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Will Vegetable Confetti Become the Next Food Fad or Future Food for Indoor Gardening?

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Microgreen gardening

Are veggies your least favorite dish during dinner? Read on and discover how that microgreens just might change your mind and your palate when it comes to what will either be the next food fad or future food for indoor gardening.

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The Need for Agricultural Self-Reliance

By 2050, experts predict that there will be more than 10 billion people in the world to feed, and that current farming methods cannot and will not suffice to feed everyone. While rigorous studies are in progress searching for solutions, it just may turn out that we will have to rely on ourselves to make sure there is plenty of food in our home. In other words, we will have to learn how to become agriculturally self-reliant.

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One solution that is easily within the abilities of anyone capable enough of owning and taking care of a pet, is the practice of turning to indoor farming and raising crops inside your home.

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“Can’t be done,” you may say arguing that there’s not enough room for apartment gardens. “It takes too long,” argues others. As it turns out, growing food that is nutritious and filling can be grown in small stackable spaces with edible results in as little as a week.

This notion was prompted by a recent news article from Colorado State University, that describes the recent findings focused on how people can be expected to react to the practice of turning to microgreens as a dish rather than just an adornment on their plate.

According to the news article: Microgreens are the young and tender leafy greens of most vegetables, grains, herbs and flowers that are harvested when their first leaves appear. Their rapid maturity of a few weeks and affinity for controlled-environment agriculture (also known as indoor farming) means they use very little water and can be harvested quickly. It makes them a model of sustainability: They can be grown indoors, year-round, in cities and rural communities, in greenhouses, warehouses, vertical farms and even homes.

“The need for our food to be more sustainable is greater than ever. I love the idea that they can be grown in an urban environment, indoors in big cities and smaller towns. We can’t just grow everything in the soil outside anymore, and we need to conserve what natural resources we still have,” stated study author Sarah Ardanuy Johnson, an assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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To gardeners the allure of eating the early stages of some plants should come as no surprise. After all, why do garden pests such as rabbits, deer and even some bird species target new growth before its even had a chance to grow much beyond a seedling? Because those young leaves taste good.

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Due to that microgreens offer so many benefits toward feeding the public as a future food, the goal of the study was to determine what various microgreen species would be favored by consumers and determine other factors that might contribute to whether consumers will accept microgreens as a dish or not.

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Using a panel of 99 individuals, researchers evaluated how taste and appearance of six microgreen plant species— arugula, red cabbage, broccoli, bull's blood beet, red garnet amaranth and tendril pea—affected consumer preferences. Some plant species were chosen not only for their nutritional value, but also for their lively coloration.

“Some people call them ‘vegetable confetti’ or ‘funfetti’ because they’re small, colorful and flavorful,” Johnson said, adding that they have historically been used as a garnish or topping in restaurants.

What the study revealed was that all six of the microgreen species rated highly toward acceptance by the panel members, although arugula rated the least desirable by some due to its rather bitter taste.

What the researchers also determined was that the integration of microgreens globally will require some public education outlining the benefits of microgreens to make consumers more knowledgeable. And, not just about the cost, access, availability and freshness and shelf-life of the produce, but also to lessen the tendency of some who experience food neophobia—a fear of trying something new to eat.

Try Microgreen Gardening

While the idea of microgreens as becoming a staple of grocery stores everywhere remains to be seen, the fact of the matter is that you do not need to wait until then to have edible greens that might appeal to even the most ardent carnivore in your home.

A quick internet search reveals that there are a number of sites and videos that already promote eating microgreens and how to go about growing them inside your home.

Here is an exceptional YouTube instructional video that goes in-depth with practical results:

YouTube Instruction Video: How to Grow Microgreens from Start to Finish

If you grow your own microgreens at home already, tell us about your favorite greens and how you prepare them as a dish.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

References:

Beyond the garnish: Will a new type of produce get the microgreen light?” by Jeff Dodge, Colorado State University College News, March 31, 2020.

Microgreens: Consumer sensory perception and acceptance of an emerging functional food crop” Kiri Michell et al. Journal of Food Science; First published: 06 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.15075.

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