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City Labs

Vertical Farming’s Success Depends on the Cheapest Lightbulb

The industry promised to tackle world hunger. But all it may end up delivering for now is expensive basil and perhaps some better quality marijuana.

LED lighting at an indoor hydroponic farm inside a Carrefour SA grocery store in Dubai.

LED lighting at an indoor hydroponic farm inside a Carrefour SA grocery store in Dubai.

Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg
Corrected

Abu Dhabi’s giant Yas Mall isn’t the most obvious location for embracing nature. The sprawling complex, which houses a 20-screen cinema, leads to a Ferrari-themed amusement park.

At its heart is the Carrefour hypermarket. There’s no natural light or soil, yet floor-to-ceiling shelves offer shoppers herbs and microgreens grown right in the store. The fresh produce is a rare sight in the United Arab Emirates, which is almost all desert and imports 80% of its food. It’s marketed as a healthy way for customers to reduce the carbon emissions that would be generated transporting their groceries.