Yeah, we've made a mess. Here's the kind of off-the-wall idea we need to keep growing edible food.
The farmers in Bujama, Peru, have a water problem.
It's a lot like the one farmers in many other places are facing: Their water's poisoned by pollution. In Bujama's case, it's cadmium, lead, and arsenic. The largest source of water in Peru is the Rímac River, one of the world's most polluted rivers as a result of mining runoff pouring into the smaller waterways that feed it.
Vegetables grown using this water suck up the bad stuff, so the majority of produce grown for millions of people is contaminated. This isn't just a local problem either. Most food-borne illnesses in the U.S. are caused by toxins in veggies.
Some engineers had a kind-of extreme idea: grow produce off the ground, using water delivered by air.
Students at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) devised a pilot project with 10 humidifiers connected to 48 tubes.
Lettuce was planted in 51 holes cut into the tubes.
The set their tubes on racks a few feet off the funky earth.
Water from the ground = bad. Water from the air? Better.
The humidifiers pulled water from the air. That clean water then dripped into the tubes. Boom: 2,448 healthy heads of lettuce.
For a month, they gave away the produce to anyone driving by.
This is how healthy food can be grown in Bujama — and beyond.
All they need is a bajillion humidifiers and tubes. We can only imagine what a farm based on this idea is going to look like, but all the damage we've done to the earth is forcing people to think outside the box. And up into the air.