A Fish Story

In the past few years, eating seems to have become an ethical maze. Local? Organic? Low-carbon? Vegetarian? But almost everyone agrees that growing your own is a way of sourcing food that is good for your health, the environment (unless you’re pumping your garden full of toxic pesticides), and your pocketbook.

And increasingly, home food producers are turning into minifarms, supplementing their veggies with protein sources. In some cities, you can’t swing a cat without hitting backyard chickens producing brilliant-yolked eggs for their diligent caretakers.

But some are ranging beyond the hen and using a technique that merges aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (a soil-free method of growing crops). Enviro-news source TreeHugger.com reports on aquaponics, a system in which the waste products from a tank of fish are pumped into gravel grow beds that contain food plants. The fish waste breaks down into fertilizers, and the plants filter the water, making it safe to pump back into the fish tank. Aquaculture fans say that the system uses only about 10 percent of the water used by traditional fish-farming methods. In a world where water is becoming increasingly scarce, that’s impressive.

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