When most people think of greens they think of lettuce. Different kinds of lettuce, to be sure, but lettuce none the less. Greens do little more than decorate a plate for many. For others, greens are the life’s blood of every meal. Now, chefs from all over the world are turning to what are known as micro greens to not only decorate many of their dishes but to provide much-needed nutrients to their patrons while they’re at it. There are many micro green varieties from which to choose, thanks in no small part to the ingenuity of botanists and health-conscious people everywhere.
Micro greens are tiny vegetable greens that are quite edible and accent the flavor and nutritional content of meals, most often found in fine dining establishments, which account for about 10% of all restaurant scale in the United States. Micro greens and micro herbs are just what the seem like they might be–tiny greens that are a specialty produce. Micro greens have been around for about 20 to 30 years and truly have a lovely flavor that is all their own. Started as accents to a meal, they continue to do that very thing while also standing on their own as side dishes, adding color as well as flavor to chef’s creations all over the world.
Garden flowers are often more than just a feast for the eyes. Over 100 micro green varieties are edible garden flowers. For chefs, food enthusiasts, and the health conscious, organic micro greens are perfect. Their plate appeal, convenience, and nutritional value are what any foodie is looking for in greens. What is great about the micro greens for chef’s is that they can cut the petite micro greens to order with scissors, taking only what they need and leaving the rest to use later. There are also edible flowers which are often used in baking and in other decorative ways. These micro green varieties look beautiful and can be eaten so that there is no waste in the baked good.
It is important to note that micro greens and sprouts are not the same things. All micro green varieties need soil and sunlight for about seven days before they are harvested. Sprouts, on the other hand, only need water to grow their stems. The distinction is important, not only for classification but for food safety reasons. Sprouts can be the cause of food-borne illness while a nicely grown micro green will look beautiful on the plate and provide exceptional nutrients as well.
The next time you treat yourself to a night out at a fine dining establishment, have a look at your plate. The greens presented to you will look nice, but they are not for decorative purposes only. If your plate is full of color, then you know that it’s nutritious. So grab your micro greens, crunch down on them, and smile. You’ve had your veggies for the day.