Metro Morning

'Nutrient density, flavour and crunch' of microgreens pack a punch against imported vegetables

A local greenhouse facility growing microgreens — seedlings of traditional vegetables with four times the nutrients — helps pack a punch against imported vegetables by contributing to the local economy amid rising food prices.

Locally grown microgreens contribute to the local economy amid increasing food prices

A greenhouse facility outside Toronto is serving up microgreens, supercharged "tiny plants" that pack a nutrient-dense punch and offer a local alternative to imported lettuce. (Greenbelt Microgreens/Facebook)

A local greenhouse facility growing microgreens — seedlings of traditional vegetables with four times the nutrients — is helping pack a punch against imported vegetables by contributing to the local economy amid rising food prices. 

Greenbelt Microgreens, located outside Toronto in Gormley, Ont., grows the nutrient-dense, organic product. 

Microgreens are "tiny versions" of parent plants, such as broccoli, arugula, sunflower and pea seedlings. 

Greenbelt Microgreens are grown year-round in a greenhouse in Gormley, Ont. The company recently expanded its operations. It opened a second location in Hamilton, Ont., in June. (Greenbelt Microgreens/Facebook)

"It's very similar to a salad except with great colours, flavours and textures, and incredible nutrient density," said Ian Adamson, founder and president of Greenbelt Microgreens.

Canada's Food Price Report, released Monday, forecasts that Canadian families may pay as much as $420 more for food next year because of economic, political and climate-related factors. 

But Adamson claims greenhouses offer a "solution to that problem" because they enable food producers to help stimulate the economy by producing and selling locally sourced products. 

Adamson began experimenting with microgreens about seven years ago while working at a bedding plant-type production facility producing potted organic herbs. 

Founder and president of Greenbelt Microgreens Ian Adamson first began experimenting with the leafy greens and herbs about seven years ago. (Greenbelt Microgreens/Facebook)

In an interview with CBC Toronto's Metro Morning on Wednesday, Adamson said the idea of being able to grow year-round is what interested him in the system because fresh field vegetables can't be grown during wintertime in Canada. 

"It does cost more to produce," he said. "But all those dollars are staying here in the province and that's really what's key to local food. It's a win-win for the Ontario and Canadian economy in general."  

Microgreens' rival is lettuce, a commodity crop imported from California. Adamson said "it's very hard to compete with" because almost 80 per cent of the country's fresh produce is imported.  

"Ontario is the second largest food-processing facility in North America next to California, and having local food supporting that economy is critical," said Adamson.  

Another reason he says he chose to grow microgreens is because they go a long way. For example, a quarter of a cup of broccoli microgreens is the equivalent of eating two heads of broccoli.  

Microgreens have "great nutrient density, flavour and crunch," he said, and can be eaten in sandwiches, wraps and on top of salads as garnish.  

These young plants from Greenbelt Microgreens' greenhouse facilities are harvested after they've been grown 10 days and sold on shelves at grocery stores like Sobeys, Longos and Wholefoods the day after they're cut.

Microgreens last about two weeks.  

With files from Metro Morning