Microgreens are a green upgrade to restaurant favourites

Canadian diners want healthier meals, to fight climate change, and to support local farms. This is a challenge for chefs and struggling restaurants, but microgreens can be the answer.

Ontario’s short growing season forces restaurants to import greens most of the year — not only losing nutrition from harvest-to-plate but also contributing significant greenhouse gas emissions as the produce is shipped across the continent. 

But innovation in vertical farming technology is changing that reality.

Indoor vertical farms like Guelph, Ont.-based GoodLeaf Farms offer fresh, locally grown microgreens and baby greens year-round in Canada, using efficient specialized LED lights, water, and essential nutrients to grow and harvest crops daily. 

“Incorporating microgreens into dishes elevates your meals,” says Jacquie Needham, Accounts Manager with GoodLeaf. “Microgreens make dishes look beautiful, are a source of local food and add extra nutrition to your menu. A handful of greens not only gives diners a burst of fresh flavours, but it also helps them feel better about indulging in their favourite dish on the menu knowing they are supporting local and a cleaner environment.”

Microgreens and baby greens are used in the world’s best kitchens as a fresh and vibrant garnish or key ingredient, adding flavour, texture and nutrition to the dish.

Applications go beyond just salads and sandwiches — microgreens are a welcome addition to healthy bowls, signature burgers, pizzas, tacos, pastas — even smoothies. Microgreens also go a long way on the plate, offering up to 40 times more vital nutrients than their fully-grown counterparts.

“Everyone is trying to trim down labour costs in restaurants already strained by COVID limitations,” says Jacquie. “Farm fresh microgreens arrive at the restaurant cut and inspected for quality  – there is minimal kitchen prep required.”

Findings show food production makes 26 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gases. Innovative farming from vertical farms like GoodLeaf grows more food per square metre compared to traditional farming. GoodLeaf greens are grown hydroponically without pesticides, using 95 per cent less water than traditionally farmed greens — and recycling water wherever possible.

Microgreens are young plants harvested in the primary stage of plant growth just after the first set of true leaves have appeared. They are typically harvested within two weeks of planting. 

Baby greens are allowed to grow a little bit longer than microgreens but are still harvested before they are fully mature.

With a passion for delicious, nutrient-rich greens, GoodLeaf was founded in Halifax in 2011. Using innovative technology and leveraging multi-level vertical farming, GoodLeaf has created a controlled and efficient indoor farm that can grow fresh produce anywhere in the world, 365 days of the year. The system combines innovations in LED lighting with leading-edge hydroponic techniques to produce sustainable, safe, pesticide-free, nutrient-dense leafy greens. GoodLeaf has ongoing R&D Programs in collaboration with the University of Guelph, Dalhousie University and Acadia University. 

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