Myles Harston>LPL Interviews A-M>LPL Interviews A-J, Segment 9


duration 12:00
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Hydroponics uses a sterile water solution and chemicals to feed the plants. In aquaponics, fish water is used. In the water there is a colony of beneficial bacteria that help break down the ammonia. They use much less nitrogen than agriculture farmers use because the nutrients are so available. The hydroponic and aquaponic systems are different because the bacteria colonies get caught in the plumbing. In the south there are ponds called levee ponds that are 4 to 8 feet deep. The fish live in their own excrement. In the aquaponics system, the waste passes through a degasser and then the roots of the plants, filtering out the water. In the west they put the waste into nearby streams. Aquaponics is much healthier for the environment. It is a system that can go in desert areas and use very little water. The plants and fish are in a symbiotic relationship. Normally, hydroponic tomatoes taste bland compared to a garden tomato. However the aquaponic tomatoes have a very sweet garden grown taste. People at farmer's markets will choose their aquaponic grown tomatoes over garden grown tomatoes.
Biggest competitor for tilapia is China. They are very low priced but sacrifice quality. Miles reads from an article by Ming Huang Wong from Hong Kong Baptist University that states the Chinese fish have heavy metals, mercury, and flame retardants in the flesh. More than half of China's rivers are too polluted to serve as drinking water. Toxic Chinese fish have sickened people in 28 states. Miles sees an article similar to this twice a month. Buyers choose Chinese tilapia because of the low price. They can sell a fillet for cheaper than what Miles sells a whole fish for. He thinks the public is too focused on price instead of quality. Miles says his fish are higher quality, better tasting, less odorous. His market is people who are willing to pay more for high quality foods. His main market is around the Chicago suburbs. People downstate in Peoria and Bloomington have taken an interest.
He can take 40 to 50 pounds of fillets in half pound packages to farmer's markets in Bloomington and sell out of them in three or four hours, with people coming back the next week wanting more.