We Don't Need No Rural Hicks
My aunt sent me this article about a hydroponic gardening company in Arizona. The title is "Changing the Way We Grow Food."
This change has been coming for a long time, at least a decade. The simplest form of hydroponic gardening, the self-watering container, was a rarity in 2009. Now you can find cheap ones ($4) at Dollar General (I have a dozen of them: they work well, hold a lot of water for a container their size, and have held up over the years . . . recommended product).
The concept of vertical gardening goes back a ways. I successfully grew cucumbers on a trellis system; I failed at growing winter squash but I've been assured it can be done.
LED lights are making artificial sunlight cost-effective. I use them every spring to get seedlings ready.
So what does it add up to?
Hydroponics + vertical growing + cheap lighting = less need for rural areas.
I wrote last Wednesday that food production is one reason rural areas are important and, therefore, we need the electoral college to help preserve them. Otherwise, the federal government would simply throw all money and gear all policies to help the urban areas, and the rural areas would suffer immensely (my preferred alternative, btw, is simply to emaciate the federal government so it would be a far lesser issue, but that's Quixotic).
The ability of urban areas to sustain themselves is something to encourage. Urban agriculture is booming in Detroit and helping that blighted city. Fenway Park has Fenway Farms. Parisians for years grew their own food, in winter using a large army of cloches and horse manure for fertilizer and heat.
I even heard that urban landlords have had to impose restrictions on balcony gardening. Men, being men, are naturally competitive. It's an urge that ought to be resisted, since it's innately comparative and causes you to live by human measures instead of divine ones, but hey, it is what it is, and it was apparently putting great strain on apartment balconies as men started hauling more and more soils and fertilizers to their balconies to out-do one another.
It's a great thing.
It also weakens my argument for the electoral college, but it doesn't eliminate it. Not remotely. Not only is it doubtful that urban areas can grow all their own food, especially in light of bacterial risks that would devastate such close-quartered growing operations, but the argument itself stays in place: rural areas should be rural and not be punished for being rural, which is exactly what a popular vote presidential election would do.
If you believe rural areas ought to be devastated because they aren't necessary (see Singapore), then perhaps my argument doesn't hold sway with you, but that discussion will have to take place a different day. But the fact that a popular vote presidential election would hurt the rural areas immensely can't be denied.