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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Balconies-and-roofs dept.

Phys.org:

Urban farming has grown by more than 30 percent in the United States in the past 30 years. Although it has been estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20 percent of global food demand, it remains to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities.

One recent survey found that 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30 percent of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production.

Is urban farming a pipe dream, or can appropriating vacant lots for traditional farming or employing hydroponics make it work?


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  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:58PM (17 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:58PM (#800729)

    What I am wondering is if there will be quantity and quality in it, will there be enough and will it be cheap or will this turn into some hipster diet where they can eat their locally produced crops and things made from it.

    You could probably always find room and space for it in the urban environment, there will always be run down buildings that can be converted or underground complexes that will be great for mushrooms etc. But I doubt you'll see them put up any new 50 floor buildings in the middle of Manhattan to grow carrots in it or whatever. That just goes against the whole thing since attractive spaces in the urban environment are not cheap so this, probably, only works if there are run down parts of town with old factories and such that can be easily converted.

    Will it be efficient enough or as noted will this just be for the urban hipsters will the rest of us keep eating food produced out in the countryside.

    • (Score: 3, Disagree) by doke on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:35PM (11 children)

      by doke (6955) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:35PM (#800744)

      An urban mushroom facility would get shut down over complaints about the odor. The "mushroom compost" (ground up dirt, straw, and farm animal feces) needs to be sterilized before planting, or you get random other species of fungus mixed in. The sterilization is done by heating the dirt to about 100C for at least 30 minutes. This produces an intense, unpleasant odor. If you've ever been within 20 miles of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, USA, you will know that smell.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:52PM (6 children)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:52PM (#800790) Journal

        No. Feces is optional, other materials can be used. It certainly can be done:

        https://grocycle.com/how-to-set-up-a-low-tech-mushroom-farm/ [grocycle.com]

        The biggest problem is probably getting customers for your product, dealing with restaurants that don't pay you promptly, etc.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:10AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:10AM (#800811)

          The best substrate is coarsely ground grains. Bake for a few hours at low temp and it's good enough, cheap, and easy to source.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:02PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:02PM (#801068)

            From an urban grain field?
            Because if you depend on conventional farming to grow the materials to grow your urban mushrooms, you're not doing a thing to, um, "improve food security". (A curious euphemism for "prepare for Civil War 2.0: Rural vs. Urban.")

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:13AM (3 children)

          by Reziac (2489) on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:13AM (#800859) Homepage

          The other problem is that mushrooms may be tasty, but they have just about zero nutritional value.

          Every time I see one of these articles, I'm reminded that very few urbanites have any concept of the *scale* of the agriculture it takes to keep them fed. Their idea of farming is a backyard chicken and a potted plant, but food itself comes from the grocer by magic.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:57AM (2 children)

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:57AM (#800871) Journal

            People buy and eat mushrooms, so there could be value in growing them in a city. And it's probably the most practical option out of all of the things urban farming can produce.

            100 grams of mushrooms [google.com] has some potassium, fiber, and protein, some traces of vitamins, and some unproven compounds [nytimes.com]. I'd have no problem eating a pound of them every day, cooked or raw, and I can get it as cheap as around $1.20-$1.50/lb sometimes. 1 lb of white mushrooms would provide around 27% DV of protein, 40% DV of potassium, and 18% DV of fiber, in just 100 calories (based on Google link).

            We had a story about blending mushrooms with ground beef in hamburgers [soylentnews.org]. It's not something I've done (I don't eat a lot of beef), and it does lower the overall protein content, but the calorie reduction could be helpful and the taste combo [wikipedia.org] is good.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:56PM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:56PM (#800792) Journal

        Sterilization can be archived by other means.

        E.g. hydrogen peroxide work for different substrate coffee ground [youtube.com], wood pellets [youtube.com], sawdust [jontrot.free.fr]

        Besides, one may think that sterile can be prepared outside city and delivered to the buyers still sterile packed.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:31AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:31AM (#800839)

          sterile can be prepared outside city and delivered to the buyers still sterile packed

          So rather than just ship the finished product in from the rural area, they'll ship the compost out of the city, treat it, then ship it back? mmmkay.

          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:45AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:45AM (#800844) Journal

            So rather than just ship the finished product in from the rural area, they'll ship the compost out of the city, treat it, then ship it back? mmmkay.

            With the note that they don't need to send first any compost out of the city, why not?

            The value-proposition: you can keep the substrate sterile for long time (maybe without refrigeration) and always have your mushroom picked fresh and sold hours in paper bags in custom quantities hours after harvesting. Instead of after at least 3 days of transit through various (refrigerated) warehouses and plastic-wrapping them in predetermined quantities for the shelf.

            If the cost of evacuating the used compost is lower than the price of storage/packing the mushrooms on the way to the shelf, it may even be more economic to do so.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:44AM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:44AM (#800943) Homepage Journal

        ... to the traditional method of sterilizing not just the substrate, but the entire interior of the Mushroom Shed.

        Back in the heady days of yore, the coast of California between Santa Cruz and San Francisco had lots of mushroom sheds, but there's only one left now, I think unused.

        My father told me that one would place buckets of sulfuric acid down the aisle in the middle between the beds. Is there a Chemist in the house? Can you see where I am going with this?

        Then you walk to the back of the shed with a bunch of paper sacks full of Potassium Ferrocyanide. Perhaps realization is dawning upon you sorry lot.

        Drop the sacks in the bucks as you run like Hell down the aisle, out the door, slam it shut then bolt it for a few days.

        That just had to rock to work as a mushroom farmer. Not.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by richtopia on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:41AM

      by richtopia (3160) on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:41AM (#800803) Homepage Journal

      I'm a gardener and follow an urban farmer on YouTube for inspiration. From what I've seen, many installations are actually suburban; taking advantage of back yards or vacant plots.

      I doubt these systems can replace all of the calories consumed by a city. However, they can be beneficial in other ways:
      1. Reduce transport costs by producing near consumption
      2. Reduce duration between harvest and consumption. This helps with nutritional content and spoilage
      3. Enable debt-free farming. Competing with factory farms is very difficult for new entrants to the industry. Urban farms typically are on borrowed/leased land with hand tools or small machinery reducing the capital investment

    • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:30AM (2 children)

      by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:30AM (#800822)

      What I am wondering is if there will be quantity and quality in it

      Quantity maybe, depends on how much automation and 3d stacking is done.

      Quality, potentially FAR higher.
      Many fruits and vegetables have a narrow window of best before.
      Can you imagine going and purchasing produce that was picked hours / minutes before you purchased it?

      Current industrial crops are being pushed to narrow ripeness windows so that crops can be harvested one shot. Many crops produce more if you do partial picking of what is currently ready. Robotic (or manual) pick on demand can increase quantity and quality.

      Many cultivars(tomatoes, mangoes, bananas) that are found in the stores are the ones that ship well. If you are growing locally you can grow the best tasting cultivars that don't ship because you are not shipping the produce. This could be a marketing thing for a urban farmer.

      There is definite potential for quality boosting with urban agriculture.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:33AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:33AM (#800840)

        Many fruits and vegetables have a narrow window of best before. Can you imagine going and purchasing produce that was picked hours / minutes before you purchased it?

        Sounds great, except you then can only get the produce that was just picked.

        Today's dinner: rhubarb, with a side of rhubarb and rhubarb pie for dessert!

      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:47AM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:47AM (#800946) Homepage Journal

        but not at all in California.

        The grocery stores here have all manner of apples that I've never seen anywhere else.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:37AM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:37AM (#800942) Homepage Journal

      -ms.

      Just pick up a Loompanix book.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:02PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:02PM (#800731)

    We'd have to have a good reason why normal farming is no good. Given that, we might switch to artificial lighting with crops stacked up high, and that can be done with moderately-priced land.

    Invasive bugs and fungus could go it. We might decide to seal the crops indoors for protection. If we did this, then we might grow crops in buildings similar to warehouses. There might be 40-foot ceilings and forklifts to move plant boxes down for harvesting. It still won't make sense with land value like Manhattan or Tokyo or San Francisco, but it could be done in normal cities.

    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:14PM (4 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:14PM (#800734)

      We'd have to have a good reason why normal farming is no good.

      Exactly. Urban farming is an interesting idea, and for some crops might even be more efficient, but there would be lots of local variables and as long as we continue to have reliable transport from the rural areas I'm not sure what problem urban farming is trying to solve.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:27AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:27AM (#800799)

        Pesticides and fertilizers killing insects and thus threatening the rest of the land animals, man included, could be one.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:35AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:35AM (#800841)

        The problem it's trying to solve is that city hipsters look down their noses at "country bumpkin" farmers and are desperate to prove that they don't need them. Embarrassingly (for the sneering cityfolk), they depend on the rural farmers much more than the rural farmers depend on them.

        • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:58AM

          by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:58AM (#800952) Homepage Journal

          My father was one such. At three months old, Dad's father and mother packed their pickup with what they could carry, abandoned all their other possessions, then baby daddy, Grandpa, Grandma and the toddler Uncle Herb drove from Santa Cruz California to Grass Valley as Grandpa had heard there was work for carpenters in the gold mines of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

          One day when I was six, two of his friends and fellow officers aboard his ship came to visit us. One said to me, "Your father is very intelligent. You should ask him questions."

          Uncle Herb went on to be the VP of Finance for Boswell Cotton Corporation, one of California's largest agribusinesses, perhaps one of the world's biggest actually.

          Grandpa Speelmon was from way out in the middle of nowhere in Montana. He hitch-hiked from their to Denver to study at the U of Colorado Medical School, where he paid his way by working part time jobs. During World War II, he was a Captain in the US Army Air Force Medical Corps. When he died by his own hand in 1948, he was the Chief Surgeon at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane Washington.

          I've met lots more City Bumpkins than those of the Country.

          --
          Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
        • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday February 18 2019, @12:37AM

          by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday February 18 2019, @12:37AM (#802688)

          ...city hipsters look down their noses at "country bumpkin" farmers...

          Not where I live they don't. The farmers here don't tend to be gap-toothed racist yokel arseholes though.

    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:50AM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:50AM (#800947) Homepage Journal

      ... that were once completely covered with coffee plantations.

      It's become quite a serious problem in South America. There is no practical way to prevent or to treat it other than to plant trees that are bred to resist it, so Starbucks is handing out free rust-resistant trees to farmers.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:14PM (#800735)

    Agricultural areas outside of the city are best for growing agricultural products. Hardly a surprise. Doing the same in a city is much more expensive. Some may grow a few stalks in a free space of their apartment and call it urban agriculture, but it's not sufficient even for the grower. If she wants to have a fuller garden, she needs to buy space, water, light - something that comes nearly free on a farm. She wants to set up hydroponics and tiered rows of plants? Sure, as long as you pay.

    There is also the problem of "Chinese iron furnaces in every backyard [wikipedia.org]." This program resulted in poor quality of the product and high cost due to decentralization. In our case each plant needs its small pouch of fertilizer. A farmer's self-driving tractor spreads fertilizer by a barrel, and each plant is handled in a millisecond, at a very low cost.

    Nobody needs urban farming until the deliveries of food to the city stop. But then everything stops, as the city does not have a coal mine and a coal powerplant, or a nuclear station, or an independent water supply, or a universal factory that makes everything from nothing. In other words, it would be your last chance to leave the city; urban farming will not be your primary thought.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:17PM (7 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:17PM (#800737)

    My former fair city had a substantial urban farming and gardening program going. And while it might not have produced a ton of food in terms of sheer quantity, it did make a substantial difference in what kinds of food were available.

    For instance, this community garden [google.com] is right smack dab in the middle of one of the poorest urban neighborhoods in America. And the reason it's there is that it gives the residents of that neighborhood a chance to get fresh vegetables that would otherwise be too expensive and hard to find in the area. Which, as you can imagine, is important for being able to get vitamin A and other important nutrients that simply don't exist in fast food and what you can find in convenience stores.

    And the best part is that the spaces they're doing this in had previously housed condemned buildings. The city demolished the buildings, made the now-vacant lots available to rent for something like $10 a year via a land bank, and helped residents create these kinds of places. Turning urban blight into urban agriculture is definitely an improvement.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:41PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:41PM (#800786)

      That sounds great, but how do they prevent things like particles of rubber, asphalt, soot, lead (I assume all gas is unleaded, but...), and other toxins from entering this food. It's probably better to exist than to have neighborhoods have no fresh produce at all, but is there any health hazard to be concerned with?

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:49PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:49PM (#800789)

        One of the hoops they have to go through is doing a soil test of the lot from a qualified lab. If there's nasty stuff in the soil, they have to do a bunch of work to ensure that they're not growing crops that will pick up the contamination. There are also some plants you can put in that will specifically pull out the pollution from the soil, and then you don't eat those.

        (I was involved in a different project to start up something similar to the spot I just highlighted above, which is how I know something about the process.)

        TL;DR: Yes, they thought of that problem.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:01AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:01AM (#800829)

      Sounds like they need more grocery stores, not more farms. Urban food deserts are certainly a problem that local governments should address. But consider the essential conflict here:

      it gives the residents of that neighborhood a chance to get fresh vegetables that would otherwise be too expensive and hard to find in the area

      The city demolished the buildings, made the now-vacant lots available to rent for something like $10 a year via a land bank

      The vegetables became available not as a result of better land use, but because the government decided to massively subsidize this particular farm. If the goal is to make vegetables available, the city just did it in an incredibly expensive way.

      The plot you mentioned is 2.5 acres [archive.org]. The area is a low-income, mixed-use area with primarily commercial and dense residential property (row houses). A brief property search reveals that a typical residential property (1361 East Blvd) located adjacent to the farm is .262 acres and has an annual property tax bill of $1179. There are six condominiums in that building which have estimated value of about $115,000 each. Counting only the tax revenue, not the land itself or any possible value of the demolished buildings, the city is subsidizing this farm to the amount of $11,249 per year. Amortizing the value of a similar condo building over 30 years would yield an additional $23,000 per year, but if we assume the building is a loss, you would have to actually construct the new building, so let's cut it in half and say $11,500 per year in lost rent. This farm costs the city approximately $22,750 per year - just for land.

      Cleveland Crops doesn't publish their farm productivity, so I used these values [wisc.edu] for small farm productivity, classifying the property as a market garden (as it consists of separate 1 acre and 1.5 acre plots), which qualify as market garden scale either together or separately. These farms, at average productivity, would produce $15,623 per acre or approximately $39,000 per year worth of crops. However, these farms also have $9,959 per acre per year of operating expenses (mostly labor). This is a total of approximarely $24,900 in operating costs.

      The total cost of the farm, then, including land and operating expense, is $47,647, and it produces $39,000 per year worth of crops. This farm loses $3459 per year per acre ($8,647 per year total). Oops. And before you say "but, at large scales, farms would be more productive," that's actually the reverse of true. Per the study I cited, larger farms are more productive relative to labor costs, but not by land area. To merely break even, the total annual cost of land (and all other depreciation, such as machinery) has to average out to $5,664 per acre per year at this scale. At large scale, it needs to be $3,757 per acre per year.

      I'm not going to bother finding stats for this, but, uh, you can't get city land for $3757 per acre per year, nor even $5,664 - and that's already excluding other depreciation, and assuming the costs of labor and other resources such as water remain constant relative to rural areas! (They wouldn't). Even with highly favorable assumptions, the farm is still a huge money loser. The bigger you make these farms, the more money they lose. It only appears to work because the government subsidizes it with free land - normally the biggest cost in urban areas.

      It might be possible to consider this specific program a success because of its impact on the social fabric of the area, or as a jobs program (although the project's own site admits that its jobs are not popular, even in a low-income area). Ideally, though, your jobs programs would not lose so much money. You might be better off with universal basic income. And it's certainly not a model for large-scale urban farming.

      And there are a whole host of other problems completely ignored that come into play in large scales. More urban farms means more demand for city land, driving up prices even further. The space they take up increases sprawl. Demand for water is a huge problem in cities - a severe resource shortage in some regions, and more of an engineering challenge in others, but it can't just be overlooked. Many farming operations create bad smells or pollution problems that are less severe in rural areas. And the people that want to be farmers are not usually the people that want to live in cities, and vice versa, causing labor shortages or higher costs.

      So urban farming in general is a complete nonstarter, but maybe rooftop gardens can work. After all, that's real estate that isn't really being used (although your average commercial or apartment building roof actually has quite a bit of necessary machinery up there). These small-scale operations could potentially be quite productive per land area, but also very expensive, due to the low labor productivity and higher cost of labor (and water, and other resources) in the city. We can probably have rooftop gardens when we have better automation to do most of the work without human labor. They would probably contribute only a tiny fraction of the total food consumed by the city, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be done at all.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:43AM (2 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:43AM (#800843)

        You seem to have forgotten a key aspect of all this, which is that if the garden does not exist, one of two things happens:
        1. The city leaves the condemned crackhouses that were there standing.
        2. The acreage sits vacant, and the city has to pay someone to come in and mow the grass.

        It's already a loss. The gardening program makes it less of a loss. Which would you rather have next door to you, a crackhouse or a garden?

        The economics of Cleveland real estate are very very different from, say, San Francisco: Most land isn't very valuable in Cleveland. There's tons of empty land in fairly good locations which in a more prosperous city would have been snapped up and developed a long time ago. Between doing nothing with it, and employing otherwise unemployed people to work it and grow crops, I'd say that's a pretty good decision.

        There's also efforts to set up farmer's markets and fresh food imports into this area, so it's not like they're neglecting the prospect of bringing in vegetables.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:15PM (1 child)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:15PM (#801007) Journal

          There was a time when a Farmer's Market excited me. Fresh, wholesome food, at less than wholesale prices - beautiful! In recent years, farmer's markets seem to be mostly ripoffs. The fresh food is sold at grocery store prices, no bulk sales or bulk discounts. There are mostly craft items available, at exorbitant prices, whether they be woolen goods, soaps, lotions, maybe cotton goods. And, baked goods. True, the baked goods are mostly better than anything the grocers sell, but they are priced right up there with the best of a grocer's offerings.

          The livestock auctions today meet my expectations of a farmer's market, more than a farmer's market does.

          Maybe that's just a local phenomenon. I can't really say, since I don't travel much anymore.

          --
          ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday February 15 2019, @04:17AM

            by Thexalon (636) on Friday February 15 2019, @04:17AM (#801393)

            The main advantage of farmer's markets is that because the farmer is the retailer, they get to keep much more of what you pay. Also, in really busy farmer's markets where there a whole bunch of farms selling the same stuff, you get market competition (sometimes even in real-time) keeping quality up and prices down.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:47PM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:47PM (#800995) Journal

        You seem to have justified the elimination of all city and county parks. Paying someone to maintain land on which no one pays taxes is a total loss, is it not?

        --
        ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:28PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:28PM (#800742)

    Questions: when I was young, you didn't plant food near roads or alleys, because of leaded gas. Is that lead still there? Are there other urban environmental chemicals which might be problematic, nowadays? In the smoggiest days in Beijing, would tomatoes in that air be just as fit to eat afterwards?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by fustakrakich on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:04PM

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:04PM (#800751) Journal

      In the smoggiest days in Beijing, would tomatoes in that air be just as fit to eat afterwards?

      They'll produce a nice smoky flavored barbecue sauce.

      --
      La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:14PM (#800753)

      It probably depends a lot on the specific plant. Some soak up way more heavy metals than others, and where they store them is different too. If all that lead goes into the already poisonous leaves of the tomato, does it even matter?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:51PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:51PM (#800770)
      There is no added lead in gas since 1995.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:48AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:48AM (#800806)

        Has it stuck around all this time?

        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:47AM (1 child)

          by Thexalon (636) on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:47AM (#800846)

          Yes. What did you expect it to do? It's not like lead is engaged in radioactive decay or something: The problem with lead poisoning is entirely due to chemistry, specifically being almost but not quite like iron, which means it doesn't do the same jobs as iron in the body and prevents iron from doing its job.

          --
          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:25PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:25PM (#801076)

            So it stuck around.

            > What did you expect it to do?

            Well, I expected it to stick around, as a heavy metal in soil. But then someone else posted:

            > There is no added lead in gas since 1995.

            So I thought, well! Maybe there's processes I don't know about which, in 25y, might leech or otherwise extract lead from topsoil.

            Can you see why I would keep asking, without assuming either way? I'm not a soil scientist, and wanted to know. And some troll, maybe?, tried to mislead by stating the 1995 date, which implies an answer (oh it's been decades! it's probably gone) which is untrue (according to you).

            The since-1995 comment was either an attempt to sow misinformation, or a total tangent? Lame.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:45AM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:45AM (#800805) Journal

      Raised beds take care of that problem. Composting eliminates the need for fertilizer. It's surprisingly easy to do.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13 2019, @10:18PM (#800755)

    The solution is to get rid of all the bad stuff in food and put indigestible plastic harvested from the city landscape in there instead.

  • (Score: 2) by fadrian on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:08PM

    by fadrian (3194) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:08PM (#800779) Homepage

    Don't you mean "Improve Food Security in Our Cities"

    --
    That is all.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:15AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:15AM (#800797)

    Farming takes land, lots of it, water, lots of it, and sunlight, lots of it. The two things in shortest supply in cities are land and water. Inside buildings, sunlight is also in short supply. The only worse place for farming than cities is maybe in mine shafts, although Antarctica is close (plenty of land, but not enough sunlight and less water than you'd expect). If you want to hang a vegetable garden in your apartment window, that's fine, but expecting any sort of large-scale food production is just plain dumb.

    It's not a good idea no matter what old buildings you can repurpose. Abandoned buildings should be converted to housing or commercial space. But some governments prefer homelessness to housing [youtube.com], forcing the buildings to stay empty.

    Just another ridiculous idea brought to you by the same people that thought solar roads [greentechmedia.com] were a good idea.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:50AM (2 children)

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:50AM (#800807) Journal

      Not all food crops need full sun.

      There are operations in abandoned buildings that grow valuable crops like microgreens using artificial light. Many agricultural areas grow crops in greenhouses (hothouses) to extend the growing season; it's essentially the same thing.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:15AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:15AM (#800834)

        Greenhouses are about controlling temperature and humidity, they use natural light.

        I guess you saw this article [gizmodo.com]? FarmedHere shut down two years ago. Electric bills too high.

        Like, it's biologically possible to grow food indoors. Nobody is disputing that. It's just a bad idea.

        Funny, isn't it, that mostly the same people that claim to want to reduce emissions from energy use want to take farming away from natural solar power and switch it to artificial light?

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