New York Vertical Farm Aims To Instill Consumer Trust With Transparency
By Laura Drotleff| December 19, 2018
In the wake of the romaine lettuce recall, Square Roots, a Brooklyn, NY-based vertical farm with famous co-founders, has launched new labeling that will allow consumers to access the full backstory for when, where, how, and by whom their food was grown with a simple scan.
Starting today, consumers can just point their camera app at the QR code, or type in the lot number, found on all Square Roots food packaging to trace their food’s path from seed to sale, with the aim of bringing a “whole new level of transparency” to the food chain.
Co-founded by Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk (yes, Elon’s brother), Square Roots is a seed-to-sale indoor urban farm that produces a variety of fresh, pesticide-free herbs that are hand-harvested, self-packaged, and same-day-delivered to retail stores in New York City. The company was built on the premise of reconnecting city dwellers with the “comfort, nourishment, and taste of food and the people who grow it.” In addition to growing and selling herbs, Square Roots has taken it upon itself to groom next-generation farmers and future leaders in urban farming through its training platform that requires a one-year commitment to the company.
The Why Behind Square Roots’ Transparency Timeline
Musk wrote in a blog-post revealing Square Roots’ reason for launching its new scan-able label is that the operation wants to provide consumers with the transparency they’re demanding about where and how their food is grown.
Following the E. coli outbreak that resulted in the recall of all romaine lettuce grown in the U.S., consumers were put at risk, and the complexities and lack of traceability in the agricultural supply chain resulted in it taking weeks for federal agencies to track down the source of the bacteria.
Meanwhile, by growing in controlled environments, indoor food producers can provide advantages to minimizing the occurrence of outbreaks. Musk says by promoting this, Square Roots’ customers can enjoy the operation’s locally grown products “with the comfort and confidence of being able to see exactly how and where your food was grown and who grew it.”
Grown hydroponically inside climate-controlled, refurbished shipping containers, Square Roots’ end-to-end system monitors and controls every aspect of the production process, Musk says. The operation’s technology stack surrounds its farmers with data, tools, and insights to make smart decisions in real time, allowing them to sustainably produce food year-round.
Musk says while there’s a lot of excitement around the possibilities that blockchain offers for food traceability that could improve the current supply chain, consumers are turning to locally grown produce because there are fewer steps and less time involved from farm to fork.
“We, like many local farmers, don’t need to utilize blockchain architecture to give the consumer what they want today – total transparency, without the buzzword BS.”
Read Musk’s full article on the Square Roots blog, and learn about the company on its website. Stay tuned for more stories on how indoor producers are promoting food safety and transparency on GreenhouseGrower.com.