I recently read a thought provoking posting by Maria Rukavina entitled "A Micro Proposal". In it she highlights a wider use of microgreens in programs to help adults and children obtain nutrition from live sources. Here are a few excerpts from this post.
"Though “fresh” produce is available in supermarkets all year long, nutritional density decreases the more time has passed from when fruits and vegetables are harvested to when they end up on your plate... Until recently, I was skeptical of the microgreen trend, viewing it as primarily a culinary fad in upscale restaurants. However, after talking with the horticulture specialist for Volunteers of America, Cilia Bell, I began to see how microgreens could be utilized in a way that promotes accessible nutrition for people living in small spaces and as a way to easily incorporate nutritionally dense food on a limited budget. Cilia works with clients from the Volunteers of America Adult Detox Center teaching gardening, and by extension, nutrition. During the winter, the only place to grow food is in the 15’ X 20’ heated greenhouse where residents collectively grow microgreens to use in their kitchens. For some individuals, trying a microgreen for the first time is a startling experience. Because microgreens are a young version of standard vegetable (broccoli, cabbage, beets) their flavor and nutrition is highly concentrated. This flavor concentration had been sought after in the culinary community, but what has equal, if not more, significance is their nutritional density.
Cilia explained to me that recent studies have shown microgreens have anywhere from 4-40 times the nutrients present in a fully grown vegetable, especially if the full grown vegetables were harvested several days from when they will be consumed. In this respect, microgreens provide greater nutrient density at a lower cost than a head of broccoli or cabbage. This discovery is significant when considering the high instances of food deserts in low-income neighborhoods; impacting nutritional access for marginalized populations—particularly in regards to children. Schools could invest in growing microgreens as both a science or biology lesson as well as a way to increase students’ access to nutrient dense foods. Just a handful of microgreens could supply students with a healthy dose of bio nutrients, as well as a curiosity for growing plants. "
Isn't it wonderful that nutrition delivery is highlighted here as the prime function of microgreens rather than the visual function most people think of when given the term. Changing perceptions will take programs like the Volunteers of America to deliver on the promises of food as medicine. Incorporating microgreens in school programs and lunches could go a long way to not only changing perceptions but also creating a new generation micro farmers.
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