Danny Tyree

When I was a carefree lad watching “Lost in Space,” the Robinson family’s high-tech hydroponic garden sounded neat.

Now I worry that the science fiction program sowed seeds that are taking us too far away from our roots of harvest festivals and “planting by the signs.”

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “vertical farms” may be the wave of the future – if we can find enough vertical WORKERS.

Vertical farms are located close to urban areas and occupy multistory buildings. Crops are grown in water or misted air instead of soil and are bathed in carefully controlled LED lights instead of natural sunlight.

Yes, we have reached an era when Paul Harvey’s 1978 speech “So, God made a farmer” is replaced with “So, the HR Department made a farmer.”

One might assume that with all the vaunted EFFICIENCIES of vertical farms, there will be no more need for agricultural SUBSIDIES. But as one industry expert chuckled, “How amusing. No, right here next to the trays and trays of squash, we have LOBBYISTS stacked all the way to the ceiling.”

Does no one worry about a handful of vertical farmers gaining too much market share? Seinfeld wouldn’t stand a chance against the CHICKPEA NAZI.

Aren’t you concerned about artificial intelligence (AI) taking on a big role in operating vertical farms? What if the smarty-pants devices get a little too self-aware and bossy?

I’m sure there are vertical-farm employees who take great pride in their work, but for most it will be just another 9-to-5 grind. Civilization will lose something indefinably precious when there are no more fiercely independent, calloused, sunbaked, jack-of-all-trades hometown heroes praying for relief from drought or flood.

Some traditional “land spreadin’ out so far and wide” farms have passed through numerous generations. It’s not very inspirational for a vertical-farm owner to tell his progeny, “Someday all of this will be yours – unless some cybercriminal hacks the AI and the entire crop winds up in a Nigerian widow’s bank account.”

Perhaps we can rein in the breakneck pace of vertical farming via labeling. We currently have labels stigmatizing GMO crops.

The WSJ article spotlighted all the advantages of vertical farming, but it remained silent about the Big Picture of the ecosystem impact on all the bugs, birds and critters that depend on coexisting with traditional farmers.

Hey, is that a plague of dislocated locusts hitting office workers up for spare change?

“Danger, Will Robinson – danger!”

DANNY TYREE welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

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