Small greens, sizeable impact

Express News Service

Adopting a healthier lifestyle was not a priority for Swati Jain (37), until the birth of her daughter. Worried about external factors such as pollution and aware of her child’s increasing nutritional needs, the Sarita-Vihar resident started researching natural ingredients she could incorporate in her family’s diet. “I think kids do that to you,” Jain laughs. Ceaseless clicks on Google were put to a stop once Jain stumbled upon ‘microgreens’—young seedlings of edible vegetables that grow about one to three inches tall.

“These have about 50 times more nutritional value than their mature counterparts. I started growing them for family and friends,” says Jain who founded The First Leaf, an organisation that works towards growing and promoting organic microgreens, in 2015.Microgreens are increasingly becoming an important component in the diets of individuals looking to switch to organic food. While their small size may fool many, nutritionists already consider microgreens as superfoods.

Packing a punch

What is it that makes microgreens rich in nutrition? Jain answers this question by pointing out that these have more nutritional value than their mature counterparts. Kapil Mandawewala (41), founder of Chhatarpur-based Edible Routes, elaborates, “A wheat grain may have 12 to 15 minerals but wheatgrass, a microgreen, has almost 90 minerals. In the initial stage, the plant is nutrient dense.”

Microgreens are also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, and have zero calories. “They are packed with living enzymes, which are responsible for absorption of nutrients in our body,” shares Jain, who further mentions that seedlings of vegetables and herbs can help keep diseases at bay. Ramesh Gera (63), founder of Kanika Microgreens, claims that wheatgrass can help stabilise heart diseases.There are many ways to incorporate microgreens in one’s diet, adds Gera. Apart from using it as salad garnishes or seasoning in soups, these can also be mixed in smoothies, stir–fry recipes, etc.

Find your green thumb

Consuming healthy food amid our fast-paced lives might be a struggle. To start eating healthier, Harshit Taneja (21) started growing microgreens during the first pandemic-induced lockdown. “Microgreens don’t need much care, unlike plants in general. There have been times when I did not water them for three days; they did not die,” he says. 

Mandawewala mentions that growing microgreens can actually be a great way to start gardening. “It requires minimal restrictions and gives quick results,” he says. Given their small size, these need less space to grow. Microgreens can be grown in flat containers—discarded trays, plastic boxes etc.,—that are at least two-inches deep. 

One important thing to note, however, is that not all plants can be grown as microgreens.  “I know people who have wanted to start growing everything they can as microgreens. That is an incorrect approach. There are certain foods that need to be eaten in a certain way,” informs Jain. Seeds of tomato, aubergine, chilli, okra, and kidney beans should not be grown as microgreens since their leaves can be toxic. Gera mentions that before planting them, it is crucial to test their seeds. “I suggest a water test where the seeds are submerged. The ones that float to the surface are (usually) healthy seeds,” he explains. Jain elaborates, “The time between clipping microgreens and consuming them should be minimal.”

Taking the organic route

While Gera mentions that he has not seen much of an interest in microgreens in the city, Jain believes that even though people in India are still warming up to the idea of these tiny greens, they are sure to become mainstream soon. “There is awareness about eating healthy. People know the ease of growing microgreens. In Indian culture, sprouts have been there for a long time. Growing microgreens is the next step in this journey,” adds Mandawewala.Commenting upon the need for people to learn the art of growing microgreens, Jain concludes, “I feel microgreens should become the staple of every household.”

GROW YOUR OWN MICROGREENS

WHAT: Six-week kids Microgreen Workshop by Edible Routes
WHEN: Starts on May 20
WHERE: Both online and offline at the Edible Routes Farm, Chhatarpur

TINY yet mighty
A few reasons why one must incorporate microgreens in their diet: 
 These help manage high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack
 They can be grown all year-round for daily nutrition
 These are easy to grow at home with minimal supplies

With inputs from Dyuti Roy

#Small #greens #sizeable #impact

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