The New Indian Express

MI­CRO­GREENS SHOW ‘LESS IS MORE’

Stud­ies claim mi­cro­greens can be up to 40 times more nu­tri­tious than ma­ture greens. While it may be de­bat­able, it is true that they can help pre­vent many dis­eases in­clud­ing can­cer

- (The au­thor is co-founder of greenopia.co) Mayukhini Pande Food · Lifestyle

Afew years ago, when a hand­ful of gourmet chefs started us­ing mi­cro­greens, it seemed like an­other pass­ing fad. But lately, you can find many up­mar­ket restau­rants flaunt­ing tiny bunches of greens, grow­ing in the mid­dle of din­ner ta­bles and kitchen coun­ters. These lit­tle leafies have more to their story than their size would suggest.

GREENS VS MI­CRO­GREENS

Greens com­monly avail­able in the mar­ket are fully grown. Mi­cro­greens are leafy veg­gies and herbs, like fenu­greek or cilantro, that are har­vested when young – typ­i­cally within a cou­ple of weeks. At this stage, they are packed with a higher con­cen­tra­tion of nutri­ents, which starts get­ting used up as the plant ma­tures. Some stud­ies claim that mi­cro­greens can be up to 40 times more nu­tri­tious than ma­ture greens. While that num­ber may be de­bat­able, it is true that they have a higher den­sity of phyto-nutri­ents which are known to pre­vent many dis­eases, in­clud­ing can­cer.

CHEFS’ FAVOURITES

Mi­cro­greens got trac­tion when shows like MasterChef demon­strated how art­fully they can be used to dec­o­rate a plate or add sur­pris­ing notes to a dish. They are more flavour­ful than ma­ture greens which start to be­come bit­ter or tart as they grow. Chefs of­ten mix mi­cro­greens of dif­fer­ent colours like red ama­ranth, green cress, pur­ple radish, to create a con­fetti-like ef­fect. Each colour brings its own unique set of phyto-nutri­ents too. In­ter­est­ingly, some restau­rants grow mi­cro­greens to har­vest them in cer­e­mo­nial style in front of cus­tomers, adding some lively the­atrics to in­sipid sal­ads.

BUSI­NESS OP­POR­TU­NITY

Most vegeta­bles go through a long jour­ney from har­vest to plat­ter, in­volv­ing cold stor­age. In the process, they lose much of their nu­tri­tion. Mi­cro­greens don’t do well in long tran­sit and stor­age. That is why you don’t find them eas­ily in the mar­ket. Even if they could be stored, it would de­feat the whole point of their fresh­ness and nutri­ent den­sity. This chal­lenge also means a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for lo­cals to sup­ply fresh mi­cro­greens to high-end restau­rants.

HOW TO GROW

Mi­cro­greens don’t need much time or skill to grow. You can choose com­monly avail­able kitchen seeds like fenu­greek and mus­tard or ex­otics like basil, pars­ley, arugula. You can re­pur­pose shal­low kitchen or take­away con­tain­ers by punch­ing drainage holes in them. Use coco-peat as medium, since it re­tains mois­ture. En­sure that it does not dry out un­til ger­mi­na­tion. Once the seeds ger­mi­nate, wa­ter when the top layer be­gins to dry. Post ger­mi­na­tion mi­cro­greens like sun­light but if you don’t have the lux­ury, try a win­dow sill or a bright in­door lo­ca­tion - some­times it works. Har­vest when the sec­ond pair of leaves (‘true’ leaves) starts to ap­pear, typ­i­cally in 10-14 days of ger­mi­na­tion.

If you had the time to grow only one thing this sea­son, try mi­cro­greens. After all, they are per­fect ex­am­ples of ‘less is more’.

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 ?? Im­ages cour­tesy greenopia.co ??
Im­ages cour­tesy greenopia.co
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