The next time you bite into a Wendy’s sandwich, the lettuce you’re eating might have been grown in a greenhouse.
The fast food giant hopes to source more of its lettuce from greenhouses and other indoor growing environments as frequent droughts and extreme weather disrupt the supply of lettuce grown outdoors, reported Bloomberg.
Crops grown outdoors, including lettuce, are currently struggling throughout the country.
Georgia’s peach crop, for example, plummeted by 90% this year. After a virus tore through California’s lettuce crop, lettuce has been harder to come by in supermarkets. Unusually high temperatures, insufficient rainfall, and even ash from wildfires didn’t do the crop any favors.
In response to the shortage, Wendy’s made plans to source its lettuce from indoor growing facilities.
“We are seeing more extreme weather events,” Liliana Esposito, Wendy’s chief corporate affairs and sustainability officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg, as posted by Yahoo. “It’s really about supply assurance, that you can create a more stable, less volatile supply.”
Wendy’s already sources its tomatoes from hydroponic growing facilities, which ensure more consistency and reportedly lower risk of contamination. Hydroponic facilities grow produce in a nutrient-rich, water-based solution instead of in soil.
Because water in hydroponic facilities is captured and reused, the process uses less water than traditional farming. On top of that, plants in hydroponic facilities grow faster because the solutions they’re grown in are tailored to the plant’s specific nutritional needs.
Indoor farms use less land, require less water, and minimize food waste. Indoor farming is expected to grow in the coming years as suppliers and consumers come to recognize the health and environmental benefits of indoor-grown produce.
Over the past several years, Wendy’s has shifted its Canadian lettuce supply to indoor growers. Still, Esposito indicated that the United States cannot currently fully support Wendy’s U.S. supply chain. The Canadian greenhouse-grown lettuce uses no pesticides and waters more efficiently than field-grown lettuce, according to Wendy’s.
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