How Healthy are Hydroponically Grown Fruits & Vegetables?

Many who are considering a hydroponic garden have a simple question. How healthy are the vegetables that the systems produce? To begin, it is important to note that all fresh vegetables and fruits (regardless of if they are grown in soil or hydroponically) are packed with nutrients vital for good health. Vegetables are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide many important health benefits to your body such as: improved digestive health, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease and even improved mental health

It is also important to keep in mind that the word “healthy” or “health” means something different to everyone. Depending on one’s individual relationship with food, how they were raised, where geographically they grew up, cultural customs, etc., the word “health” can be interpreted in various ways. 

When we talk about health, we are thinking about nutrient density through a scientific lens and we focus on the known vitamins and minerals that people need to thrive. We believe that when people have the right tools and knowledge, they will feel empowered, happier, and healthier.

Nutrition of Fruit and Vegetables

Let’s talk about peak nutritional quality of a fruit or vegetable. The minute a plant is harvested, its nutritional quality begins to decrease. Therefore, a plant will be packed full of nutrients and the most nutritious if it is consumed immediately after it is harvested. 

Unfortunately, it is estimated that fresh produce in the United States travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. So, in the five to 16 days that fresh produce is being transported, nutrient density is lost and the food becomes significantly less nutritious.

There is also news coverage and research studies around the fact that nutrient content of fruits and vegetables has been declining for years, possibly due in part to outdated land and soil management practices and climate change.

How do we get fresh produce from harvest to plate faster and ensure the food we eat is at peak nutrition density?

  • Buy local and shop at a local Farmers Market - support your local economy and know where your food is coming from
  • Grow your own vegetables - pick at peak ripeness from your personal vegetable garden
  • Grow hydroponically and control all of the elements all year long and in any location 

We strongly believe that any food you grow yourself will always be a more healthy food product than anything you buy off the grocery store shelf. But, many areas across the globe are not conducive to growing year-round due factors like cold temperatures, droughts, flooding, limited land access, and pest infestation, making indoor hydroponic systems the only option to guarantee year-round, local food production.

Hydroponically-grown foods are some of the most nutritious foods someone can eat or buy. 

  • They can be harvested and then consumed within minutes, at their peak of nutrition
  • They can be ground without the use of pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s
  • The nutrient mix can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the plant species, therefore producing crops that can be more nutrient-dense
  • Since hydroponic fruits and vegetables are grown in protective environments, they suffer less from natural stress factors. This means that they can sometimes contain even more vitamins than soil-grown vegetables at the time of harvest.

How to Grow Healthy Hydroponic Vegetables

Growing hydroponically is a method of growing plants without soil in a nutrient-rich water solution. With a hydroponic farming system, vegetables, fruits, and plants can be grown year-round in an optimal environment because the grower controls all that plants need - the temperature and humidity, light, precise nutrient supply, and eventually the harvest. When growing hydroponically, we can give plants sunlight, but not too much sunlight. We can give plants the exact amount of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that they need for optimal growth and yield. In hydroponic systems, plants receive what they would naturally get outdoors, but the grower is able to optimize and tailor to the plant's needs in order to produce top-quality produce. 

In many ways, plants are similar to people - they need to eat well and have the right kind of shelter to meet their full potential. If a plant is given an ideal, clean environment it will be happy, healthy, and it will grow faster. On average, lettuce growing outdoors takes 60-72 days from seed to harvest, yet lettuces grown hydroponically in a Flex Farm need 28 days from seed to harvest.  

The crops that thrive in hydroponic systems are: leafy greens, herbs, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, and peppers - foods that perish very quickly. With the ability to control the plant’s environment and harvest at its peak, hydroponically-grown vegetables can go from harvest to plate within minutes. No nutrients are lost in hydroponic growing due to excessive transportation miles or improper storage, making them among the healthiest fresh foods available. For foods that can’t be consumed immediately, they can be harvested, kept dry, and stored in the refrigerator for four or more weeks since their environment is controlled along the way and very efficient. No gasses or preservatives are part of the hydroponic harvesting and storing equation, but they often are in mass production and transportation of fresh food. 

It has been determined that hydroponically-grown vegetables are high in nutrient content and uber local and fresh, but another important thing to recognize is that hydroponic growing is also good for the planet. In addition to the absence of GMOs, pesticides and herbicides, indoor hydroponic farming requires minimal water and energy resources, eliminates food transportation miles, and produces almost zero food waste due to the quality and shelf-life of the produce. In 2023, our Flex Farms had the capacity to save 4.6 million food miles, 567 thousand pounds of food waste, 12 million kWh of CO2, and 32 million gallons of water in communities across the globe. Hydroponic growing is good for the people and good for the planet.

It can be a bit tricky to know exactly how healthy any fruits and vegetables are, but when grown on-site in a controlled environment, harvested at peak, and consumed soon thereafter, we cannot think of fresher or more nutrient-dense foods. At the end of the day, it comes down to the grower and his or her attention to detail. If the grower takes excellent care of the plants and ensures they have everything they need for optimal health and growth, the plants will grow faster and be of higher quality, regardless of which agriculture method is used. Go out and find yourself your favorite local grower or seasoned hydroponic farmer and enjoy your fresh, local produce. 

Introducing the Flex Farm

Fork Farms offers the most efficient, scalable, and transformative indoor, vertical hydroponic technology on the planet.

How To Get Started?

Our most popular product, the Flex Farm is available for purchase directly from our website. 

  • The Flex Farm is $4,995 and can be used in spaces from classrooms, food pantries, lunchrooms, businesses, non-profits, homes, and beyond! 
  • Talk to a Team Member: If you are looking for more information, connect with one of our team members using the form and they will be in touch to talk all things Fork Farms.  
  • Buy Online: You can purchase a Flex Farm, which includes three months of growing supplies, curriculum, growing resources, community and more.