Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to improve the Texas Prison System. We interviewed Mac and uncovered three key points about aquaponics in prisons. In the first post of this series, we discussed the first point: aquaponics in prisons saves taxpayers money. Next, we talked about the power of aquaponics to rehabilitate offenders. In this post, we discuss a point that many take for granted: salad is a big deal.
If you’ve been eating salad your whole life, you probably don’t think of salad too much. But if you’re working on a prison in a desert, like Officer Mac, you start to realize how great salad is.
In a prison system, the Officers eat the same meals as the inmates. A typical meal for the group might be cornbread, baked beans, and hot dogs. But Mac’s unit is changing that. They now use aquaponics to produce a large healthy salad including tomatoes and cucumbers once every two weeks for the entire group. He is halfway to his goal of a salad per week.
Mac says there is a noticeably lighter mood on the days when they eat their salad. Everyone appreciates the ultra-fresh food and feels better after the meal.
Fresh salad would normally not be possible in the dry, isolated land around the prison. With aquaponics, agriculture is possible in any environment.
Mac also notes that many inmates are from the inner city and have never eaten fresh salad in their entire lives. Now in prison they are eating a fresh salad once every two weeks thanks to aquaponics. Mac says there is a “eureka” moment when someone eats a salad for the first time. They say they finally realize why people on TV and the movies are always eating salad.
The bottom line: don’t take salad for granted. As the world populations grows and environmental challenges mount, we will be relying on aquaponics for a lot more of our salad.
The Aquaponics Association has been supporting Mac in his efforts to spread aquaponics to prisons nationwide. Recently, Aquaponics Association Senior Advisor Kate Wildrick interview Mac.
Mac will be at our Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22 at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY. Come check it out!