Recall a recent grocery errand experience. Visualize your course around the store and the items you amassed in the shopping cart. How many pre-made, packaged, and frozen goods occupy the aisles of your neighborhood supermarket?

Executive Sous Chef Nick Rusticus maintains that a figure of approximately eighty percent represents the “ready-to-go” market. According to The Center for Food Safety, among the processed foods stored on supermarket shelves, seventy-five percent contain genetically engineered ingredients. Rusticus, who enjoys artisanal bakery, comments that apart from the authentic contents of rustic bread (flour, salt, water and yeast), there exist at least ten non-organic supplements in supermarket “Whole Wheat” bread loaves.

Rusticus wants people to know where their food comes from. He gardens and harvests produce with Arizona Microgreens, a statewide supplier of organic, nutrient-rich vegetable greens. The Arizona Microgreens’ 13,000-sq-ft greenhouse facility functions as “a collaborative, hands-on learning laboratory.”

Founders Joseph Martinez and David Redwood defend the importance of Arizona Microgreens as a transparent site for food production. Martinez upholds the facility as an “active, trans-disciplinary site” to which everyone may contribute. According to Redwood, the microgreens are an active demonstration of why the greenhouse facility is impactful in a neighborhoods like South Phoenix and beyond:

“There’s a lot to enjoy about growing microgreens. With the rapid growth cycle comes great results. As a product, I just love them – [they are] very tasty and packed with nutrition. Microgreens bring a new enjoyment to people in the kitchen of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. People can engage with it very quickly.”                       

“The [younger] kids [that visit] think grocery store food came from a factory, as if [the grocery stores] are just printing it out,” Rusticus says. By handing out pea shoots and sunflower sprouts, the Arizona Microgreens team is introducing options for consumers. Rusticus shares, “I can just walk around with them, just eating [them] like chips”. Arizona Microgreens adheres to a schedule that rotates according to planting and harvesting trends; maturation of seed to sprouted plants narrowly warrants two weeks time. “We’re constantly in a short term growth cycle, but the honest picture of what we’re doing is long term,” insisted Redwood. In the meantime, students from institutions such as the Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability engage with the greenhouse and help make it a success.

We’re not farmers … I call myself a grower. – David Redwood, Co-founder, Arizona Microgreens

[1] “About Genetically Engineered Foods,” Center for Food Safety,
[2] Arizona Microgreens,

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Editor’s Note: Diamond Troutman has traveled and lived quite extensively experiencing culture in California, New York, Paris, and now currently, Arizona. Diamond came to us with the idea to publish a column that supports the role of cuisine as a “force of unity and enjoyment” here on Check out her feature here and article series here.