Valley Bounty: Sprouts
It’s the season for heavy, hearty meals, but it’s a treat to sneak some locally grown greens in between those proteins and starches during the cold season. Sprouts – juvenile plants that have often been growing for less than a week – are grown indoors year-round in the Valley and can be a ray of green sunshine in a January meal.
I spoke with Seay Minor, owner of the sprout farm The Gill Greenery, earlier this week. Seay explained that popularity for sprouts exploded in the mid 90’s. A highly publicized study completed at Johns Hopkins found that broccoli sprouts contain a high concentration of isothiocyanates, a chemical thought to stimulate detoxifying enzymes in the body. The health food world quickly dubbed sprouts a ‘superfood’.
In the wake of the Johns Hopkins studies, new sprout farms popped up across the country but unfortunately, some of these new trend-driven growers didn’t take the time to learn the art of growing high-quality sprouts. Seay worries that sprout recalls brought on by amateurish growers during the height of the fad have given sprouts a bad name. That’s why he’s always sure to emphasize that the FDA has developed detailed guidance that he and other sprout growers must follow. These days, The Gill Greenery uses an elaborate system of water testing, seed sanitization, and ultra violet lights to keep their sprouts safe and healthy.
Seay is a self-described ‘meat and potatoes guy’ but, unsurprisingly, sprouts are his edible obsession. When his extended family gets together for their weekly taco-night potlucks, Seay always arrives with a giant bag of broccoli sprouts. To make a taco Seay-style, grab your corn tortilla, stuff it with a healthy helping of spicy ground beef and shredded cheddar cheese, pile on the sprouts, and you’re good to go. Quick and delicious – just like sprouts themselves!
Valley Bounty is written by Noah Baustin of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)