Humans love to eat. More to the point, they need to eat to survive. And on top of that, not just any food will do.
More and more, we're looking to so-called 'super foods'—these are foods like chia seeds or dark leafy greens that are full of specific vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. (No, sorry. French fries do not qualify as a super food ... yet.)
As the demand increases for these types of foods, farmers need to find ways to grow more of them. And a company in Japan called Murakami Farm has just built a facility that aims to do just that. Called the Super Sprout Factory, it specializes in growing broccoli sprouts.
And it does so without any sunlight at all.
Sprouting into action
Before we get into how it works, you might be wondering, what is so super about broccoli sprouts?
These little guys are prized because they're packed with a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is linked to a healthy heart and good digestion. It is also most potent when eaten in raw vegetables.
So while it can also be found in broccoli and cabbage, sprouts have a very high concentration of the compound. And they are a really convenient way of eating the compound raw. Just pop a few on your salad or on top of your meal and away you go!
Visit the factory
Now let's check out how this Super Sprout Factory works.
The factory uses artificial lighting and hydroponics (water-based, soil-free growing) to grow massive amounts of sprouts. The plastic growing cylinders are clear, have four chambers, and can be rotated so workers can easily harvest the sprouts once they are full grown. All of the cylinders are monitored by a central computer system, which ensures that temperature, water, and lighting are kept at ideal levels for growing.
Though this technology is not new, the size of this factory is. It is the largest facility of its type in Japan. And the factory is still being improved upon—Murakami Farm hopes to triple its sprout production.
Is this the farm of the future? Not all veggies can be grown as easily in a factory but it looks like we will see more of these facilities sprouting up soon.
And maybe, one day, not just here on Earth! Space sprouts, anyone?