Local Bounti Wants to Change the Way You Get Your Lettuce — and Eat It, Too
When his grandfather moved to Montana from Denmark to grow dryland wheat in the mid-1900s, Craig Hurlbert's family didn't know they'd one day spark a food revolution.
But that's just what the co-CEO of Local Bounti is doing today thanks to the company's modern techniques for growing time-tested vegetables, like lettuce.
The Montana-based food provider uses "controlled-environment agriculture" to grow lettuce, herbs, and other leafy greens inside greenhouses that would otherwise be impossible to grow in the region.
"Let's take a head of a lettuce, for example. If you're in Montana today, it's a hundred degrees … with the humidity in Houston today, lettuce doesn't like 100 degrees, so you're not growing lettuce. Whatever lettuce you're getting is coming in from somewhere else," Hurlbert explains to PEOPLE. "And yet, in our greenhouses today in Montana, we control the environment perfectly for whatever particular product we're growing."
Local Bounti also prides itself on using 90-95% less water and 90% less land for its year-round crops, as well as zero herbicides or pesticides.
This science-forward system not only allows consumers to purchase safe, locally grown produce from their neighborhood grocery stores, it also creates a good that can last much longer than traditionally farmed food thanks to its "sustainable, root-on, living products."
"Local Bounti's produce is still fresh, delicious, and crisp after 3-5 weeks in comparison to traditional agriculture which is uneatable after 3-5 days," the team shares.
According to Hurlbert, that ability to grow long-lasting vegetables in their harvest state regardless of climate might just be the key to our ever-growing, international food scarcity crisis.
"The food-supply system that we have right now, especially with perishables, is stressed, I think. It's been ready for a technology-based disruption for quite some time. And I think controlled-environment agriculture generally, and Local Bounti specifically, is really stepping into a place to help people all over the world have a more reliable food-supply system," Hurlbert tells PEOPLE. "One that doesn't incorporate so much waste. Not just wasted product, but the waste of the pesticides, the land, the water, everything else that goes along with it. It's kind of a shame that the system that we have today is so wasteful."
The Hunger Project, a global non-profit tackling food insecurity released some pretty distressing numbers for its 2021 report. "60 million people live in chronic hunger. 60 percent of people living in hunger are women. 98 percent of people suffering from undernourishment live in low- and middle-income countries. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined," the non-profit wrote.
While they don't plan to move past leafy greens anytime soon, Hurlbert is confident his company will prove itself a trusted name when it comes to making your next salad.
"It's exciting to be part of the solution on food safety, because, as you know, there's all these recalls on lettuce each year. And this just really goes a long way to alleviating that," he shares.
So, what's next for the future of produce now that Local Bounti has cornered the market on the American Pacific Northwest?
"Someone will figure that out," Hurlbert admits.
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