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Saturation Point

Eating Fresh
By Karey Burek
Dec 18, 2008 - 10:51:16 AM

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I am overrun with sweets. Dark chocolate and peppermint covered popcorn. Rice Krispie treats.  Chocolate covered marshmallows.  Sugar cookies with thick icing, surely to put me in a sugar stooper.  Of course these haven’t been gifts, I have purchased all of these ­delectable items because, after all, it is the holiday season and I can always start working out after the first of the year, right?

Karey Burek photos photos taken while on the tour behind the scenes at EPCOT -- plants growing without soil.

Fortunately I was pulled out of my sugar shock on a recent family trip to Orlando where we were able to see first-hand how to grow fresh veggies and fruit the high tech hydroponic way.  As part of our special educational tour through The Land at EPCOT, we were treated to a slice of cucumber that put me into a euphoric state—much like my chocolate does. I found myself tasting a vegetable that was so fresh, cool and crisp; the skin of this seeded treat snapped as I bit into it and was one of the cleanest tastes I have ever experienced. It seems odd that I would be so enthralled with a vegetable, since they are far from my favorite snack. But perhaps the way these vegetables and fruits were grown added to the flavor?

my brother Jason pointed to veggies that are being rotated and saturated with water.

After our tour I began to long for a garden of my own where I could grow massive produce and maybe bypass the sweet treats I find myself reaching for. What made this experience different then visiting a regular greenhouse was that everything is grown hydroponically, or without soil. At The Land, they don’t use pesticides; they use natural methods of keeping plants healthy; one of which is using ladybugs to help the growing process.

For a beginner like me, there is a small 10-gallon tank that I can whet my whistle on before taking on the big task of a whole garden. I found out through my research on how to begin growing hydroponically, I must first use plants that are seedlings and have already begun to sprout. However, I don’t necessarily need clay pots, I can use rockwool or oasis cubes that you can purchase from any hydroponic supplier. Once I see my sprout, I have to make sure that there are a few good roots before I can transfer them to my tank.

Plants growing without soil.

The tank is the tricky part, and if you were to attempt this stage in the growing process, one would need an aquarium tank; construction paper to block out light so algae doesn’t grow; air pump and air tubing; hydroponic nutrients; litmus paper and Ph adjusters; and of course your seedling. WOW!  That sounds like a lot of work, but it is something that intrigues me and motivates me to grow fresh and eat fresh as well. Resources I found useful were and of course the University of Florida Horticulture Sciences Department; both good sites for information to get you thinking about whether you want to take on the task of hydroponic gardening.

Food is on my mind all the time lately because of the holidays and all of the seasonal goodies that are only available for a limited amount of time. I do find myself stocking up on sweets and treats and munching cookies and candy to fulfill my daily caloric intake. But perhaps my holiday detox will be to feed my body hydroponic goods? I’ll have to attempt it after I get done with my cookies -- I don’t want to waste baked goods.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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