Highly perishable vegetables are often shipped long distances to grocery store shelves. For example, almost all the lettuce in the U.S. comes from California or Arizona.

Lightfoot: “And it’s centralized in a way that uses an enormous amount of water where water is extraordinarily scarce and precious. It also uses a lot of fossil fuels.”

That’s Paul Lightfoot, CEO of Bright Farms. He has a solution to reduce the carbon footprint of his leafy greens — including lettuce, kale, and arugula.

Lightfoot: “It’s about shortening food miles with very, very perishable products.”

By building and operating greenhouses in cities and suburbs close to grocery stores, Bright Farms limits the fuel used to ship their vegetables.

The local greenhouses use hydroponics, a method of growing plants in water instead of soil. They also re-circulate the water, reducing the amount needed.

Because the growing conditions are more controlled, greenhouses can grow local food supplies that are more resilient to extreme weather events.

And, because produce can move from greenhouse to plate within twenty-four hours, residents also get fresher, healthier, more flavorful food.

Lightfoot: “The closer to harvest date you can eat your produce, the better the nutrition’s gonna be.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Bright Farms greenhouse (source: How We Grow).

More Resources
BrightFarms: A Produce Supply Chain Revolution
Bright Farms

Lisa Palmer

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...