feed beds of vegetation. The plant life, in turn, filters the liquid through its roots, returning cleaned water back into the aquarium. “I never knew how self-sufficient this system is, once set up properly,” Knaubert says. “I am amazed at how low-impact it is on soil and natural resources, but yet delivers a great yield of superior quality products.”

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