Four Food Frontiers Changing the World

The global population is relentlessly expanding and the amount of free space left for agriculture is dwindling. The solution is not to hack into the natural environment – if anything, it’s to withdraw from it and allow it to recover. The solution, rather, is to get smart, think outside the box, and start innovating. The following four food frontiers are perfect examples of just that and they are paving the way forward for a healthy and environmental and animal-friendly future.

Welcome to the Age of Aquaponics

Aquaponics is farming without the acreage. Oh, and also the pesticides, grueling dusk-to-dawn hours, and gargantuan water bill. Combining fish farming (aquaculture) and the indoor, controlled climate agriculture of plants (hydroponics), aquaponics is fast becoming a powerful solution to feeding today’s exploding populations, without putting a strain on the environment.

The fish provide the nutrient-rich water the plants need to grow and the plants filter the water for the fish. This all takes place in a closed, climate controlled environment that’s typically powered by solar energy, which optimises plant success (without the need for pesticides) and therefore yield irrespective of the weather and climate outside.

Additionally, aquaponics uses a fraction of the fertilizer, energy, labour, and water that traditional agriculture uses and has proven an exceptionally successful way to produce nutritious, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and herbs in any kind of environment, from the heart of a bustling city to the middle of a desert. The ability to set up an aquaponics farm of any size (for a family, a community, or an entire city), anywhere in the world is what has positioned this farming technique at the very frontier of all the food trends

“Aquaponics is a fascinating and sustainable method for producing healthy food with minimal impact and effort,” says Gabriel Blanchet, an MIT student and co-founder of Grove Labs. “We believe aquaponics will play a critical role in sustainably producing food in both developed and developing countries.”

Fusion Farms is pioneering aquaponics agriculture in Puerto Rico.

Salads in Space

Mizuna lettuce growing aboard the International Space Station. Source: nasa.gov.


Lasagne in a tube and vacuum-packed chicken à la king is so last century. Nowadays, astronauts in space can turn to living gardens for fresh, healthy greens. In 2002, students at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory built the Lada greenhouse and used the Russian Progress spacecraft to courier it to the International Space Station (ISS).

This space-friendly greenhouse provides the perfect growing environment for seeds placed inside wick-like structures embedded in a clay material. The clay conveys water to the roots, LED lights mimic sunshine, and fans and air conditioners create desirable temperatures and ventilation.

For now, the Lada greenhouse provides astronauts with freshly grown vegetables and leaves and, according to Gail Bingham, a senior scientist at the Space Dynamics Laboratory and lead engineer for Lada, a psychological break from the barrenness of space. “It’s really hard on the psyches of the astronauts to live in a bare container—the only living thing they encounter is the fungus in their armpits.” Charming.

The system, however, can be used anywhere and given its success in space, might offer a future food solution to colonisation on the moon or another planet!

The sky’s the limit for vertical farming

Lettuce grown in an indoor vertical farming system. Source: By Valcenteu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

In cities where there is precious little square footage available for agriculture, vertical farming is stepping in to offer an efficient and productive system for large volumes of fresh greens. This technique involves stacking growing trays or racks one above the other inside a closed, climate-controlled greenhouse. So, instead of producing a single “storey’s” harvest, as is the case with traditional agriculture, vertical farming produces multiple storeys of harvests.

The biggest indoor vertical farm in the world is located in Newark, New Jersey, and is set to produce around two million pounds of vegetables and herbs each year using a combination of LED lights and soil-less growing techniques.

Fusion Farms will combine aquaponics and vertical farming techniques to create an optimal and exponentially more productive agricultural system than any other on the island of Puerto Rico.

Animal-friendly meat

With plant-based and vegan diets becoming “all the rage”, scientists and engineers have been hard at work trying to develop a product that looks and tastes like meat but is 100% animal-free. No, we’re not talking about meat substitutes created from tofu, soy, or beans but rather a kind of protein substance created from plant materials that replicates the satisfying experience of eating meat, without sending a single animal to the slaughterhouse.

Many products have tried and failed to satiate the meat-lovers’ appetite but one of the more successful of these is called Beyond Meat, which mimics the fibrous structure of animal tissue by running a blend of plant proteins and water through an industrial extruder. The aim of these endeavours is to reduce society’s reliance on meat products and the environmental and ethical issues that come hand-in-hand with the industry.

About Fusion Farms

Fusion Farms proudly operates at the food frontier by combining elements of hydroponics, aquaculture, vertical farming, and renewable energy in a fully contained and controlled environment to grow fresh, healthy, 100% pesticide-free, and non-GMO vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Extensive scientific research on looped aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable, scalable food production, which represents an innovative advance in the way food supplies will be grown in the future.

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com.

You Are (and Feel) What You Eat!

Nutritional Psychiatry is Treating Mental Health Problems with the Right Diet

Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and the author of several books that address food and mental health, is a big fan of oysters. Not because he likes to order them off the menu but rather because they are rich in vitamin B12, which studies suggest may help to reduce brain shrinkage. Oysters are also packed with long chain omega-3 fatty acids, deficiencies of which have been linked to higher risk for suicide and depression.

Given the evident connections between nutrition, the brain, and mental health, Dr. Ramsey has largely pioneered an emerging field of medicine that prescribes food – and the nutrients that we are missing in our diet – to counteract depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The field is termed nutritional psychiatry and its practitioners, like Dr. Ramsey, together with chef and food coach Samantha Elkrief, counsel patients on how better eating can ease their particular mental health challenges.

You are, after, what you eat.

Bad diet = impaired mental health

It makes sense that any deficiency in the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that are essential to brain health would affect its function. This influence extends much further than simple performance (the ability to think quickly and efficiently, for example). It also influences our mental health. It therefore stands to reason that consuming the nutrition our brain needs to function optimally would also improve mental health. Determining the precise pathway this happens for each patient is, of course, the challenge that Dr. Ramsey has taken on.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a dominant driver of disability for Americans aged 15 to 44. And it’s Dr. Ramsey’s argument that a poor diet is a major factor contributing to this epidemic. The irony, he says, is that “most Americans are overfed in calories yet starved of the vital array of micronutrients that our brains need, many of which are found in common plant foods.”

The results of a 2017 survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 10% of adults meet the minimal daily federal recommendations for fruit and vegetables: at least one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day. Read full report here.

The usual approach to treating mental health issues is a combination of pharmacological, using prescription drugs like antidepressants, and talk therapy. The argument being made by Dr. Ramsey and other proponents of nutritional psychiatry is that the right food choices – mostly, plant-based – are an indispensible component of the treatment approach. Americans change the way they eat all the time: to slim down, lower their cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels, etc. Yet, few pay attention to diet when it comes to the organ that requires the most energy in the body: the brain.

What does a mental health friendly diet look like?

Our understanding of the impact of diet on mental functioning is in its infancy but studies are being conducted around the world on this subject and the outcomes are indicating that plant-based diets are the way to go:

A 2016 American Journal of Public Health study examined more than 12,000 Australians and found that those who increased the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate reported being happier and more satisfied with their life.

Another study of 422 young adults from New Zealand and the United States showed higher levels of mental health and well being for those who ate more fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, the same observations did not extend to those who consumed canned fruits and vegetables.

 “We think this is due to the higher nutrient content of raw fruits and vegetables, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C, which are vulnerable to heat degradation,” said Tamlin Conner, a study author and senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

In 2017, Felice Jacka, Professor of Nutritional and Epidemiological Psychiatry at Deakin University, performed one of the first randomized controlled trials to test whether diet could be used to help treat depression. In the study, the participants who were coached to follow a Mediterranean diet (rich in whole grains, legumes, seafood, and nutrient-dense leafy vegetables) for three months reported mood improvements and lower levels of anxiety. Those who received more traditional therapy showed no improvements.

“Our imaging studies show that the brains of people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet typically look younger, have larger volumes [of healthy gut bacteria], and are more metabolically active than people who eat a more typical Western diet,” said Dr. Lisa Mosconi, director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. Such brain benefits may be protective against the onset of dementia, she said.

Changes you can make today

According to Mosconi, “there is no one diet that fits all” but there are changes you can make today that will have a definite impact on whole body (and mental) health:

  • Eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods are those that have had a series of mechanical or chemical operations performed on it to change or preserve it, for example: frozen pizza, microwaveable dinners, jarred sauces and gravies, deli meats, canned fruits, etc.
  • Minimize meat and dairy. Diets high in animal products have been linked to an increased risk in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Eat more whole foods. These are plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. They include whole grains, tubers, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Fresh, fatty fish is also considered a whole food.

It’s important to remember that not everyone is the same and while a particular diet may help improve the mental health of one patient, another might require a slightly different approach. It’s also important to understand that dietary changes and improvements are considered an adjunctive (add-on) to the traditional mental health treatment approaches.

“It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful, noticing your body and noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods,” says Samantha Elkrief, the food coach who assists Dr. Ramsey.

Fusion Farms is passionate about, and supports the move towards healthy, whole food diets. For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Imports are Killing Puerto Rico and Delivering Bad Food to its Citizens

Puerto Rico is forced to import 90% of its fresh produce because its family-run farms have been destroyed by frequent hurricanes. A further lack of aid and awareness has left the agricultural sector in ruins. Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican family farmers to help solve the food crisis.

Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican family farmers to help change their fate and that of the island’s communities. Puerto Rico is facing a #foodcrisis and is forced to import 90% of its fresh produce from foreign shores, paying exorbitant amounts of money for it. Furthermore, given the often thousands of miles this produce is required to cover (#foodmiles) and the amount of time it spends in Puerto Rican customs, its often already beginning to rot by the time it arrives on grocery store shelves.

Puerto Rico is currently importing upwards of 90% of its organic produce from the United States, which travels a minimum of 1,500 miles for weeks at a time.

Food that is expensive, sub-par in quality, freshness, and nutrition, and costly to the environment: how can bad food be a problem on a fertile, tropical island like #PuertoRico? The answer, in part, is the Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that have destroyed much of the island’s agriculture. With many of these being family-run farms (and with disaster aid from the mainland being in short supply), they have been unable to recover. Consequently, Puerto Rico relies on imports from foreign shores.

Discover the devastation of Hurricane Maria (September 2017) on Puerto Rico.

Impact on Food Quality

Shipping fresh produce from abroad poses a myriad of problems, not only for U.S. citizens on Puerto Rico but also for the global environment.

Food miles: Every mile that food has to travel to get from farm to plate exhausts #greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global environmental issues like #climatechange. Purchasing fresh produce from a local farmers market comes with a price tag of only a few food miles – certainly no more than 10 or 20. Purchasing “fresh” produce from a grocery store on Puerto Rico comes with a price tag of several thousands of food miles – often 1,000, 2,000, and more!

Freshness: Travelling from the United States, Mexico, Chile, and other countries from where Puerto Rico receives its imports takes time – days and weeks. Then, when it arrives in port, it’s forced to languish in customs for further days and weeks while the usually lengthy bureaucratic processes play out. By the time Puerto Ricans gain access to this “fresh” produce, it’s often already in the beginning stages of rotting.

Nutrition: Fruits and vegetables rapidly lose their nutritional value with time. Exposure to heat, light, and oxygen causes the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients to leach or degrade, which means that by the time this produce is available for purchase, it’s lost a substantial amount of nutrition.

Spinach can lose 90% of its vitamin C content within 24 hours of harvest, and 50% of its folate and carotenoids within a week. By the time Puerto Rico receives its imports of “fresh” fruit and vegetables, it’s often WEEKS old. How nutritious is the food you’re eating?

Cost: To add insult to injury, fresh produce is substantially more expensive on Puerto Rico because it has to be imported and because the island remains under an archaic shipping law (the #JonesAct) that decrees that only American-made, owned, captained, and crewed ships may serve the island.

It’s quite clear that imports are killing Puerto Rico and delivering bad food to the U.S. citizens living here. Thankfully, there is a solution….

Fusion Farms: Bringing Whole, Locally Grown Fresh Produce to Puerto Rico

#FusionFarms aims to establish the Puerto Rico’s food sovereignty and relieve its reliance on imported fresh produce by building hurricane protected aquaponics farms on the island. Through this method of sustainable, closed environment aquaponics (CEA), this start-up farming initiative will establish a reliable, locally grown source of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish protein.

Extensive scientific research on looped aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable, scalable food production, which represents an innovative advance in the way food supplies will be grown in the future. And in few places on Earth is such a system so desperately needed as it is on Puerto Rico.

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Global Aquaponics Market To Grow at a CAGR of +11% by 2023 

Aquaponics

The latest market research report forecast by Technavio indicates that the global #aquaponics market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11% between now and 2023, representing an incremental growth of $411 million. One of the key drivers for this market is the growing inclination towards controlled environment farming in the global community.

Technavio is a leading global technology research and advisory company that focuses on emerging market trends and provides insights to help businesses identify opportunities and develop effective strategies to optimize their market positions. Their report serves as a valuable indicator that #ControlledEnvironmentFarming techniques like aquaponics is the way of the future and, for those with the necessary foresight, a potentially lucrative investment opportunity.

What is Controlled Environment Agriculture?

Controlled environment farming or agriculture (#CEA) is the process of growing plants inside a greenhouse or a grow room, where all atmospheric and environmental variables, such as humidity, temperature, nutrients, pH levels, light, etc. can be controlled. Aquaponics is one such method of CEA that leverages the natural relationship between fish and plants to grow crops all year round, out of soil, and in the nutrient-rich wastewaters produced by the fish. 

How do aquaponic systems work? Learn more.

“As aquaponics does not require soil, the plants can be grown on rooftops, rocky surfaces, and other dry areas,” explains a senior analyst at Technavio for research on agricultural equipment.

What this means is that aquaponics farming can become a successful source of fresh, healthy, sustainable food (both plant and fish protein) in most environments and remote locations on Earth, provided there is a sufficient energy and water to feed the system.

The Way Forward

The benefits of CEA are that growing conditions can be optimized to produce the best possible harvest in any environment, often without the use of pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and other undesirable additives. It also optimizes the use of space – since crops can be grown in vertical rack systems, one on top of the other – and labor, water, energy, nutrients, and cost of operating, while still producing a bountiful harvest.

In essence, controlled environment farming is the way forward for a planet that is fast becoming over-populated and running out of the fertile lands and natural food resources needed. It’s a way we can cater for the increasing food demand without further damaging the environment. In fact, it reduces our current exploitation of land and resources, while also drastically reducing food miles, our carbon footprint, and pollution.

Global aquaponics market: About the Report

The global aquaponics market research report by Technavio provides an in-depth analysis of the prominent factors influencing the market, including drivers, opportunities, trends, and industry-specific challenges. The report provides market segmentation by application (aquaculture and hydroponics), technique (Deep Water Culture (DWC), Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), and media-filled bed), and by region (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Asia-Pacific).

Acquire the global aquaponics market report here.

Another of the report’s significant findings was that the Americas held the largest share of the global aquaponics market in 2018, accounting for close to 53% share, followed by EMEA and APAC respectively. The region is expected to continue to dominate the market during the forecast period of 2018 to 2023. It also found that the market is highly fragmented with many players occupying the market share.

Fusion Farms Puerto Rico and Aquaponics

Technavio’s latest report on the global aquaponics market is particularly significant to the work start-up organization Fusion Farms is doing in #PuertoRico. Located in the beautiful Mayaguez district of Western Puerto Rico, Fusion Farms is making use of existing PRIDCO facilities to sustainably grow a year-round harvest of fresh, and 100% pesticide-free produce grown from organic seed that is high in local demand. The concrete facilities themselves are hurricane protected, which is essential on a Caribbean island that lost vast tracts of farmland to devastating hurricanes in the past few years and that continues to import upwards of 80% of its fresh produce as a result.

Learn more about the work Fusion Farms is doing.

Through its aquaponics venture, Fusion Farms aims to restore #FoodSovereignty to Puerto Rico and, should the model prove to be successful, will export the concept to similar nations across the globe; nations that are struggling to establish a local, #sustainable, and reliable harvest of fresh produce and fish protein due to environmental, political, and/or social problems.

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares to Hold Press Conference at Fusion Farms Facility

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares

With innumerable trials and obstacles safely behind them, the husband-and-wife team behind the hurricane-protected #aquaponics farming initiative, Fusion Farms, can finally celebrate a well and hard-earned success. This coming Tuesday, May 21st 2019, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander together with the island of Puerto Rico will be celebrating at a Press Conference at their pilot facility in Mayagüez, and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares will be attending.

A dream long in the making

Since their first visit to the spectacularly beautiful Caribbean island several years ago, Kendell and Lisa have dreamed about moving to #PuertoRico and establishing a sustainable agricultural initiative that would – in some way –contribute to the island’s recovery. In 2018, they made the move from San Diego, California and after more than a year of hard toil against the monumental tasks of fund-raising and interpreting government grants and incentives, and completing bank applications, they managed to secure the first Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez, a municipality in western Puerto Rico.  With the help of #PRIDCO, #USDA and the Department of Agriculture, to name a few, Fusion Farms is well on the way to pioneering a sustainable indoor agriculture model for the island.

Press Conference and Incentive Awards

The Press Conference and Incentive Awards are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 21st 2019 at 1:30 PM where community members will be able to see the vision for the indoor farm.

“We are pleased to announce that Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares is scheduled to come to the Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez,” says CEO and co-founder Kendell Lang. “He will be doing a site visit, tour of the building, presentation, and award the solar energy grant to officially welcome Fusion Farms to Puerto Rico.” “Fusion Farms is proud to be at the forefront of what the Department of Economic Development is incentivizing for innovative agriculture solutions, specifically our hurricane-protected aquaponic vertical farm.”

Also in attendance will be the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, who will be discussing their delivery of $9 million USD to the Programa de Hidroponicos (Program of Hydroponics) and Pymes Innovadoras (Innovative Small to Medium Enterprises) in an effort to advance the agriculture sector of Puerto Rico.

“Fusion Farms is excited to create jobs and work with the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Department of Agriculture. By working together, we can address the needs of the community and begin to establish food security for the island. The current incentives offered to all farmers are making it possible for agriculture to thrive,” says Lisa Jander, co-founder and Director of Operations of Fusion Farms. “We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to welcoming everyone to our new facility!”

To attend, please visit the Facebook Event page, click “Number of Spots”, and then “Reserve” to secure a spot at this ground-breaking ceremony.

About Fusion Farms

“Cultivando buena comida para buenas personas”

“Growing good food for good people”

Fusion Farms “Growing Puerto Rico”

Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of aquaculture.

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

The Jones Act: Is the 100-Year-Old Shipping Law Contributing to the Ruin of Puerto Rico?

Jones Act

In 1920, Congress passed a law designed to encourage American prosperity after World War I. Unfortunately this act has, since, had the opposite effect and in few other places is this detrimental effect felt more profoundly than the unincorporated American territory and island nation of #PuertoRico.

The Jones Act as it was called – named after its sponsor, Senator Wesley Jones, from Washington State – has allegedly done immeasurable damage to Puerto Rico’s economy. If a figure were to be supplied, it would be in the region of $1.5 billion, according to an article by Caribbean Business.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the #JonesAct, its economic and environmental impact, and what’s currently been done to undo this outdated legislature.

What is the Jones Act and why is it Damaging Puerto Rico?

Almost 100 years ago, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 was passed by Congress and enacted into law. Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act is known as the Jones Act and it stated that all goods transported by water between ports in the United States and its territories (of which Puerto Rico is one), be carried on American-flagged ships that are American-built, American-owned, and are substantially crewed by American citizens.

The intention of this act was to encourage American trade, commerce, prosperity and naval prowess after World War I, which makes sense in theory. However, #theJonesAct has had several unintended consequences. Predominantly, the costs of transporting merchandise from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico in American built, flagged, owned, and run vessels are much higher. Additionally, Jones Act ships aren’t always available and are not always able to supply the goods/volume of goods Puerto Rico requires.

Overall, the Jones Act has:

  • Reduced waterborne coastwise trade (because it’s ships are so expensive)
  • Harmed the environment (because there is a preference for cheaper land freight, as well as trade originating from further afield, from foreign countries),
  • Measurably harmed the economy of Puerto Rico, not only because of steeper consumer prices but also because there aren’t always Jones Act vessels available to ship the goods Puerto Rico needs to import.

In spite of this, this outdated law remains in effect and continues to limit the ability to ship products by water throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

Steep price tag for Puerto Ricans

The Jones Act: a Legacy of Economic Ruin for Puerto Rico

Where other U.S. states have the option to transport produce by land, Puerto Rico, being an island, is forced to make use of Jones Act ships, should it wish to ship produce in from the mainland. According to two independent investigations, this has cost Puerto Rico $1.5 billion in higher prices for goods, as well as in its effect on competitiveness and lost jobs.

One study titled The Impact of the Jones Act on Puerto Rico was the first on the Jones Act following Hurricane Maria and was commissioned by a coalition of Puerto Rican government, hospitality, legal, and other institutions, including the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA in Spanish acronym), the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, the United Retailers Association, and the Puerto Rico Bar Association.

The report was compiled by Advantage Business Consulting (ABC), which was hired to investigate the true cost of transportation from both the mainland United States and the various international ports with which Puerto Rico frequently trades. ABC sent out a survey and of the companies contacted, a significant 70 percent responded, which demonstrates the keen interest of importers with this issue. The results of the survey were surprising, although not entirely unexpected.

Puerto Rico pays 151% more to transport goods from American ports than from foreign ports

What it found was that transporting containers from the United States costs, on average, 2.5 times or 151 percent more than transporting from foreign ports. For example: shipping a container from the U.S. East Coast to Puerto Rico costs $3,063 but shipping the same container to nearby Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic costs only $1,504; and to Kingston, Jamaica, $1,607. This is because they’re not using Jones Act ships. These figures were arrived at after corresponding adjustments for size of container and distance.

Using this data, ABC then calculated an impact equivalent to a Jones Act tax of 7.2 percent on food and beverages alone, which translates into an increase of $367 million in additional costs to the local economy. In other words, food and beverages on Puerto Rico cost $300 and $107 more respectively per person, thanks to the Jones Act.

Studies peg cost of Jones Act on Puerto Rico at $1.5 billion

Further Jones Act limitations

The second independent study performed was done by the New York firm, John Dunham & Associates (JDA). Having worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority of Philadelphia, and the Ports and Commerce Department of the City of New York, Chief economist John Dunham has extensive experience in the maritime transport sector.

Their report read: “All the calculations concluded that there was a significant impact. From this analysis, the firm chose and adapted the sources to make their own recommendation, concluding water transportation costs to Puerto Rico are $568.9 million higher, and prices are $1.1 billion higher than they would be without the Jones Act limitations.”

A further impact of this is on jobs for Puerto Ricans.

“If this is the case, Puerto Rico has 13,250 fewer jobs than it would have were there a free market for ocean freight,” says John Dunham. “Those jobs would pay residents $337.3 million in wages and would result from nearly $1.5 billion in increased economic activity.”

He also said that overall tax revenue would be $106.4 million more were the island to be exempt from the Jones Act’s provisions.

Environmental considerations

The Jones Act doesn’t only deliver a blow to business’, consumers’, and the economy’s pockets… owing to this legislation, Puerto Rican businesses have limited viable shipping options, which has compelled them to purchase more from foreign countries. In fact, many Puerto Rico companies opt to import goods from Canada rather than from the United States in order to avoid the cost premium from the Jones Act. Additionally, the island, imports almost no heavy cargo from the U.S. since ships are not available to carry it. And with goods having to cover longer distances by other modes of travel, particularly land transport, Puerto Rico’s #carbonfootprint is unavoidably large.

The road forward

“With the results of these two economic studies, we have enough data to demand that we be heard here as well as in the United States Congress,” says president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Kenneth Rivera. “The numbers are clear, the impact is devastating for the economy of our island and even more so being as vulnerable to natural disasters such a as #HurricaneMaria.”

José Salvatella, president of the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, has also said that Puerto Rico’s food security is directly tied to its “extreme dependence” on imports: “We had great difficulties in meeting our clients’ needs, to the point that one of our partners had to import food by plane at a cost 10 times higher than what it would have cost by sea due to the lack of service.”

And so, rather than achieving any of the goals set forth in 1920, the Jones Act has severely hampered the development of the merchant marine and shipbuilding industries in the United States. It’s time for change.

It is Fusion Farm’s mission to bring about change by re-establishing local agriculture (in hurricane-protected facilities) and reducing Puerto Rico’s dependence on food imports.

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

Some call us crazy

“San Diego to Puerto Rico? Why? Are you nuts? Are you going to give up your citizenship? What about medical insurance, international calls, social security and crime? Do they have power yet? Does anyone there speak English? Can you drink the water?”

Yep, we got them all.

Yet, here we are dispelling myths daily and embracing the challenges.

We chose Puerto Rico. We were not forced to move here, running from the law or evading (but definitely avoiding) taxes. We are still US citizens and our friends and family from the States don’t need a passport to come visit us.

There are 2 reasons we moved here: personal and professional.

Let’s start with personal.

When we decided to relocate to Puerto Rico from San Diego to start Fusion Farms, our announcement was met with quite a few raised eyebrows. After all, San Diego is one of the greatest cities on earth, right?

Don’t get me wrong! We loved San Diego and enjoyed most of what it had to offer until the island of Puerto Rico pulled at our heartstrings compelling us to take the leap.

I believe pictures speak a thousand words so below is the view we wake up to every morning. And let me mention that beachfront real estate is a fraction of the price it would cost in San Diego.

Our “office” view

Most of what we need is within 3 miles. There is no stoplight in our town and yet Home Depot and Walmart are only 30 minutes away.  We have plenty of good restaurants and snorkeling is perfect without a wetsuit. We did not choose to live in a gated community in Dorado or San Juan. We chose the west side of the island where sunsets and surfing are the norm.

Yesterday, we went down the 115 affectionately called, “Mango Alley,” to collect some Ataulfo mangos (Champagne mangos) that ripened and fell to the ground like manna for the community to enjoy. Locals and tourists with their grocery bags line the road looking for the best specimens; it reminded me of Easter egg hunts and the excitement when you find the perfect one that someone else overlooked.

Ataulfo mangos (Champagne mangos)

We have been residents for only 5 months and yet we feel a deep connection to the culture and the way of life. We have been embraced here in a way that is not common anywhere esle that we have experienced in the States. Puerto Ricans are warm, friendly, inviting, and patient – especially with our pathetic attempt at Spanish.

Island life provides a unique juxtaposition of being geographically disconnected from the States and yet still being a US citizen. Currently, the United States has sixteen territories, five of which are permanently inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. They are classified as unincorporated territories so no passport is needed to travel from the States.

On March 2, 1917, the Jones–Shafroth Act was signed, collectively making Puerto Ricans United States citizens without rescinding their Puerto Rican citizenship.

So, how does that work with taxes, voting and all the other rights and responsibilities of US citizens?

Let’s be clear. We are not CPA’s, lawyers or politicians.  We are Urban Farmers here to help the island obtain food sovereignty and give Puerto Ricans an advantage. In our research on Puerto Rico, we have learned of a great many “incentives” that helped to make our contribution and relocation more feasible. We are not hoping to educate people on all the tax advantages and if you are interested in why we pay ZERO US Federal Income tax, you can read about how that works through ACT 22. What I will say is that when we did the math comparing taxes in Puerto Rico vs. California, the results were astounding…and extremely motivating.

Aftermath of Hurricane Maria – September 2017

Puerto Rico has its share of challenges.

On September 19, 2017, Hurricane Maria obliterated the island. It was the worst hurricane in almost a century. Though the facts around the impact are not always consistent, the devastation was clear and in many parts of the island, recovery is still ongoing.

But, the island was in trouble long before Maria; the utilities, infrastructure, government and economy were already circling the train. The two facts that really grabbed our attention most were these:

  1. Thousands of people have left the island in search of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate hovers around 8.5% and is projected to trend around 11.20% in 2020.
  2. Over 90% of the food on the island is imported and the quality is subpar and lack nutrition due to the food miles.

“We didn’t move to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the island; we moved to Puerto Rico to help give the island an advantage.”

These were the biggest factors driving our decision to move here – create jobs and grow healthy, fresh, all natural produce in a #HurricaneProtected #Aquaponics #VerticalFarm built in a vacant warehouse. Pretty simple concept; super ambitious (and capital intensive) project.

Puerto Rico is working hard to bring businesses to the island by offering plethora of incentives. They are looking for anything that will grow the economy and reduce the unemployment rate:

Along with Act 22 for residency and personal reasons, there are a number of other reasons for people to invest in Puerto Rico:

For us, it was simple: Good food for good people.

Can we pull this off? Not without the help of investors and donations. To date, we have:

  • The team with all the experience essential for success
  • The interns from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez ready to put their knowledge to work
  • Multiple incentives from the Government, PRIDCO and the USDA
  • A 11,500 square foot building on an acre and a half.
  • Been awarded a $250K solar grant
  • Raised $40,000!

We are grateful for all the support we have received and continue to experience. We have pushed through the challenges that island life brings working many 12 hour days to get this project off the ground and growing…literally.

We have had many victories along the way and the setbacks have not dampened our enthusiasm or resolve.

There is no plan “B.”

Fusion Farms is not just a dream. It is a reality and one we are proud to share. If you want to be a part of our journey, please continue to follow us, share our story with others and visit our Online Public Offering Campaign page to read about the investment opportunity.

Thank you again for your interest in seeing Fusion Farms succeed. We have a long way to go and we have our eye on the goal. On behalf of Puerto Rico, muchas gracias!

Puerto Rico – Produce Safety Alliance

For the past 2 days, we have attended a certification program on Food Safety. The information is vital to the health of a farm as well as the consumers who benefit from what the farm produces.

Much of the emphasis is on traditional farming and all of the potential contamination events that can happen in the field and post harvest in spite of best efforts. The soil, the water to irrigate the vegetation and even the process to wash the produce can provide a perfect environment for pathogens to take hold. With the expanse of so many traditional farms along with the rate at which bacteria, viruses and pests can multiply, it is an ongoing battle that keeps farmers working around the clock.

The beauty of indoor vertical farming is that you can control the environment in a way that minimizes the risk and produces consistency and predictability in an otherwise random industry. The water can be tested, filtered, naturally enhanced with nutrients, and even cooled to ensure success; something that would be impossible on a 100-acre farm. In hydroponics and aquaponics, the roots are not grown in soil but in water where the nutrients flow evenly reaching every part of the root structure evenly on each and every plant.

Growing in soil is another matter. Vegetation planted in the soil is only as good as what the roots come in contact with. If there is nutrient depletion, mold spores or an underground pest, it will be extremely difficult to identify and prevent damage or crop loss.

Cultivation Agriculture Plantation Lettuce

Outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens have increased as risk factors in traditional farming and the need for food safety becoming more critical. Unfortunately, some of the efforts to eliminate the risks have caused more than their fair share of consequences, thanks to GMO’s and pesticides (which is a post for another time.)

That is precisely why hydroponics and aquaponics are becoming a focal point for the future of agriculture. Consumers are more educated and they are paying more attention to the “condition” their food is in when it hits their dinner plates.

People are starting to care where their food is coming from and the influence under which it is grown. Consumers are starting to embrace the concept that local food is better for you – whether traditionally grown or hydroponically. What is important to realize, however, is what the food was exposed to (locally or not) from seed to harvest and beyond.

Food safety is a big responsibility for all farmers. But to what end will farmers go to make sure their produce is safe? Best practices are not always the cheapest; indoor vertical farming is costly up front but the results and long-term benefits are far more consistent and nutritious than what can be achieved outdoors, in most cases. Outdoor organic farmers face far more stringent regulations and practices, not to mention the cost involved. It is not an easy business.

Investing in hydroponics and aquaponics is a progressive bet that Controlled Environment Agriculture will change the way we grow, distribute and eat meals that come from sustainable, healthy, chemical-free, non-GMO produce with a low carbon footprint. 

Now THAT’s a happy meal!

Aquaponics is the Answer

Fish poop is powering a new agricultural model that can feed Puerto Rico’s hurricane-stricken population while using less water and less land.

Outside, the rain hammers against the facility roof and the wind howls with intense voracity, tearing up power lines and ripping the roofs off unprotected homes. Within the reinforced concrete walls of the PRIDCO building, however, thousands upon thousands of heads of lettuce proliferate and thrive, wholly unaware of the carnage going on outside. Here, fed by nutrient and nitrate-rich water and renewably sourced power, agriculture can continue irrespective of the weather. The island’s people may lose power in their homes; they may even lose the roofs on their houses…but they will have food.

This is the model being put forward by Fusion Farms, an organization striving to bring hurricane protected Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) aquaponic farms to the Caribbean island nation of Puerto Rico.

Learn more about Fusion Farms’ mission to establish a food sovereign future for Puerto Rico.

The solution proposed by Fusion Farms

In September 2017, Puerto Rico’s existing problems – lack of infrastructure, unreliable power grid, importing vast majority of its food – became exponentially worse with the landfall of Category 5 Hurricane Maria. And without the necessary organization, relief, and support, the nation struggles – to this day – to get back up on its feet.

What Puerto Rico needs is a protected, local food source that can thrive irrespective of the weather – providing the island’s population with fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and fish that are available all year round. And so, Fusion Farms proposes to build a series of hurricane protected, climate controlled aquaponics farms.

What is an aquaponic farm?

Aquaponics is a sustainable method of farming that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). It is an elegantly simple agricultural model that leverages the existing natural relationship between various components of the food chain, namely plants and fish. In an aquaponic system, plants are grown in a closed environment fed by nutrient rich water (not soil).

This nutrient rich water is created by fish (i.e. fish poop), which is fed through the vertically stacked tiers of plants. The plants filter out the nutrients and nitrates, thereby cleaning the water, which is then returned to the fish tanks. In this way, an aquaponics farm is one great big loop that requires lesser inputs than a traditional farm and is certainly far less vulnerable to external influences.

A Deep Water Culture hydroponics system where plants grow directly into the nutrient rich water without a soil medium. Plants can be spaced closer together because the roots do not need to expand outwards to support the weight of the plant. Source: Bryghtknyght – Own work, CC BY 3.0.

The benefits of aquaculture

Harvest 365 days a year

There are no seasons in a controlled environment facility and so plants and fish can be grown and harvested 365 days a year. Furthermore, and according to the resident scientist and lead aquaponics technician at EcoLife Conservation, Martin Niwinski, since nutrients are constantly available to plants’ roots, plants can grow up to 25% faster than in soil.

Using less water

By recycling its water, aquaponics requires substantially less water than traditional farming. This is especially beneficial in the parts of Puerto Rico that receive lower rainfall, as well as in other water-restricted communities and countries around the world.

Requiring less land and conserving indigenous vegetation

Through carefully constructed systems, plants can be grown in vertical tiers – one on top of the other (as shown in the 3D rendering below). This means that much less land is required to produce exponentially more produce, thus negating the need to clear indigenous vegetation to accommodate farmlands.

3D rendering of vertical racks of hydroponically grown plants inside Fusion Farms’ proposed facility.

100% Pesticide free produce

In a closed environment aquaponics farm, both fish and plants are less vulnerable to external influences, so pesticides aren’t necessary. In any case, fish are extremely sensitive to chemicals so you couldn’t even hope to maintain such a system using pesticides.

You can grow what you like

Many of the fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens that are popular in the United States need to be imported to Puerto Rico because they do not grow well in the island’s tropical climate. With a controlled climate facility, Fusion Farms will be able to grow the produce that is in the greatest demand.

For a sustainable future

Currently, Puerto Rico imports a staggering 90% of its fresh produce, which has to travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to get to grocery store shelves. By establishing a reliable, local source of fresh produce, Fusion Farms will eliminate the need to import food, thereby contributing to a much more sustainable future.

Overcoming Challenges

There are many challenges to funding, setting up, building, and running an aquaponics farm, especially on the island of Puerto Rico. But the team at Fusion Farms has already devised the answers to many of these challenges. By combining elements of hydroponics, aquaculture, and renewable energy in a fully contained and controlled environment, Fusion Farms could potentially solve many of the crises facing the island nation today.

Extensive scientific research on looped aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable, scalable food production, which represents an innovative advance in the way food supplies will be grown in the future!

You can help Fusion Farms establish a food sovereign future for Puerto Rico and many nations like it by investing in our pilot project.

Become an investor!

For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com

2019 Food Trends that Producers NEED to Pay Attention to…

There’s a food revolution going on and producers that don’t keep up with the times will find their share of the market slipping between their fingers.

With the relentless passage of time, advances in technology, and spread of environmental and #health awareness come a myriad of ever-shifting trends that affect the foods and produce we are prepared to put in our grocery baskets. These trends range from packaging, which must be environmentally friendly or it won’t be supported, to a growing preference for local producers and suppliers – the fewer the “food miles”, the better. What these trends tend to have in common are the betterment of the environment and the increasing support of local farmers.

Here’s what we expect to see in 2019….

Don’t forget the “Baby Boomers”

2019 Food trend: as Baby Boomers continue to embrace technology and educate themselves in the options available to them, they too will become savvier in their food choices.

Baby Boomers might be approaching their 70’s in age, but their increasing grasp of technology is empowering them to make more intelligent food choices, as is the case with the younger generations. Given that they constitute 25% of the population (and have the most buying power of all the generations), they matter enormously as a target market.

Innovations in packaging

Molded pulp uses recycled newsprint to form package components. Here, researchers are molding packaging from straw. Source: Peggy Greb, Public Domain. 

2019 Food trend: we expect to see the continued development of innovative, environmentally friendly packaging options that ensure fresher produce.

Today’s consumer demands food that is fresh, ripe, and unprocessed but also delivered in packaging that is made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable materials. In order for grocery stores to keep shoppers happy, they need to stock produce that has a longer shelf life and that has a lesser environmental impact.

Local shopping the “in” thing

2019 Food trend: more and more consumers are favoring locally grown, fresh produce over imported, pre-packaged, processed goods.

The fewer the miles food has to travel to get on the plate, the better. It means less transport-related pollution and fresher produce. This is a concept referred to as #foodmiles – why pay for vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles and waited several days in customs, when you can buy something that was harvested from the ground that very morning from a local farmer’s market? Within grocery stores and supermarkets, it is also preferable to see that the fresh produce is locally sourced.

If distributors turn their attention to local producers, they won’t only help to stimulate the local economy, but will also contribute enormously to a healthier environment.

Traceable and transparent

2019 Food trend: the demand for organic products peaked in 2018. Now, the focus shifts to accommodate traceability and transparency, which essentially helps consumers understand where their food comes from, how it was grown/treated, and how many miles it has had to travel, etc.

There are proliferating numbers of software programs and apps that allow consumers to trace the origins of their food right down to the plot of land it was grown on and the chemicals that were used to treat it during its growth cycle. Some apps help the public determine which producers operate sustainably, while others lead them to the best local alternatives in an effort to reduce food miles.

We are moving into an era in which the consumer wants to see more than just the product of #agriculture – they also want to see the story behind it and do their bit to contribute by making the most sustainable, environmentally friendly food choices possible.

The public holds the agricultural sector accountable

2019 Food trend: the agricultural sector needs to prioritize transparency, sustainability, and humane food practices or else suffer the penalties.

Last year, the emphasis was on getting food produce from farm to market in the most environmentally friendly way possible. This year, the pressure is on the agricultural sector to further reduce their carbon footprint and #greenhouse gas emissions, while improving the quality and freshness of their produce. They are also expected to be as humane as possible in the processing of animal products, with buzzwords being “free-range”, “grass-fed”, etc.

Food producers who don’t adhere to these pressures risk more than just a loss of consumer support; they might also face penalties and fines in the future.

A better, healthier food future

Locally sourced produce and farmers markets have become increasingly popular. Source: www.Pixabay.com

2019’s Food trends, which will hopefully extend into the coming decade, aren’t just reserved for Millennials and hipsters. Technology, food apps, and the vast and limitless reach of the Internet have empowered consumers across multiple generations to make more intelligent food choices. These are the everyday decisions that will help to clean up the environment by reducing food miles and eliminating plastic packaging; hold the agricultural sector accountable by demanding greater sustainability, humane practices, and transparency; limiting food wastage; and empowering local farmers, communities, and economies.

Fusion Farms in Puerto Rico aims to incorporate these food trends and practices in our indoor, hurricane-protected #aquaponics agricultural model, not only here in the beautiful Mayagüez district on the western portion of the island, but anywhere and everywhere our model is adopted.


For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or email Info@FusionFarmsPR.com