When I used to think of gardens, it was in the traditional sense.. fruits and veggies. More and more though I’m coming to a conclusion that I need to also focus on the other half of growing food… proteins.
I’ve never been a fan of humanely killing animals for general consumption. This came after visiting a slaughter house in Greeley, Colorado when I was attending college. When you see it at that scale and the sheer mechanics of it all, it will definitely change your view of how you get the chow on your table. Like most, its much easier to just buy a package of pre-processed meat to serve because of the disconnect one has with ones food nowadays. But now that I’m making a more dramatic leap into cultivating my own foods, it becomes much more apparent that I need to add proteins into the mix and attempt to do so as humanely as possible.
Eggs are our first jump. As no fertilization takes place, our eggs are in essence a simple source of protein that can be repetitively cultivated and not have any negative side effects towards the animals themselves. Our chickens are not for meat consumption, purely for egg laying. The next steps will be to harvest things like fish (on ice), Crayfish, Quinoa, Spirulina, Soy, milk products such as cheese and whey. Other protein bearing foods like nuts and beans can be cultivated as well.
I won’t say I’ll be totally cured of the need for beef. I readily admit that on occasion I’ll head out for a steak every now and again. But hopefully no where near as much as I once used to.
Truth be told, it’ll get much easier as time goes on. We’ve all seen the grocery bills climb in recent years and that trend, like gas prices, is not likely to go back down to more reasonable prices ever again.
I’ve spoken before about how adding sophistication to one’s growing setup can be a recipe for more things that can go wrong. But lets say you do it right.. lets say you keep your balances checked and within a reasonable median of safety, then what? Well you might become exceptional at making an ultra-efficient growing setup. You might also be coming to a crossroads..
The one factor in any aquaponics setup that should be foremost in your mind is that you have living breathing animals that rely on your care. If you are aiming to produce huge numbers of fish, the means by which you achieve that goal can easily go from being a system that provides harmony with the fish, to something more like what you’d see in a factory farm. Granted the fish will be harvested in the end, so the idea would be, “What does it matter if the fish are happy or not?” Well, in the end, that bit is up to the grower. I’m personally of the belief that if you’re going to grow something, whether plant or animal, that you provide an environment that is the best it can be for them.
I’d like to provide this video of a commercial AP setup that is right on that bleeding edge. They are currently able to achieve 1lb of fish per 1 gallon of water through the use of high protein fish feed (which most likely is derived from fish-meal, i.e other fish) but also through the application of liquid oxygen being applied to the system. Its a spectacular setup.. a good deal of thought did go into this design. But if you look closely at the tanks you can see the density of fish is at a point of being nearly inhumane. At that density it becomes questionable as to whether the setup is environmentally sound or is primarily for profit at the expense of the fish.
I’ll leave it to your own judgement, but I just want to leave you with a final thought..
Just because a technique(s) impressive and it can be done, some Common Sense should come into play telling you that its pushing the boundaries of what should be sustainable, only to become what is artificially inflated and more for greed then striking a good balance with the natural world around you (or the one you help to create).