Some of you may have noticed a line of baby and microgreens in the produce section of your local supermarket. Manufactured under the AeroFarms label, the finished product is distinguished by its freshness and vivid color.
The formation of Aerofarms was the result of research conducted by the team of Dr. Ed Harwood, David Rosenberg, and Marc Oshima, whose varied backgrounds complement one another. Harwood, once a professor at Cornell’s highly regarded School of Agriculture, has pioneered the use of aeroponics, which is the revolutionary technique that feeds nutrients into plant roots via a fine mist while they are suspended in air. It is designed to promote healthy growth while making maximum use of the available space.
Rosenberg, who is Jewish and keeps a kosher household, arranged for AeroFarms to gain certification through the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. In addition, he is a proponent of the use of technology to promote a clean environment. Oshima is the marketing guru, who has plied his trade with a number of major corporations such as L’Oreal, Toys R’ Us, and The Food Emporium.
The global headquarters for the company is located in Newark NJ, within the tri-state area. They have two major commercial facilities,and three for research and development. AeroFarms has been actively working on community farms, bringing it into schools and community centers. They also have farms overseas in the Middle East, specifically in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
There are many benefits to AeroFarms’ products vs traditionally farmed produce. Everything is grown vertically in an indoor controlled environment. They use up to 95% less water than traditional farms, no chemicals, and the nutrition in their produce is optimized. Different flavor profiles are offered for their products, such as Micro and spicy wasabi mustard.
Additionally, they are able to grow their greens 365 days a year. No washing is necessary, as there are no bugs, dirt or chemicals, which also helps increase the shelf life. Perishability is a factor for most other bagged salads, as they are washed aggressively, leading to spoilage and waste. AeroFarms products typically have a shelf life of 15 days. They are out the door, on the way to stores, within 24 hours of harvest.
The company has partnerships with the USDA, and has worked with universities, including Cornell, Rutgers and Purdue. We often hear of bacterial outbreaks in produce, such as e-coli, salmonella or listeria. However, chances of bacterial outbreaks in AeroFarms’ products are minimized because of the way their produce is grown.
What are microgreens? Microgreens are baby plants that are more mature than sprouts but not yet baby leaf vegetables. They can be grown from any herb or vegetable, and are typically harvested after 1-2 weeks. These greens are known for their intense flavor and high nutrient content, four to six times that of their more mature counterparts. Rich in antioxidants, and nutrients such as iron, magnesium and potassium, they are a great addition to any meal. Microgreens can be found in a variety of flavors, including mustard, broccoli, kale and arugula.
Baby greens are slightly older than microgreens, harvested at 15-40 days, as opposed to an “adult” leaf, which is grown between 45-60 days. They are smaller in size than a fully mature leaf and more tender. There is a notable difference in flavor and texture in some varieties, such as kale, where the baby version can be less bitter and tough. In terms of nutrition content though, the adult and baby leaf are comparable.
AeroFarms has worked with the Jewish community for over 7 years, and has been able to directly obtain OU certification a couple of years ago. Appreciating the market opportunity, AeroFarms made their first ever appearance at Kosherfest this year. It was very exciting for them to display their products at the trade show for kosher keeping clientele. Having leafy greens that can be enjoyed right from the container, without the need to check for bugs, is incredible for the kosher consumer. AeroFarms hopes to continue to introduce more products, including berries, in the near future.
AeroFarms products are available at many local retailers, including Whole Foods, Stop and Shop, Shoprite, Fresh Direct, The Fresh Market and Walmart. They are also available on a larger scale for food service through Baldor. They have many products available, including different varieties of microgreens, such as micro broccoli, and baby greens, including baby watercress. Please visit their website for more information www.aerofarms.com.
- 1 cup AeroFarms Micro Super Mix
- 1 cup AeroFarms Baby Kale
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 avocado
- 1 stalk broccoli
- 1 cup cucumber
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 tbsp hummus or plant- based dip of choice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp olive oil (optional)
Begin by preheating the oven to 425. Slice the sweet potato into rounds and the broccoli into bite-size pieces.
Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic powder, and onion powder. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Assemble the remaining vegetables. Cut the cucumbers into half moons, the cherry tomatoes in half, the onion in thin strips, and dice the avocado.
Once the broccoli and sweet potatoes are finished, assemble the bowl. Fill your coconut bowl with AeroFarms Baby Kale and AeroFarms Micro Super Mix, then add the sweet potato, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and avocado. Top with more AeroFarms Micro Super Mix and hummus.
Blueberry + Broccoli Smoothie
- 2 heaping handfuls of AeroFarms Micro Broccoli
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1 frozen banana, sliced
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups oat milk or water
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Stephanie Greenspan, MS, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in endocrinology and weight management in adults and pediatrics in Bergen County. She can be reached at [email protected].