"Good things come in small packages," my third grade teacher told me. She was always trying to make me feel better about being one of the smallest kids in my class. "Yeah, but so does poison," my adult friends have since teased. Snide remarks aside, I've recently discovered that among the MANY good things that come in small packages is a tiny green superfood known as microgreens!
Here is how I first came across them. I was shopping at Whole Foods one day and they were passing out samples. Depending on my level of hunger when I go shopping, I either scrounge around for the familiar black bowls and sampling tables, or I simply walk on by. On this particular day, my level was high, so I made a beeline for the table stocked with these baby sunflower greens. They looked more substantial than sprouts I'd seen in the past and they tasted delicious. I was intrigued enough to keep their flier and contact the farmer a few weeks later.
The next thing I knew the farmer came to my house! When he walked in the door, I began fawning all over him as if he were the King of Genovia. The farmer, Ed Huling, came to my home because I was hosting a Weston Price chapter meeting. During the gathering, he told us his back story. He was having health struggles some years ago that led him to ask himself, "What if what I'm eating is impacting my health?" It was a simple question that was about to change his life. He began to choose more carefully what he was putting in his body--opting for organic and nutrient-dense food. These changes led to other questions such as "What if the quality of the soil a plant is grown in affects its nutrient content?" With the approval and supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he began to conduct experiments to see if his premise was correct. He grew some crops in soil that was organic and full of minerals. Other crops he grew in depleted, inorganic soil. What he found was that, yes, indeed, the soil that was rich in minerals produced more flavorful and more nutritious crops.
As he regained his health, Ed realized that he wanted to put wheels on what he discovered. And so he became an organic farmer, establishing"new day farms" in Bealton, Virginia, in 2002. His objective was to use mineral-rich soil to grow crops with peak nutrient density and exceptional flavor for his customers. His crop of choice? Microgreens---baby greens less than 2 weeks old! The very thing I tried that day in Whole Foods. Yes, I thought they were yummy at the time, but I was also taken by their nutritional density. They contain 4 to 40 times the concentration of nutrients as the full-grown plant (according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2012). So (warning: farm pun ahead) we can reap the benefit of one pound of beets, for example, by eating a small, single serving of beet microgreens! These mini-plants are just teeming with good stuff: vitamins C, E, K, beta-carotene, phytonutrients and antioxidants!
I'm convinced that if Popeye had known about these babies back in the day, he wouldn't have needed to carry around his clunky cans of spinach! For more info on microgreens, see this recent article on the npr website. And to learn more about those cultivated on new day farms, and where you can buy them, follow @newdayfarms on Twitter. Or check out their Facebook page.
These microgreens are local, delicious, nutritious, and organic. And tiny. Yup, my third grade teacher was right.