Are Microgreens Sustainable?

 

SUSTAINABLE FARMING AND MICROGREEN

Republished from Beyond Microgreens, June 10th, 2020 https://beyondmicrogreens.com/blogs/microgreens-news/sustainable-farming-microgreens

Sustainable farming, organic, and hyperlocal produce. There’s a lot to learn about the food we consume these days. As more people become aware of the importance of sustainability practices in relation to climate awareness, it becomes even more important to know not only about how your food was grown but also how your food choices impact our world.

Sustainable farming, or sustainable agriculture, is simply a way of farming so that our future agriculture, environment and economies are protected. It’s about planning for the future as well as providing for the present.

With the rise of functional foods–foods that have benefits beyond just nutrition–like broccoli microgreens and other versions of microgreens, many farmers and consumers are looking for ways to build sustainability into the food of the future.

MICROGREENS AND SUSTAINABILITY

Growing microgreens is an amazing way to help the planet as well as nourish your body via microgreens nutrients. Because microgreens require way less resources than traditional farming and contain more micronutrients, they’re a great opportunity for alleviating the stress on our overstretched farmlands as well as providing more nutrient-packed full food into our daily lives.

Microgreens tend to produce less waste per crop…in other words, 100% of microgreens are sellable while there’s virtually always a percentage of traditional crops that go to waste.

Additionally, they grow in about an eighth of the time as their adult plant counterparts and can be grown hyper-locally, eliminating the need for transport (especially important right now as the COVID pandemic disrupts food supply chains.

Lastly, they’re grown without herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. You only need clean water, light and air!

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF MICROGREENS

What are some of the amazing environmental benefits of growing microgreens? With thousands of microgreens recipes, there are many ways eating microgreens are an excellent way to eat sustainably! For instance, microgreens are hyperlocal, can be grown in urban areas and in small spaces, and are highly sustainable.

HYPERLOCAL FARMING

Another benefit of farming your own microgreens is that you’re eating what is known as, hyperlocal. You’ve probably seen signs in grocery stores that say ‘grown locally.’ But how does that compare to ‘hyperlocal’ farming” where you can buy microgreens locally grown near your home.

In the USA, using the word ‘local’ only means that it was grown within 400 miles, that’s San Francisco to Los Angeles! In many cases that doesn’t mean it was grown in the same county or even the same state as where you buy the food.

On the other hand, hyperlocal means grown right where you are–in other words, a farmer’s market, farm stand down the road, from restaurant gardens, from your neighbor’s backyard down the street, or in your own living space! Hyperlocal farming, measured by the increase of farmer’s markets nationally, jumped up between 1999 and 2014.

When you decide to grow your own microgreens, you become part of a movement of hyperlocal farmers that help to disrupt the traditional, non-sustainable food system.

In that system, food is often grown far away and sometimes even in other countries, which neglects our own local economy. Food is then transported over long distances–which contributes to environmental degradation due to greenhouse gases and continued use of fossil fuels–while at the same time requiring food to be processed to avoid spoilage along the way.

In order to prevent unsightly bruises or spoilage, food transit companies will often irradiate (expose to light radiation) food, pick the food before it’s ripe (and before it has maximum nutrients) to prevent rotting while in transit, use genetically modified foods, and cover fruits in edible wax.

While many of these processes might be considered safe, the food is not maximally nutritious or flavorful, so why eat something picked before it is ripe and covered in wax when you can eat hyperlocally?

When transported food gets to consumers, it loses much of its nutrition. In one study in lettuce, the greens lost 81% of their Vitamin C by the time they had been transported and sat on the shelf for 4 days.

Clearly, eating locally or hyperlocally is better in terms of the environment, the local economy, and our health. Also, local microgreen delivery means the greens are grown within a 20 miles radius!

ARE MICROGREENS SUSTAINABLE?

Yes! Incorporating home-grown or locally grown microgreens into your regular diet is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and live more sustainably. That’s because growing microgreens requires way fewer resources than traditionally farmed food.

Consider this:

Broccoli microgreens would require 158–236 times less water than it does to grow a nutritionally equivalent amount of mature vegetable in the fields of California’s Central Valley in 93–95% less time and without the need for fertilizer, pesticides, or energy-demanding transport from farm to table.

More than 200 times less water in 94% less time than it takes to grow an adult vegetable, and in many cases the microgreens would actually have more micronutrients than the adult vegetable! That’s a massive savings on both water and time.

Additionally, most agriculture uses fertilizers that cause huge problems that have repercussions on our water supply, the environment, and on organisms like fish. This is because over-fertilization of things like nitrogen or phosphorus allows excess fertilizer to leak into ground water and the surrounding environment.

Too much fertilizer leads to acidic soils, too much algae (eutrophication), pollution of groundwater, and increased global warming. Luckily, because microgreens are an early phase in a plant’s life and grow easily on many types of substrates, there’s never a need for fertilizer!

Here’s a list of 9 sustainable benefits of growing microgreens:

  • Use 200 times less water
  • No pesticides are needed
  • No herbicides are needed
  • No fertilizers are needed
  • Less light needed – meaning less energy
  • No soil needed
  • Less physical space needed
  • Only about two weeks from seed to harvest
  • Year-round crop that can be grown indoors through all seasons

 

Remember, North Shore MicroFresh has the answer to your question, “Is there somewhere to buy microgreens near me?” It’s yes!

 

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