Each has their pro's and con's and the debate has escalated over the past year as hydroponically grown produce has becoming increasingly mainstream. One of the main debates has been over whether hydroponic produce can be certified as organic. The pro side claims that so long as pesticides are not used (which they rarely are, as the poisons get in the water and threaten the plant's roots), hydroponic farms should certainly be up for consideration by the USDA for organic labeling. The against side says that because hydroponic farmers use inorganic fertilizers to put nutrients into their system, they cannot be considered organic.
The other debate going on now is whether hydroponic produce is a healthy/nutritious as plants grown in soil. The science has shown that while there are points to be scored on both sides, most research has concluded that both methods generate produce with roughly equivalent levels of nutrients. In the article quoted above, the author states that it's a moot point as we should be eating more vegetables anyways, regardless of the source.
These debates are very exciting for those in the industry because regardless of how they turn out, they are de-coupling hydroponics from growing weed in basements, and replacing that image with high quality produce you buy in the grocery store (nothing against growing weed in your basement). This shift in perception will be good for the industry and the world as a whole. As we will see in next week's post, we are running out of soil to grow our food. Really fast. Yes it's scary. So the more comfortable we feel with alternative growing techniques, the better.