GTPulse: Small But Mighty – Microgreens Pack a Powerful Health Punch
Microgreens. I can’t get away from the word, not that I want to, I just didn’t have a concept of what they were until recently. Visions of Polly Pocket-sized broccoli and basil fit for an ant came to mind, but that was about it. There’s an active and admirable vegan, vegetarian and health-focused culture in the Grand Traverse area and I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many restaurants, grocers and farmers that provide fresh foods that help make a difference in the community. On top of that, the way all of those restaurants, grocers and farmers work together and support each other. After seeing a few local Instagram posts featuring delicious-looking recipes featuring microgreens as an ingredient, I reached out to Full Moon Microgreens to ask all my big questions about the tiny herbs and veggies.
Microgreens are having a moment right now. Not that their trendy predecessors kale and arugula are any less important. As a matter of fact, microgreens are exactly what they sound like; smaller versions of your favorite vegetables and herbs. The difference is in their size, but also in their nutritional value.
When I got to Evan’s home I was greeted by a band of kids outside. He and his family live in rural Traverse City, but the concept of neighborhood kids is universal whether you’re in the city or the country. They dutifully watched me pull in to the driveway from the top of their snow mountain, and upon arriving promptly asked, “Who are you?” The kids are protective of their territory, and their parents Evan and Erica Lefler are protective of them. Being protective of your kid’s health is a priority to most parents. Evan proudly grows microgreens through his small business Full Moon Microgreens and it all began with their first daughter being born.
“Both me and my wife are from Traverse City. Her parents and grandparents still live 10 minutes down the road. I grew up right over by Long Lake, my parents still live in the same house.”
The only time Evan didn’t live in Traverse City was when he went out west to Wyoming where he studied to become a diesel mechanic. He spent 10 years working as a diesel mechanic and had his last mechanic job at Elmer’s when he moved back to Traverse City.
So how does someone go from being a mechanic to farming microgreens?
“I like to think that I’m pretty health-conscious. I got into running about three years ago. Ran the Bayshore, ran the 50 Mile Ultra. But it really started when our daughter was born. We really started watching what we were eating. When I looked into microgreens I didn’t really find anything.”
He began growing his own microgreens for his family to use and to sell. He grows the greens indoors so he’s able to do it year-round.
“Right now I grow pea shoots, sunflower shoots, peas, fava beans, buckwheat, arugula, mustards, radish, broccoli, kale, beets, basil, cilantro, popcorn shoots, swiss chard.”
Microgreens are adorably miniature versions of their full-size counterparts. Just like how white tea is just a younger harvested green tea, microgreens are just veggies and herbs that are picked earlier.
“Microgreens are up to 40 percent more nutrient-dense than a mature plant. Microgreen classifies at the height of which you harvest it. You get a little bit of the green that comes out of the seed, that’s a sprout. The next stage is a microgreen, then a baby green and then adult. Since you’re not letting them grow to maturity, they’re not using all that energy to grow into these big vegetables. All that nutrition, minerals and everything are still in that little plant.”
A handful of pea shoots has quite a bit more nutritional value than the same size handful of peas, and also, more flavor. Microgreens pack a more concentrated flavor into their small stature.
They don’t need to be cooked or baked either. The best way to eat them is as toppings for tacos, salads, chilli, or just raw by themselves.
“They’re really convenient, you don’t have to cook them. You just wash them and they’re ready to eat, they have a nice crunch.”
He’s making microgreens even easier to eat by offering a subscription service. $15 a month gets 2 ounces of microgreens delivered weekly. For easy salad upgrades, and easy snacking.
Full Moon Microgreens can be ordered through all their social media, email or by just calling Evan. I got to try a few of the mini greens and was pleasantly surprised that microgreen radish indeed tastes like a stronger full-size radish, the micro basil tastes like stronger basil and the same goes for the pea shoots. The snozberries taste like snozberries! If you haven’t experienced them microgreens yet for yourself, give them a try. The tiny greens big taste might surprise you.