Steve Meyerowitz, “Sproutman”, Springtime in December – Get Off The Food Grid Now
Steve, “Sproutman,” is the author of several books on health, diet, and nutrition including Sprouts the Miracle Food, Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, and Wheatgrass Nature’s Finest Medicine. Steve is one of the world’s leading proponents of sprouting, juicing, fasting, wheatgrass, indoor gardening, raw foods, and pure water. You can visit him at www.Sproutman.com.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, we’re back! I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’re listening to It’s All About Food. And now we’re going to talk a little bit more about food because that’s what we do here right? And that’s why you’re listening. So, now, for some of us urban folks, and not so urban folks, if you want to grow some food easily, we’re going to talk about how to do that right now and I’m going to bring on Steve Meyerowitz, the Sproutman. He’s the author of several books on health, diet, and nutrition, including Sprouts – The Miracle Food, Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, and Wheatgrass – Nature’s Finest Medicine. He’s one of the world’s leading proponents of sprouting, juicing, fasting, wheatgrass, indoor gardening, raw foods, and pure water. His website is sproutman.com. Welcome Sproutman to It’s All About Food!
Steve Meyerowitz: It is a pleasure to be with you Caryn!
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you! I talked to you a few years ago and it’s been quite a while and I really enjoyed that conversation although it put me back a few dollars because after talking to you, I got one of those Tribest sprouters. And I’ve been using it ever since, so I’m wondering what is this show going to cost me!
Steve Meyerowitz: Well, good health is priceless!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, there you go!
Steve Meyerowitz: And the same with quality food. And those of us who live in the northeast, we’re now in December. It’s a tough time to get fresh food with the vitality that we got used to over the summer.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it is.
Steve Meyerowitz: So, my concept really is one of the few ways and certainly the most inexpensive way to bring springtime into the homes of northeasterners and northerners everywhere in the middle of December.
Caryn Hartglass: Springtime for northeasterners in December!
Steve Meyerowitz: It has a ring to it! So let’s produce it!
Caryn Hartglass: There we go! Let’s put on a show, and grow sprouts! The one thing that I enjoyed when I got my Tribest sprouter was that I was able to grow sunflower sprouts which are my ultimate favorite kind and I never thought that I could without dirt.
Steve Meyerowitz: Yes, it’s very interesting but these baby plants mature. We eat them at the seedling stage, so they’re only about a week old give or take. And at that stage, the roots are not mature enough to go into the soil and convert the minerals there into an organic form that the plant can uptake. Therefore, the soil provides a structural bed for the plant but doesn’t actually provide all those minerals until later on when the roots are much longer and that’s what happens when you plant outdoors and the root systems really go down deep. That’s why in outdoor gardening, plants mature in like 90 days on average and we only grow them for approximately 7 days. So the plants we grow get most of their nutrition from the seed itself and from the water by osmosis. So the quality of the water is important. But actually these plants are so concentrated at this early stage of their life that the nutrition in them is anywhere from 50-100 times more concentrated than it is for the mature outdoor vegetable even if it’s organically grown. So we don’t have to worry so much about the nutrition or even the quality of water although I recommend to everyone that we use water that we feel is suitable for drinking. But that aside, growing in your kitchen in an apartment building, you don’t want to get involved in soil and all the extra steps that are involved in bringing it in and taking it out and composting. When I started out, Dr. Ann Wigmore who was one of my mentors, one of the people who inspired me, she had us working compost buckets in our kitchens with worms in them.
Caryn Hartglass: Which many people today don’t want to have anything to do with – worms, eww!
Steve Meyerowitz: She got the diehard, she got the devotee, she got the people who were too sick to do anything else but follow her word by the letter. But it’s not necessary. If you’re going to grow alfalfa sprouts in water, then you can also grow wheatgrass in water, and sunflower, and buckwheat, all of them micro greens. Because some of these things that I promote for growing can grow 10-12 inches tall like the pea shoots and the sunflowers and the buckwheat and the wheat grass. Those are all called micro greens because they’re so tall and big.
Caryn Hartglass: Should I be growing them 12 inches tall?
Steve Meyerowitz: That depends on the quality of the seed and the time that you sow. So if you’re going to grow them 7-8 inches, you’re going to need 8 days to 10 days. And you’re going to need warmer weather and you’re going to need good quality seed.
Caryn Hartglass: So it’s okay to do that, to grow them tall.
Steve Meyerowitz: The micro greens take a little longer, so that’s why I say 7 days give or take. The micro greens are more like 10 days on average. Wheatgrass I like to grow for 12 days, that’s pretty long.
Caryn Hartglass: How do you recommend harvesting them and what do you do with the roots?
Steve Meyerowitz: Well, the roots on the micro greens can get too chewy. We have a situation where they’re so chewy they’re not delectable anymore. So what we do is we cut them off just above the roots so you’re only eating the shoots. And the shoots for pea shoots, I like to dice up so that they’re crispy and crunchy in a salad. And I dice up the sunflowers as well, even though they’re more delicate.
Caryn Hartglass: And you just get rid of the roots? Do you ever eat them?
Steve Meyerowitz: I add them to my compost. The roots are certainly clean enough to eat. They’re just a little more fibrous. And sometimes if the plants are not that healthy, the root systems are not that clean. So it’s good to cut above. That’s what we do when we harvest outdoors. We cut above the roots when we cut at the ground level. So that’s perfectly fine to do even in a no soil environment. But otherwise when we’re talking about the baby greens like alfalfa and clover, radish, broccoli, cabbage, kale. All of those, you can eat the roots and all because the roots are very thin, very tender, and you just want to rinse them clean so there’s no shells on them. And those roots are very edible. They’re not so fibrous like the micro greens.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I have one of these that I mentioned before, the Tribest sprouter that you plug in and it automatically waters it all day which makes it a lot easier. But I don’t have anything stacked and I see that you can stack a few on top of each other and how does that work?
Steve Meyerowitz: It’s sort of crop rotation in gardening. Let’s say I start on Monday and I start with alfalfa and then it grows for a few days and on Thursday I decide I want to plant some broccoli. So alfalfa would move up to the top position because it’s now 4 days old and it’s ready to start getting some light. And the broccoli is just starting out. It can go on the bottom level. So that’s how we would stagger the maturity time so they’ll all mature. Every few days you’ll get a crop.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, well, I just might have to get a few more of these to stack on top.
Steve Meyerowitz: Yes, there’s the more money you worried about!
Caryn Hartglass: There’s a conference coming up I heard about in New York and you’re a part of that. Can you tell me about that? I got an email about that.
Steve Meyerowitz: Yes. It’s called The Real Truth About Health. And they’ve got dozens of speakers including Cherie Soria and Brian Clement and myself and several other bright lights in the health, diet, and nutrition world. And I think you should be there Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: You do! Well, maybe I will!
Steve Meyerowitz: It’s at the Millennium Hotel on 42nd street and you know it’s just one of those good gatherings and if you don’t happen to live in the New York City area, you can attend by live streaming.
Caryn Hartglass: Live streaming is good. I’m just looking at the names of the people that are going to be there and I’ve talked to most of them on this show, all my favorites! Dr. Clement and Jeffery Smith and Richard Oppenlander, who’s going to be here in January. And Michael Gregor is going to be on the show in January and Cheria Soria and Dan Ladermann, I haven’t seen them in a decade. I’m sure they’re looking good because they’re fueled on raw foods, right?
Steve Meyerowitz: Yeah, there’s a lot of us who’ve been proponents of living foods for a long time and mostly, I think it’s partially, in opposition to all the canned and frozen and boxed foods that has become a staple of the American diet and I call it corporate food. The corporations have really overwhelmed the availability of food and kind of deemphasized fresh food and de-emphasized the kitchen time – spending time in your kitchen preparing food versus the fast food or prepared foods like the frozen food. So you know, I think we’ve got our priorities upside down.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. I think I can hear Jack Lalanne shouting out from wherever he is in the afterlife – if it’s manmade don’t eat it! And then there’s me who’s always saying ‘Find your kitchen’!
Steve Meyerowitz: I think we were all healthier back in our grandparent’s kitchen when food was prepared and we ate fresh. We ate it from grandma. We didn’t eat it from a box or a can and that makes a difference in our health. And I think we can see the results of corporate food when you look at the cardiovascular disease, the cancer, the diabetes, the obesity. That’s the result of corporate food.
Caryn Hartglass: A couple of things about sprouts. Some people are nervous about eating sprouts because there’s been some bad press about it. Can you educate us on what we should or should not be concerned about? There were too many negatives in there I think but I think you understand what I’m talking about.
Steve Meyerowitz: Yeah, there’s been some food safety scares because of Salmonella and E.coli and those things make a lot of bad press and sadly, the sprouting industry is a poor industry, unlike the meat and poultry. They can’t stand up, and they don’t have PR and they can’t stand up in the press and defend themselves. But here’s the thing to know about Salmonella and E.coli. They originate in the intestines of pigs and cows and sheep. This is not something that originates with a fruit or a vegetable. Tomatoes don’t come with Salmonella even though there has been an outbreak with tomatoes and spinach doesn’t come and sprouts don’t come that way. We don’t generate these pathogens. However, we can be contaminated by them. So even if a farmer gets it on his shoe and he walks into a truck and that truck is distributing vegetables as well as meats, there is cross-contamination. The seed can also get contaminated. In the sprout industry, we’re very careful to test everything. So if you were to visit my website on seeds, you would see that I test everything. It is lab tested. I test for the quality of seed too because I want to make sure when you’re growing my sprouts, you’re going to get really tall, green, delicious sprouts with high germination counts. But I also send them out to the lab to test for Salmonella and E.coli. And we’d actually take samples. It’s actually a flute-like pole that goes into the bag and we twist it and pull it out and we’ve sampled that entire bag. It’s about a 22-inch flute and we do that with every bag and we grow all that stuff and we test the rinse water from the growing of those sprouts and that’s what is lab tested. And they say that’s 99.9%. There’s no such thing as a 100% guarantee when we’re talking about microbiology.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now, there are companies out there like Monsanto and DuPont and Syngenta that are manipulating our seeds in ways that some people don’t think is a very good idea – genetic modification. And they’re buying up a lot of seed companies. So are there any safe seeds out there?
Steve Meyerowitz: Yes, thankfully, we still have the certified organic movement and there’s also a smaller non-GMO certification. So if you look at my seeds, you’ll see I sell strictly certified organic seeds and that is really the only guarantee. That and the non-GMO certification that our seeds come from that kind of source.
Caryn Hartglass: And Monsanto hasn’t tried to buy up your source?
Steve Meyerowitz: Yes, Monsanto has tried to buy up more and more fields and they try to take control and it’s elevating, artificially increasing, the price of seed everywhere because there’s fewer and fewer farms where we can grow organic seed. So it’s having a bad effect overall and I think it’s really misguided and I think it’s dangerous and 20-30-40 years from now, we might have the proof of the dangers of genetic modification. But at this point, it’s a struggle to keep our seeds safe and to keep the original seeds intact and protected.
Caryn Hartglass: So how many pounds, ounces of sprouts do you grow a week?
Steve Meyerowitz: I can give you some numbers. One pound of alfalfa seeds, for example, will yield a minimum of 10 pounds of greens. That’s alfalfa greens.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a lot of greens!
Steve Meyerowitz: Yeah, because when you think of a head of lettuce, that’s about three quarters of a pound on average. So when I put 6 tablespoons of seeds in the sprouting tray of my Freshlife sprouter, that will yield approximately three-quarters of a pound of greens. So alfalfa greens, or clover greens, or broccoli, or kale, these are all just baby leaves. So instead of having one large leaf from, say romaine lettuce, I’m having hundreds of these baby leaves. And they’re much more delicate and really delicious. The flavors are very pronounced. Broccoli is a much more pronounced flavor of broccoli. Radish is a very pronounced radish flavor. Radish lovers just love it. I can grow chives which have a really garlicky flavor to them. So there’s all of these wonderful flavors and tastes and when you think about it, a pound of alfalfa seed is approximately $10. So if you grow 10 pounds from it, then that’s a cost of $1 a pound for your organic greens. And you know, what can you buy at the produce stand that’s organic that costs only a dollar a pound?
Caryn Hartglass: Nothing, and it’s not as fresh as growing it at home.
Steve Meyerowitz: Sadly, that’s the sad truth, because at this time of the year, if you live in the northeast where you and I do, you’ve got to bring in these greens from the Salinas valley of California and it takes several days before it actually makes it to the east coast wholesale markets and then it takes a couple of days before your market purchaser brings it in and they don’t always put it out the first day they get it in because they want to get rid of the last shipment first. So they’ll put it out. But when do you and I actually arrive there? When we buy it, it may already be a week old. So it’s lost some of that vitality that I mentioned before and we need that vitality for our health.
Caryn Hartglass: And the sprouts have more nutrition in them. They’re concentrated nutrition like broccoli sprouts. We know how healthy broccoli is but concentrated broccoli sprouts are like power houses.
Steve Meyerowitz: Right. And the original research, there’s tons of research on this. If you open up my book Sprouts – The Miracle Food, you can see all of the university research, I mean lots of it. If you just Google, well, actually you could go to my website on the blog and look at broccoli sprouts and cancer or just Google broccoli sprouts and cancer and you’ll see all this research because broccoli sprouts, for example, and that’s just one of them, they produce approximately 50-100 times more of this anti-cancer enzyme called sulforaphane than mature organic broccoli contains even if you would have grown it in your backyard. So these are basically seedlings and as seedlings, they contain a higher concentration of nutrients because remember what I said earlier, they contain all the nutrition necessary in the seed for the development of a mature vegetable.
Caryn Hartglass: Concentrated broccoli sprouts, that was another kind of sprouts that I had a hard time sprouting before and I thought I needed to do it in dirt and now I’m able to grow them in the Freshlife sprouter and when I went through my ovarian cancer experience back 7 years ago now, I took concentrated broccoli sprouts supplements, but now that I can grow my own broccoli sprouts, I’ve got all of this great anti-cancer nutrition any time I want it, which is a beautiful thing! And we’re at the end of the show Steve! So I wanted to thank you for joining me, and if anybody is interested, they can find out more at Sproutman.com. Check the events tab to find out about this Real Truth About Health conference coming up in January if you’re in the New York area, and thank you Steve!
Steve Meyerowitz: Alright, let’s keep thinking green all winter long!
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds good! I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. I wanted to mention just in a few seconds at responsibleeatingandliving.com, we have a brand new design and please visit my website soon and often and let me know what you think. email@example.com is my email and have a delicious week! Bye!
Transcribed by Jyothi Parimi, 1/22/2014