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"Money to me is freedom, and freedom is essential. Money allows me to say that I will now devote my life to being me, rather than putting on my shoes and tie, and going to an office every day."
- Robert Silverberg

  Growing food without soil, typically from water saturated with nutrients.  

As far as I know, this is the first use of hydroponics in modern science fiction.

As the strange plant grew, literally by leaps and bounds, he watched its octopuslike leaves twisting impatiently, like green limbs trying to shake off some invisible bonds. He shuddered.

Then, after a brief, sober reflection, he laughed at himself.

“Hindu fakirs grow mangoes from seeds before the eyes of their audiences,” he mused. “They are probably advanced students of hydroponics. If a radish can be grown from seed to the table in three days, it is possible for a naturally fast weed to grow much faster. I must have stumbled on some different proportion of the basic solution. Now, what did I put in there last time?”

He went to the northern end of his slat house, opened a beaverboard locker which served as chemical cabinet, and picked up a gallon jug, half full...

As he looked at the unusual cactus, it seemed to stir, from the roots up, giving the weird impression of a cat stretching.

Widmer took off his newly-fitted glasses with their modernistic, pointed-up lenses which made him somewhat resemble a curious faun. He wiped them, put them on again on his straight nose. No, the glasses were not blurred. Everything looked as before. Only during the time given to this procedure, the plant seemed to have doubled in size.

Widmer caught a sharp breath. He was used to the miraculously rapid growth of plants fed with a solution of minerals, but this was too much.

Technovelgy from The Hydroponic Monster, by Maria Moravsky.
Published by Strange Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

The basic idea for hydroponics has been around since at least 1627, described in Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum or 'A Natural History.

If you think you remember it from Robert Heinlein's 1941 Methuselah's Children, you're right.

The ship lunged on, alone in the desert of night, each light-year as empty as the last. The Families built up a way of life in her.

The New Frontiers was approximately cylindrical. When not under acceleration, she was spun on her axis to give pseudo-weight to passengers near the outer skin of the ship; the outer or “lower” compartments were living quarters while the innermost or “upper” compartments were storerooms and so forth. ‘Tween compartments were shops, hydroponic farms and such. Along the axis, fore to aft, were the control room, the converter, and the main drive.

It's an idea that gets around; you'll even find it in fantasy. In Barbara Hambly's Darwath series, for example, the Keep that allows human beings to survive the Dark:

"Hey, around my place the only things that grew in closets were mushrooms. But, Ingold, with this kind of light we could get the gardens going again. With hydroponics, we could grow carloads of stuff in almost no space; and down there it's warm enough to do it."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Hydroponic Monster
  More Ideas and Technology by Maria Moravsky
  Tech news articles related to The Hydroponic Monster
  Tech news articles related to works by Maria Moravsky

Hydroponics-related news articles:
  - Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
  - XROOTS eXposed Root On-Orbit Test System

Articles related to Food
3D Printed Cheesecake Not Quite Food Replicator Quality
Porcine Fat Cells For 3D-Printed Whole Pork Products
Microbial Protein Production More Efficient Than Crops
NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge!

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