In Japanese, “umami” literally means deliciousness.
While this term generally refers to flavor, we recently met up with a company in Zurich who are growing pleasurable delights in more ways than one. Here are the top reasons we are passionate about UMAMI and all they represent:
Once popular only among the jet-set who are presented with a meal garnished by a celebrity chef, microgreens have become mainstream with their nutritional profile being much more understood and sought after. Offering a higher concentration of essential oils, vitamins, proteins and minerals than in their mature form, microgreens are not to be confused with sprouts which are simply germinated seeds unable to provide maximum nutrients. To quote UMAMI, “Microgreens carry the concentrated energy that the plant needs to grow big and strong. The concentration of vitamins (especially vitamins A, E, C, K and B6), minerals (magnesium), trace elements (iron, zinc and potassium) and proteins is therefore many times higher in small plantlets than in the same amount of full-grown vegetables. In addition, they contain a lot of fiber and a lot of chlorophyll, which is known to be extremely healthy.”
The Urban Farm
Can we all quit life as we know it and become farmers? After receiving a tour of the new UMAMI facility weeks before they officially open to the public, we fell in love. Their microgreen varities are all grown with no chemicals in a very special ecosystem where plants and fish are living in perfect balance. Similar to traditional Aquaponic techniques (aquaculture + hydroponics) the crops are grown in a thriving environment governed by water and fertilized by fish whom are swimming happily in water that has been cleaned naturally by the plants. It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship perfected by nature and recreated in this urban environment. The result is a difference you can taste!
The Perks of Shopping Regional
After touring the urban farm where UMAMI Microgreens are grown, it took less than 10 tram stops in downtown Zurich to find them available in stores. The Rettich, Radiesli and Powermix were available in Globus at the time of this article…and they were nearly out of stock due to popular demand! UMAMI products can also be found for purchase at Jelmoli Food Market, Migros (in Zurich), Farmy.ch, and Roots Linteschergasse. While we are now stocking microgreens weekly at home, it’s a lovely treat to enjoy UMAMI perfectly presented at one of these 40+ restaurants.
Smarter Food Waste
To counteract food waste, UMAMI delivers their spare greens to Roots and sometimes invites people to come pick up excess microgreens for free at the urban farm (watch their Instagram Stories for details!). They also partnered with star chef Tobias Buholzer to create a Powermix Pesto and spicy “wasabi-like” radish mayonnaise. Both products are produced in his 16 GaultMillau point restaurant Die Rose in Rüschlikon and sold at a growing number of locations. We highly recommend the UMAMI Burger Set as a decadent excuse to try this product.
At their new facility next door to Turbinenbräu, the space is perfect for events. Why not have a little fun trying to match sprouts to their seeds in a fun tasting game during the apéro held in the production room, where they cut, pack and sow seeds each and every day. Afterwards, enjoy a meal prepared by in-house chefs made with ingredients produced right before your eyes.
We had the pleasurable opportunity to meet and taste all the sprouts with Sam (not pictured) who is one of 10 guys running this urban farm. Manu (L) could be charged as the brains behind the operation, as it’s his passion and understanding of nature that makes the ecosystem at UMAMI what it is today. He, Denis (centered) and Robin (R) have been friends since high school and and after encouraging Robin to return from South Africa and join the project…UMAMI was born 3.5 years ago. Together, they prove that ecology and economy can harmonize .
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Photos courtesy of UMAMIprint