Introduction to Backyard Fish Farming and Aquaponics

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Introduction to Backyard Fish Farming and Aquaponics

 The price of food is rising. We all feel it. Every trip to the store seems to bring us less and less for the same amount of money. We may not like it, but let's face it, we've gotten used to it. But that that's not the only price that is rising. So is the price we pay for the methods used to produce the food that graces our grocery store shelves.

   Our food looks nice: fresh and wholesome. When you walk into a grocery everything looks like it was just picked that morning, and it looks delicious. But first impressions can be deceiving. Tomatoes aren't just supposed to look great. They are supposed to have flavor, not taste like cardboard. But fruits and vegetables are picked not when ripe, but when they are still green.1 They are ripened in trucks using ethylene gas to make sure that they look good when they arrive at the store.2It may be efficient, but it makes them taste pretty awful. 

    Our foods are often farmed with pesticides that remain as residues on them. Residues we sometimes ingest. And the way we farm, with industrial scale mechanization, often strips our soils and encourages it to wash away. Our meat isn't grown on a farm when a farmer carefully tends a flock. No, our meat is grown in massive industrial pens, with animals squashed together to optimize floor space. We feed them low grade antibiotics, not to prevent disease outbreaks in such overcrowded conditions, but to get growth benefits.3That may be cost effective, but it promotes bacterial antibiotic resistance not just in the animals, but in the people who consume the antibiotics when they eat their dinner.

    The seafood we consume is farmed in ways that generate extreme pollution to the natural environment, causing even more damage than the overfishing that forced fish farming into existence in the first place. 4 Shrimp and salmon are farmed in massive pens which are constantly overfed to promote growth. But that overfeeding causes pollution to our rivers and bays and chokes them with algae. Tilapia, America's favorite fish is commonly farmed oversees in abysmal conditions. The ponds in which they are raised are often filled with raw livestock sewage.5 Why? To cut costs and bring Tilapia to the US cheaply.

    But what if it didn't have to be that way? What if you could grow your own food in your backyard? What if you could not just raise your own vegetables, grow your own fruit, but raise your own seafood? What if we told you that not only is it possible, but it's cost effective?

    It's true. You can raise your own food. And you don't need a huge backyard to do it. Chances are, you can do it in the backyard you have now. And you can do it on a budget that won't hurt your wallet. And best of all, it's actually pretty easy.

1 University of California Cooperative Extension, Post-Harvest Handling Systems: Fruit Vegetables

2 Dawson, Gloria. The Fast Food Fruit. July 18, 2013.

3Modern Meat

4Clover, Charles. Pollution from Fish Farms as ͚Bad as Sewage͛. September, 2000.

5 Gale,Fred, and Buzby, Jane C. Imports from China and Food Safety Issues. July, 2009.