Nature has been showing us lots of changes ever since humankind has evolved – getting more industrialised and dependent on some technologies that may or may not really help us that much in the long run. Our food resources have developed as well and no matter how we think about it, more and more people are becoming conscious of how one of our basic needs affects the environment. More and more people are switching to a different type of “consumers”. And when I say consumers, I’m talking about omnivores, carnivores, pescatarians, vegans, vegetarians, etc. And one of the reasons behind this aside from dietary reasons is environmental reasons. As a microgreens farmer, considering the fact that one of my advocacies is living a sustainable lifestyle, I considered a lot of things on how to grow my microgreens in an eco-friendly way. And I’d say that it’s not that easy, I am still learning. But so far, I have learned how growing microgreens is actually good for the planet. Let me give you some of the reasons why.
Food Chemical Reduction
First on the list is how it helps reduce the use of food chemicals such as fertilisers. I grow my microgreens organically. And from time to time, it is a challenge to prevent unwanted species or fungi because as much as possible, I don’t want to use chemicals. I mean, I don’t use chemicals at all because I know how it affects not only the environment but also our health. When the time comes that I need to use one in order to pacify and remove those unwanted moulds and all, I use organic fertilisers. Knowing this fact alone and knowing there are other microgreens farmers out there as well, the demand using chemical fertilisers, pesticides and the like would possibly reduce. The more people are aware of how dangerous these chemicals are to us and the environment and don’t use them on their farms, the lower the demand for them will be.
Food Waste Reduction
Second is how microgreens help in reducing food waste. Before I explain how this works, let me share some facts I’ve found. According to an article from abc.com.au, “Up to 25,000 tonnes of food and garden waste collected through Western Australia’s food organics and garden organics (FOGO) bin system is sitting unused in massive compost piles, despite households being urged to separate organic waste.” And the country is actually 55th on the world ranking in terms of food waste based on the World Population Review. And not only that but it is also said that “18% of purchased food is wasted and 70% of that food is edible”, according to FoodWise, FIAL.
Imagine the amount of food waste we are dumping into those landfills. The shocking thing is the report says that 70% of the wasted purchased food is edible. That amount is enough to feed more people.
Now, how do microgreens help in this food waste problem? Knowing that microgreens are nutrient-dense and can be eaten in no time, allows us to meet some of the nutrients we need daily. While technically, there’s still waste because of the leftover roots and soil used which can’t be eaten but they can be easily used as compost. And also, we are able to support hyperlocal farming which means crops are grown near your area. It minimises the long-distance transport of fresh produce which takes time and has the possibility of the produce rotting. That’s why farmers’ markets are also good places to go to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
Last but not the least, microgreens help the environment in a sustainable way. There are different ways to grow microgreens – by using soil, coconut coir or hydroponics (water). One can even grow them at home. And also, growing them takes 14 days at the most. This is where urban farming comes in. At this age and time when tall buildings and residential houses are what occupy mostly a city, sources of fresh produce are, can we say, a bit of a luxury, especially this past year. And I’m glad that urban farming is actually being practised here in the country. People now tend to grow food right in their gardens, or even in the kitchen where they put small pots for their herbs on the windowsill. Mine is in an open area with a small-scale, low-tech, nursery which I constructed myself. Minimal energy consumption is needed as I don’t use lights, fans or any climate-control tech. Instead utilising the sun and the wind for growing.
Overall, the three points I presented are based on my knowledge and experience. There are still other arguments that have a different view which is opposing to mine. I believe that there are still other factors that need to be considered still and need to be explained more thoroughly with the inclusion of more studies and research. For some, microgreens are just a decoration on some dishes to make them fancy looking. But, microgreens are more than just a topping and I hope more people can be aware of how microgreens aid not only our body’s needs but also the health of the planet.