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This growing season, we’ve teamed up with Desiree Curie, a local food blogger and recipe developer. Each month, Desiree will take us into her kitchen to whip up something seasonal delicious, and we’ll talk about the horticulture that went into it on our blog! She’s also responsible for the beautiful photos in this post!
The microgreen. Perennially placing in the top 100 of the National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot” forecast of restaurant trends, these little sprouts pack a punch of flavor and are incredibly nutrient-dense. They’re also essentially garbage.
Okay, garbage is definitely a bit too strong. But microgreens are, as the name suggests, just undeveloped versions of their full-sized counterparts. The biggest source of microgreens in Green City Growers farms? Thinning. This essential step of the growing process involves pulling (or cutting) a portion of your newly germinated sprouts so that those that remain have the nutrients and space to grow.
In your own garden, a few On a large farm like Whole Foods Lynnfield, the result is hundreds of miniature radishes, beets, arugula leaves, and more, that end up in the compost bin. Ergo, garbage.
Part of the reason we’re so excited about our partnership with Desiree is our mutual interest in finding unique ways to reduce food waste. Where a farmer might see microgreens and think “worm food”, Desiree sees the makings of a springtime salad. She took a trip up to Whole Foods a few weeks back and thanks to Farmer Kate, she came away with a hand with spicy radish thinnings. Propping up a delicious green goddess dressing, Desiree’s recipe . We encourage you to go check out the recipe on her website.
If you purchase even a small container of microgreens, you might come away feeling a bit gipped. Why should a small amount of a supposed “waste product” cost twice or three times a much larger container of lettuce? Well, that’s because there’s a huge difference between commercial growing operations that focus on microgreens compared with those whose end goal is a fully grown crop.
To grow microgreens as an end product means incredible attention to detail. Even the cutting and cleaning of each individual sprout. Many conventional farmers grow microgreens during the winter months, or strictly as a specialty product because of this need for precision. While thinnings and microgreens are technically the same, the two couldn’t be more different.
A good question! It really all comes down to what our client values. Part of the reason why urban agriculture ventures, especially [hydroponic and aquaponics ones] are investing massive sums of money in microgreen growing operations is because microgreens are a higher priced item.
But we measure value in more than just the price-tag of the crops, and think that engagement with the growing process is itself valuable. So is the pure enjoyment of eating fresh summer tomatoes, not just beet greens! We could grow only herbs and microgreens if we wanted to (and there are clearly legitimate reasons to do so), we’d just rather our microgreens be of the…thinning variety.