- Define the term “food desert”
- Describe how hydroponics can help to solve the problem of food insecurity
The USDA defines food deserts as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Modern Steader takes that a bit further, suggesting that areas served by grocery stores that carry little to no organic and non-GMO food products are doing little to lift communities above the status of “food deserts”. Based on that definition, many urban and rural communities would still be considered as such.
But there is hope in hydroponics and small scale farming operations. Though many farmers using traditional soil-based growing methods are subject to the seasons, hydroponic growers have the ability to grow all year long. And better yet, hydroponic systems can be installed in a number of non-traditional places, indoors or out, in basements with artificial lights or on rooftops, and in small spaces or large ones. Hydroponics offers a level of flexibility, scalability, and portability that can be leveraged to grow fresh produce in areas that are not suitable for production using other methods. This attribute of hydroponics alone answers the question that many food deserts are asking. How can we grow nutrient dense produce for ourselves?
Teach the Teacher
Tools & Materials
- SMART Board, whiteboard, or chalkboard
- Food desert
- Locally sourced
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by defining the terms food desert, organic, and non-GMO. Ask the Students if they think their town is a food desert. Describe how hydroponics can be used to grow fresh nutrient dense food in a variety of locations. Mention some of the key flexibilities that hydroponics offer the small scale farmer.
Activity (20 minutes)
Using a Smart Board, whiteboard, or chalkboard, ask the Students to name vegetables that they like to eat. List their choices on the board. Do they get to eat those often? Would they like to eat those favorites more often? Can those be grown using hydroponics? Note those varieties that can be grown in a hydroponic system.
Discussion (10 minutes)
Where does your family shop for food? Which grocery stores, farms, or restaurants? Do you know where the produce is grown or where it comes from? What if you could buy your favorite vegetables from a hydroponics operation? Would you feel better knowing where it comes from and how it was grown?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you think we live in a food desert?
- Now that you understand what a food desert is, how many of you think we live in a food desert?
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