Local food producer teaches kids about “tiny” vegetables packing big nutrition
POCATELLO -- Margo Clayson came to Franklin Middle School Tuesday with a message of hope for children who can’t stomach vegetables.
Clayson assured the middle-schoolers they can get a full day’s serving of the essential food group from a single mouthful of “microgreens,” which are tiny plant sprouts cut at the peak of nutrition.
The spouts are often used as a garnish, but can do the work of an entree in terms of delivering vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients, explained Clayson, who raises produce from her Inkom home, specializing in microgreens.
Microgreens are cut after just a week or two of growth -- when they’re still tiny but packed with the full dose of nutrients found in a grown plant. Clayson cuts her sprouts just before emergence of the second set of leaves. Plants won’t re-sprout after a cutting.
“Microgreens can grow good health,” said Clayson, founder of The Mighty Microgreen. “This isn’t just for me making money. This is because you can benefit from what I’m doing.”
Franklin history and health students planted their own trays of sunflower microgreens during classes led by Clayson. She urged them to further test their green thumbs at home, by raising trays of microgreens for their families.
Even among Franklin’s pickiest eaters, their were few sour faces when students got to taste test the fresh, flavor-rich sprouts.
Clayson raises a dozen microgreen vegetable varieties, which can have anywhere from four to 40 times the nutrients of mature produce. She started raising them about a dozen years ago for personal health benefits, planting seeds purchased in bulk at WinCo Foods.
For example, she plants flax for the healthy omega-3 fatty acids, buckwheat for the potassium, amaranth and sunflower for the protein, lentils for heart health, peas and radish for vitamin C, broccoli for anti-cancer properties and wheatgrass for general nutrition.
Microgreens are new in Idaho, but have caught on among high-end restaurants throughout the nation’s coasts.
“As a mainstream (concept), it’s definitely growing,” Clayson said. “I would say it’s the next big superfood.”
Clayson started her business in March and has been selling trays locally at Nel’s Bi-Lo Market, the Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market and the Farmer’s Market Store in Pine Ridge Mall. She also delivers directly to customers, and she plans to take samples to local restaurants and caterers during the next few weeks. She’s devoted a lot of time, thus far, to educating the public about the concept.
Franklin teacher Chris Lenihan, who invited Clayson to speak to her classes, maintains a vegan diet and thought her message would fit well within the curriculum of students learning about health and studying agriculture of early civilizations.
“I hope the kids are more mindful of what they put into their bodies,” Lenihan said after Clayson’s lesson.
Lenihan has become a regular Mighty Microgreen customer.
“They taste great. I was hooked just like that,” Lenihan said.
Clayson, who is pursuing an online marketing degree through Brigham Young University-Idaho, said the business idea originated with a class assignment. She was asked to develop a business concept, and her son suggested her microgreens would provide a unique product. She plans to quit her job at Walmart at the end of December to focus more on microgreens. She also plans to continue her separate social media marketing business,
Clayson raises microgreens indoors, placing a tray filled with soil and plants within a try of water to support the roots, which prevents losses to mold. She raises microgreens with nothing more than soil, light and water.
“I want you to be aware of what you eat,” Clayson told the Franklin students. “You don’t have to quit eating anything, but you do need to be mindful of what you choose to eat.”
To learn more, visit www.theMightyMicrogreen.com.