Ahhhh, Spring is here. The time of year where ideas of regrowth, rebirth, reawakening and “spring cleaning” is forefront in everyone’s minds. We all want to change and improve, especially our health, which begins with our diet (and if you want to get technical, our colons and the whole digestive system…sorry, but it’s true) Spring cleaning from the inside out? What a concept! And wouldn’t it be nice if we created a less flatulent environment for all to enjoy (hallelujah!)?
We are hearing more and more about the idea of “clean eating”, finding healthier dietary options and getting away from overly processed fast food convenience. As a result, restaurants are tapping into this trend and creating organic-friendly and raw obtainable diets for everyone to have the ability to eat clean. Diners are becoming more educated and thus, more selective as to what they are looking for when they go out to eat. “Chefs are looking for the freshest and most creative ingredients to add to their menus, and a lot of them fall in the category of microgreens,” said Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association. “More and more chefs want to use things that are locally sourced, and they want it as fresh as possible.”
However, they believe that microgreens are too expensive to purchase and since they have a short shelf life, are hard to keep in stock. Nana, a restaurant in Chicago seemed to have found a viable solution to this dilemma. They are willing to meet the customers’ demands, by going as far as converting their basement into a 100-square-foot hydroponic garden, which produces mustard greens, basil, broccoli and some herbs used for cocktails, all without soil. Restaurants using these gardening systems can save on microgreens, (another name for young, edible greens) which can cost up to $100 per pound; readily provide accessibility to the produce, most of which is grown on the West Coast; and allow for more creativity with menu customization featuring products grown in-house, The greens have a very short shelf life, especially when grown organically and are usually so expensive, so many chefs who really want to use them get priced out. Investing in your own hydrogarden can also save on shipping costs. If you’re growing micro basil, micro rainbow chard and you’re shipping all of that, you could be saving well over 50 percent on your food costs on microgreens alone.
Moto, another restaurant in Chicago, uses the hydroponic concept as part of their on-site farm in a 5-by-9-foot converted office. The farm, which cost about $11,000 to install, also improves the indoor air quality, said chef Homaro Cantu. He says he recouped his installation costs within three months through growing his own microgreens.
If you’re a smaller restaurant who can’t afford to invest $11,000, or want the additional maintenance expense to keep this kind of garden growing, you can look into another viable solution. The Grow Up Hydrogarden Deluxe kit might be just what you’re looking for. With the ability to grow 20 different plants, veggies and herbs in each kit, utilizing only a 3 ft. x 4 ft. space, and only costing $299 per unit, you can create your own growing area for a fraction of what other restaurants are paying. Other added benefits are: 1) no additional overhead costs, 2) potentially lowering produce and delivery costs, 3) eliminating the chances of getting your produce recalled and 4) giving yourselves a marketing upheaval that will reign among one of the coolest and newly innovative ways to dine out. Imagine offering your customers a salad made of organic microgreens or cocktails infused with habanero peppers grown in your own “backyard”? With the use of the Grow Up Hydrogarden and a little help from Mother Nature herself, lengthening your produce shelf life will become the least of your worries.
If you’re a restaurant interested in adding organically-grown produce to your menu for a fraction of the cost, while saving on delivery costs because the products are literally on hand, and want to find a way to set yourselves apart in a highly competitive market by incorporating an in-house garden to your establishment, visit www.growuphydrogarden.com to see how you can get started.