We are in the midst of a food revolution. In the seafood sector throughout the U.S., the revolution that wants to take place is in aquaculture, or fish farming.
The current mode of commodity aquaculture is only one generation old. The conventional model driving food production from that period also gave us petro-fertilized, agro-industrial single crop fields of mostly corn or soy. Following that agro-model, industrial fish farming delivered unprecedented commodity volumes. The legacy of that model also gave us unprecedented waste, disease, and coastal degradation. Earlier models of aquaculture, however, practiced at village and subsistence levels for millennia were sustainable, useful, yet admittedly limited.
What is wanted, and desperately needed now, is our evolution to a next-gen model. I call that emerging model AqC3.0, or Aquaculture 3.0. This model aligns well with the growing food system changes seen in loose yet connected regional patchworks of Urban Agriculture, Farmer's Markets, roof-top farms, Community Supported Agriculture, and a growing preference for good, clean, fair, and locavore eating. Yet, about a decade ago the professional environmental and conservation agencies put out a message to those of us ecologically concerned about fish. The message was, direct: Farmed is Bad. Wild is Good. Caring seafood lovers throughout the nation sat down to menus encouraged to ask, "Is this farmed or wild?" If the answer was farmed, they were encouraged to feel quite righteous in stating that they wouldn't touch farmed fish--no way, no how. Problem is that message was wrong.
The environmental critiques from that period -- 2004 to the present -- focused on commodity practices of multinational corporations driving fish farming down the same tracks as industrial agribusiness. It is this model of industrial scale fish farming that we need to seriously question -- not all aquaculture. Indeed, the way to put Urban Agriculture and the like on a mega-nutrient diet for optimum productivity is to merge aquaculture with hydroponics, enter integrated aquaponics. Following the 'Waste = Food' design of natural life cycles, integrated aquaponics unleashes our food growing potential with a biologically smart supercharger that can feed the good, clean, fair food to local communities, urban centers, food deserts, hip local restaurants, and even the next generation of fast-casual eatery chains.
Integrated aquaponic systems can compliment and transform our vision of fresh food production. With direct infusions of fish-based nutrients and recycled water systems all the vegetables you'd love on your table can be grown fresh. Additionally, such integrated bio-smart tech designs, can provide our proteins and produce while also reducing demands on our precious water supplies by 90%, or more.
This is just the start of a food revolution hiding in plain sight. This revolution is calling out to a new generation inspired by the biological wonders of ecosystems aligned with natural system science and artisan-scale stewardship, food grown with smart tech and ecological design. These are practices with the promise to reintroduce transparency and trust back into our food chain.
Food offered by such a next-gen of eco-stewards practicing AqC.v3.0 can deliver on the promise of a delicious revolution that you can enjoy and vote for every day, with your fork.