Sprouts and Wheatgrass Production and Marketing

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Sprouts and Wheatgrass Production and Marketing

  1. 1. SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS 800-346-9140 PRODUCTION AND MARKETINGAppr i e Technol Tr opr at ogy ansf f Rur Ar er or al eas HORTICULTURE PRODUCTION GUIDE ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information center funded by the USDA’s Rural Business -- Cooperative Service.By Alice E. Beetz and powered by solar panels. The difference inNCAT Agriculture Specialist capital investment for these operations, of course, also varies from relatively low to veryABSTRACT high.Sprouted vegetable seeds and Productioncereal grains are increasing inpopularity in restaurants and Sprouts are produced bygroceries. Two production first soaking the seeds ofmethods are used, but each type a selected vegetable at aof seed has optimal growth particular temperaturerequirements. Food safety has for a certain length ofbecome an issue because of time. Each type of seedseveral cases of bacterial has different temperaturecontamination in recent years. and soak-timeEven as the new industry requirements.addresses these challenges, Sproutman Publicationsresearch has shown anti-cancer (1) offers the “Turn theactivity in some types of Dial Sprout Chart” forsprouts. Sources of seeds and of about $10. It providesspecific production information are included in this detailed information for most seeds. Otherpublication. Electronic and other resources are also sprouting books listed in the “Books” section atlisted. the end of this letter also describe optimal growth conditions for common types.Introduction After the soak period, seeds are drained andSprouts have become a familiar item in salad rinsed, and then begin to sprout. They must bebars and in the produce sections of grocery rinsed at frequent intervals until they reach thestores. Sprouts have been produced on a range desired size. Those sprouts for which color is aof scales, from growers using trash cans and desirable marketing quality must be exposed togallon jars on home-built racks to very high- light toward the end of this period to developtech, large-scale production using insulated chlorophyll in the seed leaves.rotating bins that are controlled by computers Introduction .................................................................... 1 Further Information ...................................................4 Production....................................................................... 1 References....................................................................4 Organic Production........................................................ 2 Enclosures....................................................................4 Sanitation......................................................................... 2 Seed Sources................................................................5 Brassica Sprouts ............................................................. 3 Equipment Sources.....................................................5 Sprouted Grains ............................................................. 3 Books ............................................................................5 Marketing........................................................................ 4 Books on Cereal Grasses............................................6 ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 1
  2. 2. When sprouts are ready for harvest, they must Government regulations that apply tobe quickly cooled and, in some cases, the hulls production processes and facilities are beingmust be removed. Excess water is removed and examined and may become more stringent.they are packed for market. Storage of sprouts Growing sprouts has been defined by the Foodmust be in the correct temperature range to and Drug Administration (FDA) as a foodcompletely remove "field heat" and to ensure a processing activity, not an agricultural one. Asfresh product. a result, FDA (not USDA) regulates the produc- tion process and the facilities in which sproutsEvery sprouting operation has its own are grown. Further information on food safetymodifications of these basic procedures. To related to sprout production can be found atlearn more, a visit to a sprout business is very http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/foodborn.htmlinstructive. Its possible, however, that someone or contact ISGA.who has gone to the expense of developing asuccessful sprout-growing system may be The International Sprout Growers Associationreluctant to host a potental competitor and give (ISGA) (2), the trade association for commercialaway "trade secrets." producers, has been closely monitoring the situation. This organization is in contact withOrganic Production the FDA and is funding research to help resolve it. Anyone considering commercial productionGrowing sprouts organically depends entirely should contact Jay Louie, vice president ofupon the ability of the producer to achieve ISGA, to learn more about the current status ofadequate levels of sanitation using materials these sanitation concerns.approved by the certifying organization. Untilthe development of consistent national organic According to the enclosed article from Thestandards, each individual must address this Sprouter’s Journal, contamination is often fromissue according to the rules under which he or the seed itself. Salmonella spp., Bacillus cereus,she is currently certified. For more information, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria spp. havecall ATTRA and request Organic Certification. been found on seed coats. Escherichia coli, however, results from contaminated water orSanitation contact with manure from warm-blooded animals (rodents and birds) during production or storage or in the rinse water. Since bacterialCareful attention to correct temperature, light, populations thrive under normal sproutand moisture conditions is critical for consistent growing conditions, seed sanitation isharvests. The environment necessary for sprout absolutely essential to ensure a pathogen-freeproduction is also favorable to the growth of product.fungal and bacterial contaminants. Therefore,sanitation during production and harvest areextremely important. In addition, since sprouts Jay Louie of ISGA reports that the mostare very perishable, proper postharvest storage successful seed treatment so far is seedtemperature, handling, and packaging are chlorination. He suggests that a 20,000 ppmequally critical. calcium hypochlorite solution is most reliable, but only California has approved use at this concentration. In most other states, theAn increasing number of cases of foodborne maximum concentration that can be legally usedillness have been traced to the consumption of is 2,000 ppm. Mr. Louie noted that research hasraw sprouts. As a result, the Food and Drug shown hydrogen peroxide and ozone treatmentsAdministration (FDA) issued an advisory in to be less effective, but irradiation looksAugust, 1998, for children, the elderly, and promising. Attempts to use steamthose with compromised immune systems pasteurization have proved successful on largeragainst eating raw sprouts. ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 2
  3. 3. seeds. With alfalfa and other small seeds, The production of sprouted grains begins withhowever, germination is compromised at a soaking the grain until the root radicle emergestemperature very close to that which destroys from the seed coat. Seeds are then placed on abacteria. saturated mixture of soil and peat moss or vermiculite. The seeds grow in the dark at firstBrassica Sprouts and then, after two or three days, they are exposed to light. Harvest begins just before theThere is considerable interest in the use of second pair of leaves appears, usually about daybroccoli and other brassica sprouts for health 8. The result looks like a small, lush lawn.benefits. In the fall of 1997, research at Johns Sprouts are either cut with scissors or a knifeHopkins Hospital proved that they contain just above soil level or are pulled out with thesulphoraphane. This compound acts as an anti- roots. If they are cut, there is often a secondcancer agent by encouraging the body to attack harvest during the next week. Several books ondangerous chemicals that can cause malignancy. the subject are listed below.Although this substance had previously beenidentified in brassica vegetables themselves, it Shallow trays are often used to grow thesehas now been shown to be 50% more cereal “grasses.” Sometimes production is in aconcentrated in the sprouts. greenhouse. The greenhouse method begins with laying thermal tubing on top ofIn response to increased consumer demand, the polystyrene, which rests on the ground. This isneed for untreated broccoli seed suitable for covered with black plastic. Thermal tubingsprouting also boomed. Almost immediately, distributes heat from hot water heaters andhowever, Brassica Protection Products (BPP) of functions as a root-zone heating system. Next, aBaltimore, a company including the researchers layer of compost or soilless potting mix is laidwho documented the presence of on top of the plastic about an inch deep. Soakedsulphoraphane, patented the process of grains are spread on top of the compost mixtureharvesting all brassica sprouts. BPP claimed making sure each is in contact with the soil. Thethat they wanted to ensure high and consistent seeds are kept moist by watering as needed.quality of sprouts in the marketplace. Within a week the sprouted grains will be ready for harvest.ISGA hired a lawyer to investigate the legal Kevin King (3) is a manager at Pinesramifications of this patent on producers not International, a large cooperative in Kansascertified by BPP. Jay Louie of ISGA reported which produces wheat grass juice tablets. In anthat the patent appears to have been granted article about the Pines operation, Mr. Kingeven though the harvest process had clearly distinguishes between the wheatgrass harvestedbeen in use before that time. This legal concept, at about one week to ten days and his product,called “prior art,” apparently would render a which is harvested at the “jointing” stage. Mr.suit against uncertified harvest of broccoli King is very knowledgeable about the entiresprouts impossible to win. Mr. Louie is not production system, from growing the wheat inaware of any broccoli sprout producers that the field, through dehydration and storage, to thehave been challenged by BPP. production of the tablets. Although he is a busy man, he will consult with people who haveSprouted Grains educated themselves about this type of enterprise but still have specific questions.Cereal grains may be sprouted hydroponicallyas described above. An alternative method is to Additional literature references on hydroponicgrow the seeds in shallow beds of soil. Wheat, cereal production and sprouted grain nutritionoats, rye, and barley are most commonly grown and technology are listed in the books sectionthis way, but buckwheat, sunflower, and below. These books are generally available atamaranth seed are also suitable. health food stores or directly from the publisher. ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 3
  4. 4. Marketing visit to the ISGA website or a call to their toll- free number will provide further information.In any sprouting business adequate marketing A membership in this organization will ensuremust complement attention to the details of continuing updates on sanitation and otherproduction. The local grocer may be interested issues facing the industry.in selling sprouts, or a restaurant might want toserve them, once a reliable, year-around supply Some research has been funded by theis guaranteed. The producer or a designated companies that sell seeds and equipment foremployee must personally create and sustain commercial sprout production, such asgood business relationships in order to maintain International Specialty Supply (ISS) (4). Thesethese types of direct markets. Further companies also usually provide productioninformation on these techniques can be found in information and consultation to their customers.the ATTRA publication Direct Marketing, A list of sprouting seed suppliers is provided atavailable upon request. the end of this publication.If production is on a large scale, it may be References:necessary to sell through a wholesale market. Ihave enclosed a description of the sprout market 1) Sproutman Publicationsfrom the 1998 Produce Availability & P.O. Box 1100Merchandising Guide. Also included is a list of Great Barrington, MA 01230wholesalers, separated by state. Current price (413) 526-5200 ext. 4 http://www.Sproutman.cominformation is available on the USDAAgricultural Marketing Service Website, 2) International Sprout Growers Assn.http://www.ams.usda.gov. Click on “search,” P.O. Box 2214type in “sprouts,” and find the information for Amherst, MA 01004-2214your terminal market. (800) 448-8006 (413) 253-6965 (FAX)Further Information http://www.isga-sprouts.orgThere is little university research about growing 3) Kevin King Pines Internationalsprouts. However, it may be productive to P.O. Box 1107contact the state horticulture Extension Lawrence, KS 66044specialist for available information. The county (913) 841-6016, ext. 427Extension office can provide that person’s name http://www.wheatgrass.comand address. 4) International Specialty Supply (ISS)ISGA, the International Sprout Growers 820 East 20th St.Association (2), is a trade association for Cookeville, TN 38501commercial producers. Membership includes a (931) 526-1106subscription to their newsletter, Sprouter’s http://www.ucbd.com/iss/catalog/ /catalog.htmlJournal. Other benefits of membership arebriefly listed in the enclosed print-out of ISGA’shome page on the World Wide Web. The Enclosures:organization seems determined to help its Anon. 1998. Sprouts. 1998 Produce Availability &members meet the challenge of producing and Merchandising Guide. The Packer, Overland Park,marketing safe, pathogen-free sprouts. KS. p. 401-403.“Strategies for Food Safety” was the title of theninth annual conference held in San Diego in B., L. 1993. A tale of two sprout growers: FloridaAugust of 1998. In addition, ISGA has funded business keeps expanding just to meet regionalseveral research projects at US universities. A demand. Growing for Market. May-June. p. 1, 15. ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 4
  5. 5. Buescher, R.W. and Jau-Shone Chang. 1982. Johnny’s Selected SeedsProduction of mung bean sprouts. Arkansas Farm Foss Hill Rd.Research. January-February. 1 p. Albion ME 04910 (207) 437-9294Feng, Peter. 1998. A summary of background (800) 437-4290information and foodborne illness associated with the http://www.johnnyseeds.comconsumption of sprouts. The Sprouter’s Journal. e-mail: sprouts@johnny-seeds.comSummer. p. 14-15. The Sprout HouseInternational Sprout Growers Association 17267 Sundance Drivepromotional materials. 2 p. Ramona, CA 92065 (800) SPROUTSMeyerowitz, Steve. n.d. One week from seed to (760) 788-7979 FAXsalad. Excerpt from “Turn the Dial Sprout Chart.”1 p. Equipment Sources:Meyerowitz, Steve. n.d. Why alfalfa sprouts are still Caudill Seed Co.safe and healthy. 1 p. 1201 Story Ave. Louisville, KY 40206Pugh, Terry. 1995. Markets germinating for (502) 583-4402sprouting seeds. Synergy. Winter. p. 16-18. International Specialty SupplySeed Sources: 820 E. 20th St. Cookeville, TN 38501American Health & Nutrition (800) 277-76883990 Varsity DriveAnn Arbor, MI 48108 Creative Craftsman(800) 992-1818 X 18 or 19 38 Fourteenth St. Buckhead Ridgee-mail: ahn@organictrading.com Okeechobee, Florida 34974 (941) 467-6696Caudill Seed Co. http://www.autosprout.com1201 Story Ave.Louisville, KY 40206 Books:(502) 583-4402 (These books are widely available in health food stores. Otherwise, contact publishers at the phoneDover Sales numbers indicated.)1111 Greenwood Dr.Peidmont, OK 73078(405) 373-2850 Braunstein, Mark M. 1993. The Sprout Garden. The(405) 373-2853 FAX Book Publishing Company, Summertown, TN. 128 p. ISBN: 1-57067-0730. $12.95.Hazel Ridge Farm Call for availability: (800) 695-2241.P.O. Box 268Shellbrook, SK Kulvinskas, Viktoras P. 1979. Sprout for the Love ofCANADA S0J2E0 Everybody: Nutritional Values of Sprouts and(800) 263-4490 Wheatgrass. Twenty-first Century Publications,(306) 747-3618 FAX Fairfield, IA. 155 p. $8.95. Call for availability: (800) 593-2665.International Specialty Supply820 E. 20th St. Larimore, Bertha B. 1975. Sprouting For All Seasons:Cookeville, TN 38501 How and What to Sprout, Including Delicious,(800) 277-7688 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes. Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, UT. 139 p. ISBN: 0-88290-0552. ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 5
  6. 6. Meyerowitz, Steve. 1998. Sprouts: The Miracle Food: Seibold, Ronald L. 1990. Cereal Grass: What’s in it The Complete Guide to Sprouting. Sproutman for You! Wilderness Community Education Publications, Great Barrington, MA. Foundation, Lawrence, KS. 142 p. $9.95. ISBN: 1-878736-03-5. $12.95. To order: (800) 697-4637 Call to order: (800) SPROUTS. Wigmore, Ann. 1985. The Wheatgrass Book. Avery Wigmore, Ann. 1986. The Sprouting Book. Avery Publishing Group, NY. 144 p. $8.95. Publishing Group, NY. 128 p. $7.95. To order: (800) 548-5757 To order: (800) 548-5757 Books on Cereal Grasses: (These books are widely available in health food By Alice E. Beetz stores. Otherwise, contact phone numbers NCAT Agriculture Specialist indicated.) Meyerowitz, Steve. 1998. Wheatgrass: Nature’s Finest Medicine. Sproutman Publications, Great February 1999 Barrington, MA. ISBN: 1-878736-72-8. $12.95. To order: (800) SPROUTSTHE ATTRA PROJECT IS OPERATED BY THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY UNDER A GRANT FROMTHE RURAL BUSINESS-COOPERATIVE SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. THESE ORGANIZATIONS DO NOTRECOMMEND OR ENDORSE PRODUCTS, COMPANIES, OR INDIVIDUALS. ATTRA IS LOCATED IN THE OZARK MOUNTAINSAT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS IN FAYETTEVILLE AT P.O. BOX 3657, FAYETTEVILLE, AR 72702. ATTRA STAFFMEMBERS PREFER TO RECEIVE REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE VIA THE TOLL-FREENUMBER 800-346-9140. ATTRA // SPROUTS AND WHEATGRASS PRODUCTION & MARKETING Page 6

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