With the world making a noticeable turn towards organically sourced, naturally nutritious ingredients, one super food that has made a global impact is the small but mighty MICROGREEN. Akash Sajith, CEO of Bangalore based, Living Food company gives Letsstalkfood an in depth look into the health benefits of microgreens.
After having worked with several multinational companies, Akash and Niranjan KS (CXO) founded Living Food Company, a venture that specialises in microgreen farming.
Having witnessed the devastating effects of carcinogens on his family, Akash took it upon himself to make a difference. “We don’t know where our food comes from. Even certified Organic food can also contain harmful substances through groundwater and soil contamination. For instance spinach, which is grown on the ground can contain high levels of arsenic even if it is organic. Most of the food we eat, organic or not, may not be safe for us.”
Akash explains that industrially processed or prepared foods are heavily laden with cancer causing chemical pesticides and fertilisers. It is designed to be frozen, shipped across hundreds and thousand of kilometres and produce high calorie, low nutrient food.
The duo thus decided to create foods rich in micro nutrients, that is safe to eat and hygienic in the most sustainable way possible.
Quite simply put, microgreens are vegetable and herb seedlings. Once the seed of a herb or a vegetable grows, it is termed a sprout and once the sprout begins to grow, the baby plant is considered a microgreen.
“Microgreens are much more nutrient-dense foods than their fully mature counterparts, almost 40% more! This is because they take all of the important vitamins and minerals found in the mature plant and manage to cram them into a much smaller package. Moreover, these tiny greens are absorbed faster in the bloodstream, making them an efficient source of high quality nutrition. Our microgreens maybe small, but they pack a big punch!” Says Akash
The extensive range of microgreens grown by Living Food Company provides for a diverse array of nutrients. For Eg. Swiss Chard is especially high in Vitamins K, A and C; while beets are replete with manganese and folate. Customers have the liberty to pick and choose microgreen products to address a particular deficiency.
Living food company specialises in microgreens, herbs, edible flowers as well as certain handpicked vegetables that are rich in micronutrients, prevents cancer, cardio vascular issues and builds immunity. Its powerful antioxidant properties also help repair our bodies.
With a strong belief in democratising health and allowing people to make a healthy choice, Akash shares “We decided to go mainstream with microgreens since no other player in the country was doing it. This is mainly because microgreens are considered to be a gourmet product, made only for fine dining chefs. This did not make sense to us. Produce with such outstanding health benefits should be accessible to everyone and that’s why we are bringing highly nutritious microgreens to the average Indian consumer.”
Microgreens saw its beginnings as a joint effort between chefs and farmers to find new and exciting produce. “The chef didn’t quite want to walk through a crowded market to buy produce, they are out in the country side exploring every facet of farm life. It was during one of these collaborations that the chef stumbled into the farmers nursery where his seedlings had just begun to germinate. The chef was amazed by the assembly of colour, shape and texture he had happened upon and as an added bonus, a plethora of flavour and taste!”
Microgreens are not to confused with sprouts. Sprouts are usually grown in water ad harvested within two or three days while microgreens need a porous and dense growing medium, sunlight and are harvested within one to three weeks of growth; when they are approximately 3-4 inches tall. Flavours depend on the mother plant and it can range from mild to tangy, spicy to peppery and earthy.
Using cutting edge climate controlled farms, Living Food Company monitors several data points at every planting stage and harvest. There is constant review, testing and improvement of the growing system through every farm cycle.
“We use LED lights to create a specific light recipe for each plant, giving the greens exactly the spectrum, intensity, and frequency they need for photosynthesis in the most energy-efficient way possible. This engineered lighting allows us to control size, shape, texture, colour, flavour, and nutrition with razor-sharp precision and increased productivity.”
Working alongside some of the top researchers and scholars in Nutrition, Agriculture and Social impacr, the enterprising duo identify themselves as urban farmers. Akash and Niranjan ensure minimum use of fossil fuels for transporting their products. They assure that the nutrient and taste profile of their products are intact until it reaches their customers kitchens.
Living Food Company has about 25-30 variants of microgreens ranging from Chinese Rose (Pink Radish) to Italian Dandelion and seeds that have come from over 12 countries around the globe. “We are focused on creating micronutrient rich food – mostly the ones that cannot be grown in Indian climatic conditions.”
Elaborating on health benefits, Akash had this to share “A study by researcher Qin Wang, Assistant professor at the University of Maryland found four to forty fold more nutrient concentration in microgreens than their mature counterparts. They were so stunned by the results, they to double and triple check them!”
A recently published study conducted by USDA researchers assessed the nutrition content of 25 commercially available microgreens. “Microgreens won leaves down, possessing significantly higher nutrient densities than mature leaves. For eg: red cabbage microgreens have a 6-fold higher concentration of Vit C and 69 times the Vitamin K than mature red cabbage!”
A sustainable food culture is the need of the hour and Akash could not agree more! “A sustainable food culture ensures that producers and consumers have minimum negative impact on the environment. We keep the interest of the planet at heart in everything we do. It also means being honest and truthful to the consumer. There is much to explored and admired in the wonderfully small world of microgreens. It is a little leaf abundant in health, wellness and culinary senses.”
Products from Living Food Company are currently available on order in Bangalore. They are in the process of setting up their farms in Bombay, Chennai and Delhi
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