Learn about your lettuce!
What is the difference between vertically-farmed lettuce and the conventional lettuces that are more familiar to you? Comparing the two products can be challenging because they are grown using very different systems. Vertical farms can be established in many different types of places (e.g., warehouses, shipping containers, etc.), whereas conventional lettuce is typically grown on agricultural land in greenhouses or fields. In addition, unlike conventional lettuce, vertical farming is typically done without soil, using hydroponic or aeroponic systems instead.
Several factors affect lettuce quality (i.e., nutritional value, appearance), and these could be attributed to the conditions in which the lettuce was grown and harvested. Some of these conditions are plant nutrient uptake, microbial activity, light intensity (LED or sunlight), and the lettuce variety. Other factors to consider when thinking about qualities of a crop include those that relate to its role within food systems, which could include environmental (e.g., land use), economic (e.g., market price), and social (e.g., nutrition) factors. Such factors allow us to think about how vertical farming can contribute to local food systems, and what are key opportunities and challenges for this farming approach to fulfill this role.
How far did you lettuce travel?
Click your neighbourhood below to see how far the lettuce travelled from the farm to you. For comparison, these are (roughly) the distances between your grocery store and places from where lettuce is frequently imported to Canada.
Central Coast, California
Yuma County, Arizona