Delicate microgreens and knife sharpening: not a predictable matchup, but those are the goods and services offered at the American Pride MicroFarm stand at the Oak Park Farmers Market

We’d walked by the American Pride MicroFarm stand several times this summer; last Saturday, we stopped by. 

John, the guy selling the microgreens while buddy Jack sharpens knives, gave us quite a pitch about how a handful of broccoli microgreens have the equivalent nutritional value of a pound or more of fully grown broccoli. Seemed unbelievable, so I did some research and found that “According to Johns Hopkins University, 3-day-old broccoli microgreens contain as much as 50 times the amount of some of the health-boosting phytonutrients of the mature broccoli head.”  

Microgreens are also thought to reduce the likelihood of heart disease while helping fight cancer, boost immunity, improve eyesight, reduce constipation, and lower cholesterol. Of course, we take such claims with a grain of salt, but it seems undeniable that microgreens are good for you.

As nutritious as they are, microgreens – whether of broccoli, sunflower, or any one of dozens of other vegetables – are also good on sandwiches, and they’re better than lettuce.  Lettuce can be cut thin, which is a good thing, but the wateriness of the leaf tends to dilute the flavor of the sandwich; the microgreens are packed with flavor, and they bring a crispness that’s delicate and flavorful but doesn’t get in the way of the main attraction: the protein (meat, cheese, Tofurkey, whatever).

Nutritious microgreens are easy to grow and super cheap if you sprout them from seed. We paid about six bucks for our box from John at American Pride, who had a wide selection to choose from, including cabbage, amaranth, onion, kale, and many other plants. The tiny microgreens convey the distinctive flavor of the larger plant.

Alas, such tiny baby vegetables are not cheap, usually about three bucks an ounce, which nets out to $48/pound, more than some of the best beef at Carnivore.

The nutrition, beauty and cost of microgreens has started us thinking that maybe, this winter, we should start growing them at home. There are a number of different and relatively inexpensive growing systems available on Amazon.

Growing microgreens December through April might be a way of having an indoor garden in the winter and, just as importantly, a way of holding onto a little bright green goodness during what threatens to be a dark time.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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