Trendy Microgreens Offer Nutrition Security As Climate Concerns Grow

Microgreens, a trendy 'gourmet' source of nutrients, may play an important role in nutritional security as the climate changes and during emergency situations, according to researchers. These leafy greens are, as the name suggests, tiny in size, but they offer a large number of nutrients without the space, time, and fertilizer demands of full-grown crops.

What are microgreens? Put simply, the term refers to the small greens from young vegetable and herb plants; the greens are typically harvested when they're only a couple of inches tall. Microgreens have been trendy as a superfood or 'gourmet' food item, but the reality is that they're quite simple to grow.

A new study from Penn State explains that the nutrient-dense nature of microgreens means they may play an important role in ensuring populations around the world get their nutritional needs met, particularly as the climate changes, increasing the potential for famines and disruptions in the food supply.

As well, microgreens may be a valuable source of nutrients during unexpected events and emergencies, with the researchers citing the ongoing pandemic as one example of a potential food supply chain disruptor. In addition to offering nutrients and antioxidants, microgreens offer other benefits: they can be grown quickly, they can be grown just about anywhere, and they don't require much fertilizer.

The researchers suggest, among other things, that kits for growing microgreens could potentially be distributed to people during an emergency situation to provide short-term access to nutrients. As well, space agencies like NASA and ESA have explored the use of microgreens as a way to provide astronauts with fresh food and ample nutrients while on long-duration space missions.