What it Takes
To grow Good Sprouts for Market
Growing sprouts for market is easy to get into. But sustaining a thriving operation involves some serious considerations.
- Standards of excellence - This one single thing is the outright biggest missing element that has kept sprouts from becoming a mainstream food equal to lettuce, tomatoes and celery in the marketplace. For decades, a majority of people have declared that they "don't care for sprouts" or simply did not bother to even try them. The reason for this is that sprouts have been produced and packaged using grossly inferior methods. And what you might see in the biggest supermarkets might be sprouts that smell and taste less than wonderful. Great sprouts have been hard to find. But that will change when your exquisite excellent sprouts shock the world and riots ensue as people clamor to buy them. Then when your sprouts put the local supermarket sprouts to shame, they will become a deal maker for thousands, perhaps millions, of former sprout-haters who have become enthusiastic sprout lovers. The only reason so many people hate products like sprouts or tofu, is because they've never seen these products "done right".
- General commitment - Once you get rolling, you will have wholesale customers that depend on you. Grocers, restaurants, cafeterias and other buyers will expect your product to be available when they order more. You must therefore commit your daily life to sprouting.
- Location and Building - Before you can even begin commercial sprouting, you will need to own or lease a location where you can get serious about sprout production. Your location must meet any applicable local zoning codes and regulations. It must have a reliable and clean water supply, good drainage options and environment suitable for production.
- Health Dept. Approval - Commercial food production is regulated at national and local levels in most nations. In the USA, you would have to follow all FDA regulations. You should consult with any local health department to seek approval and guideline information in order to avoid the risk that they will shut you down later for complaiance failures. And your state health department might require you to have your weighing balances checked for accuracy. It's best to look into all this before you even select a location.
- General quality control - You must focus on quality constantly. One bad week and you may leave buyers without sprouts, causing them to look elsewhere. Quality control is based on many factors that you will need to observe and know by heart. When you excel at quality, customers will provide free word-of-mouth advertising.
- Good seeds - Good sprout production begins with seeds that are safe and viable, in that order. The meat industry, and especially factory farming, has managed to pollute water supplies and crops far and wide. In fact this industry has been one of the biggest dangers to American water and the environment. And some of that pollution, from animal waste, has tainted seed crops with bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella. Sprouts grown with tainted seeds have caused occasional outbreaks of illness. Sprouts were subsequently given an unfair bad reputation resulting from ignorant prejudices when the real blame should have been placed on much of the meat industry and sometimes the seed growers themselves. Sprout producers have largely been the victim of bad seeds. Today, most seed producers have become acutely aware of toxic irrigation dangers that can result from animal waste entering groundwater supplies from nearby feedlots or farms. And these seed producers have become more cautious for their own good. Commercial sprout producers are advised to keep a list of reputable seed sources and stick to those with no toxic issues. Beyond seed safety and preference for organic purity, sprout growers should look for seeds that deliver high viability and best quality. This can be done by means of timely observation and experience. But good seeds can also be judged by controlled scientific experiments, simply by comparing two or more simultaneous productions where all other factors are equal other than the seeds used. Good seed supplies must also be reliable to obtain and economical. And seeds might become less viable if they get too old. But generally, seeds like alfalfa can be stored for years and still produce great sprouts. It is advised that commercial sprouters use good seed storage practices as a bufer against shortages and to protect against moisture and pests. Always use the freshest, most viable and reputable seeds you can find. And as your production expands, be sure to document your seeds by linking specific seed batches to the resulting sprout batches. Over time, patterns will emerge and you will have some seed wisdom. Ideally, if you are a major sprout producer with some good land, you might even grow your own seeds to assure utmost organic excellence from the ground up. Otherwise, fear not, for there are some very conscientous and affordable seed sources out there.
- Good water - Water quality, temperature and reliability are huge factors in good sprout production. The bulk weight of all sprouts is comprised mostly of water. Water therefore is a big factor in sprout quality and taste, as well as food safety. A reliable urban water supply is a good start. Some rural well water supplies may always be at risk or outside contamination, putting your whole business at risk. Some urban supplies are better than others, depending on water sources and treatment. In most cities, water treatment is documented in excessive detail, revealing source conditions and any chemical additives such as fluoride or chlorine. You can begin by seeing if your city or town has a web site for the water department. Also beware any seasonal or transient conditions that may occasionally taint the local water supply. A good sprouting operation should always use the best and most comprehensive filtration available, regardless of whether you are a home grower or a huge production. At a minimum, a small operation should hook up some common filter cannisters like thouse found at large building suppliers. Water filtration can be complicated and require some serious study as a way to improve your quality control. But the best first step is to find a safe good quality reliable water supply right from the start. In certain geographical locations, those with a plentiful supply of excellent and tasteful water will find it a special advantage in growing the very best sprouts. Water temperature may also become a factor in places where the water can be too cold or too warm (like Phoenix, AZ) in producing sprouts commercially. Sometimes this can be remedied by using large underground storage tanks. Heating too-cold water or cooling too-warm water may become a prohibitive production expense in rare cases. But on average, decent sprouts can be grown anywhere that the water is good. And by all means, plumbing can affect your water quality starting at the curb. Try to avoid any location that has a lead coupling where the water main comes in from the curb. It may be very expensive to have it replaced. From that point, be sure to have good modern plumbing to assure that your water supply is not tainted from within. In addition to good water, be aware of your overall costs for water, sewage and in-house treatment, as these can all affact your bottom line. In most places water is not expensive. But in many places, it may be costly to reform water that's not up to snuff. This web site will offer some great web links on water quality, including many Wikipedia links. The best advice for any commercial sprouter is to build up some serious water wisdom over time.
- Branding - Any commercial sprouting operation, even home grown, should be creatively branded with a good name, good business relations and artful packaging. Many companies have built their brand by starting with a good tradename. From there, you must always show good faith and positive outreach in all business dealings, keeping your customers and consumers as happy as possible. Even more important, you must avoid anything bad that might make your brand get a negative reputation. And you must cultivate great packaging and brand recognition through artful graphics and photography. Branding may also involve press releases, promotional marketing or any number of other methods to get your image out there. To brand your company and product means to put your reputation on the line and make it so good that the public will defend it and speak nothing but good about it. It's easy to do good. But the negative side holds potential peril. Once you become a major company, every mistake you make may be magnified in the public spotlight. That's why it's best to build up a lot of goodwill with your consumers and wholesale buyers in advance.
- Legit production methods - Anyone can do commercial sprouting using common unpatented sprouting methods. However, some methods may be claimed as proprietery by inventors holding patents. Patent claims range from serious to nefarious, meaning that it's not uncommon for granted patents to have frivolous or unproven claims of originality in production specifics, such as how sprout devices irrigate or drain sprouts in production. Normally such claims will never be challenged unless there is a conflict of interest rising from a legal complaint. And this is not likely to occur unless your production involves infringement accusations after you get big enough to be noticed. Some sprouting methods are common. Sprouting has been done for thousands of years. And patents typically allow monopoly of a method for only about 17 years. Luckily, you can look up patents online through USPTO.gov and other websites and through local urban libraries. You are best advised to look at how other growers do their growing. Or consider some of the methods that will be described in this web site.
- Viable sprout production methods - Beyond using legit methods, how you grow sprouts is everything. And yet, this fact is overlooked by a huge percentage of sprouters on the market. To wit, many supermarket sprouts look and smell like rotted fungal infested grass because the growers of those sprouts have no grow-talent or wisdom. The actual physical structures and vessels used in sprout production are critical. And equally if not more critical, are the human methodologies of growing sprouts. Rest assured, this web site will show you some of the simplest methods for growing the world's best sprouts while also revealing some of the most important practices and things to watch.
- Math formulas and charts - Good commercial sprout production benefits when you have a means to compare one batch from another. Then if something goes wrong or goes right, you can usually figure out why. This web site will endeavor to work up some simple charting tables and math formulas that should be of help. Even commercial home/garage sprout growers should use a little math to keep an eye on sprout viability. This will often help alert you to negative conditions like bad seeds, bad water temperatures or ungainly production methods.
- Love - Many people who grows organic produce know that plants seem to benefit from direct love. Sprouts are baby plants. And we all know that babies benefit from tender loving care to reach their maximum potential. Love is an attitude that will yield the best sprouting results imaginable. Sprouts have a very delicate and sensitive nature requiring a well regulated aerobic environment, controlled physical conditions of warmth, light and moisture and tender handling. To grow exquisite sprouts, you should invest some love and energy into growing sprouts as a hobby, before you even think of starting a business. By the time you go into business, you should already have a thorough love for growing and eating sprouts.
- Visual representation - Quality-minded commercial sprouters have an unprecedented need and opportunity to benefit by visually projecting images of quality sprouts into the consumer eye. Many consumers never see sprouts in advertising. They don't see them on television or in magaazines. They are not commonly featured in local supermarket fliers. And shoppers may not even notice the tiny selection of sprouts offered at the largest supermarkets. This industry shortcoming is a huge opportunity for those who grow superior and attractive sprouts. You can produce photographic images of your sprouts that will tempt consumers far and wide. It is especially advisable to show images of sprouts in recipes to stir up appetites. But don't do it unless your sprouts are truly delicious and exquisite bathing beauties with extraordinary appeal. Your mission is to visually show that your sprouts are utterly irrestible, so they will soon be in the mouths of your discriminating and happy gourmet consumers. You can accomplish this with a high ticket Madision Avenue firm if you like. But even a home-based commercial grower with good sprouts and some photo skills can build up an imake bank with the convenience of a digital camera. Sprouts need to be seen more, in order to become part of consumer awareness. But in the end, taste and nutrition will certify the positive opinion sparked by your images.
- Recipes - Superior sprouts go can everywhere through delicious recipes. The more sprouts become familiar to home cooks and chefs, the more they will become a part of mainstream food culture. Consumers should be made aware that gourmet sprouts are fantastic in a wide variety of salads, warm soups, cool gaspacho, sandwhiches, vegetable stir fries, and so many other foods. The only reason you might fail to see many sprouts in recipes is because good sprouts have not been very common. So who would think of them as food? But when your exquisite gourmet sprouts shock the world, they will soon become a superstar of the vegetable kingdom in every home and kitchen.
- Culinar demonstration - Most commercial sprout growers would benefit by giving away free promotional samples of recipes containing generous amounts of really good fresh sprouts. This can be done by negotiating with local natural food markets and even supermarkets to allow you to set up a demo-table. you will need to come armed with plenty of food portioned into small free bite-size samples, so that each sampler can experience the ecstacy or your unique gourmet sprouts during their hungry shopping experience. Yoiu can also offer small printed items like coupons or recipes. It is imperative that your demo be humanly occupied, clean and tastefully presented with positive cheer. You can also display an alert tipping them to locate your sprouts in the specialty produce section.
Recipes - Superior sprouts go can everywhere through delicious recipes. The more sprouts become familiar to home cooks and chefs, the more they will become a part of mainstream food culture. Consumers should be made aware that gourmet sprouts are fantastic in a wide variety of salads, warm soups, cool gaspacho, sandwhiches, vegetable stir fries, and so many other foods. The only reason you might fail to see many sprouts in recipes is because good sprouts have not been very common. So who would think of them as food? But when your exquisite gourmet sprouts shock the world, they will soon become a superstar of the vegetable kingdom in every home and kitchen.
- Nutritional promotion - Notwithstanding the fact that great sprouts are delicious, they are also packed with nutrients. Traditional nutritional analysis may be inadequate to convey the nutrient value of sprouts because the sprouting industry could produce a far better product. If you are a commercial sprouter willing to invest in your own analysis, you might want to negotiate with someone who does analysis and be sure to make sure the sample is tested when it's very fresh. Otherwise, relying on traditional data, extract what you can and consider promoting the nutrient values on your labeling and in your ads. I am not versed on specific nutrients. I have always let my body guide me. But I can tell you honestly that exquisite fresh sprouts have a profoundly positive effect on human vitality and digestive constitution. And you won't find this food power in most other vegetables. Good sprouts have nutrition that you can really and truly feel. That's important, especially to people who analyze what they eat. But a well-nourished tongue knows excellent nutrition through gourmet taste. You can taste mountains of nutrition in good sprouts.