Food safety helped spur dream of greenhouses on urban rooftops
No, this isn’t the typical farm set in a rural region of the United States. And the farmers aren’t clad in overalls driving expensive farm equipment through fields of crops, many of which are being grown for customers in far-flung corners of the United States or for buyers overseas.
Quite the opposite. Gotham Greens is all about growing crops such as lettuces, salad greens and herbs for people “just down the street” — or in the case of its large greenhouse farm on the rooftop of Whole Foods in New York City, to the market literally under its feet.
So what is this all about? Simply put, it’s about growing certain crops not outside but rather inside greenhouses, which are on urban roof tops and don’t use soil. Or, as Gotham Greens says on its website, “reimagining how and when fresh food is grown.” The “where” in the company’s case is in cities across America. The “when” is year round, which is possible with greenhouse farming.
Food safety an important part of the equation
While a large part of this evolving type of agriculture is driven by a deep seated “philosophy” about sustainability, some of it is also being fueled by repeated romaine recalls in the past several years. Those recalls have been linked to outbreaks from romaine lettuce contaminated by the potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 pathogen. The romaine was grown in open fields in the Yuma, AZ, and Salinas, CA, regions.
Without a doubt, food safety plays an important part in the greenhouse approach to agriculture, as Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens said.
“Food safety is of paramount importance to Gotham Greens and has been since our founding 10 years ago,” Puri told Food Safety News.
Pointing out that the greenhouse vegetable industry has an inherent food safety advantage compared to open field farming, he attributes this advantage to its “physical infrastructure and higher levels of environmental controls.”
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