When it comes to finding creative solutions to pressing problems, few fields compare to the food industry. Whether responding to consumer demands for fresh and pesticide-free ingredients, promoting greater safety, upping food production to meet future demands, or reducing their carbon footprint, food industry professionals have no shortage of tall tasks to tackle.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in which the food industry has proven that it’s more than up to the challenge. Already, more products are being formulated with natural ingredients rather than artificial ones, and organic options are becoming more and more common.
For students looking to make positive changes that could have a lasting impact, the food industry offers many opportunities for innovation. In fact, there’s one farm that could offer a peek into where future ingredients for food products might be grown.
Would you like to know a little more? Here’s a closer look at the world’s largest indoor farm, and how it might affect the careers of future food industry professionals.
A Look at the World’s Largest Indoor Farm
The old headquarters of a steel-supply company might not sound like the place for food industry innovation, but then again, sometimes innovation comes from unlikely places. That’s certainly the case with AeroFarm, which repurposed the building of an old steel-supply company to create the biggest indoor farm on the planet. Located in New Jersey, the indoor farm takes up 70,000 square feet of space and produces a mind-boggling 2 million pounds of lettuce, kale, bok choi, and other greens each and every year. In fact, with the help of the plant factory’s meticulously controlled indoor environment, it’s able to be 130 times more productive than a traditional farm.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the plant factory also uses 95 per cent less water than traditional outdoor fields and doesn’t need to use pesticides. As any graduate of a food safety course can attest, those are impressive numbers.
Plans for the Future of Indoor Farming
While AeroFarm is by far the biggest farm of its kind, it’s by no means the only indoor factory farm. Another company called Mirai has successfully been operating its very own “plant factory” for years in Japan. Just like AeroFarm, it also grows plants pesticide-free and uses significantly less water and space to produce plenty of produce. Mirai already has plans to expand operations and create farms in Hong Kong and Russia.
Around the world, indoor farms are becoming more and more popular, with many different options cropping up. One company in Germany, for example, is working to bring smaller indoor farms right into people’s homes. Another producer, located in Japan, has combined farm with grocery shop—allowing customers to pluck fresh tomatoes right from the vine and put them into their carts.
Indoor Farming Addresses Many Consumer Preferences
While it’s always difficult to tell exactly what the impact of a new technology will be, many are hopeful that indoor mega farms could solve several problems currently plaguing the food industry. To start with, consumers are increasingly looking for healthy foods that are fresh, safe, local, and that produce a minimal impact on the environment. Because indoor farms grow produce in a tightly controlled environment, they are able to help meet many of these consumer preferences. The farms’ sealed environment means that no pesticides need to be used to keep crops safe. In addition, water, fertilizer, and land use are kept at a minimum, which helps to reduce environmental impact. And, because plants can be grown in large urban factories, items don’t need to be transported over long distances, meaning that they can be fresher and more local than products grown traditionally.
How Will This New Approach to Produce Affect Future Graduates of Food Quality Training?
And yet the potential benefits of indoor farming don’t just end with the consumer. There are also plenty of reasons why professionals with a food technology diploma may also benefit from indoor farms. For example, professionals working in plant sanitation and regulatory affairs are all too aware that harmful bacteria can wreak havoc on a food supply. An E-coli outbreak caused by contaminated soil and water, for example, could lead to the recall of many leafy greens and other products, seriously damaging a company’s reputation. Because of their tightly controlled environments, indoor farms are less susceptible to these kinds of pathogens, and produce ingredients that food industry professionals can trust.
In addition, indoor farms also offer another important benefit: their reliable environments mean that consumers and industry professionals don’t need to worry about a bad growing season ruining crops. As a result, price fluctuations and shortages are less likely to occur, making it easier for food industry professionals to offer wonderful and nutritious products to their customers.
Do you want to be a part of the future of the food industry?
Contact AAPS College to start your food quality training today!