Sunday, July 14, 2019

Veggies becoming popular restaurant fare

Vegetable meals are gaining popularity with several restaurant chains growing rapidly across the United States.

One of them is Sweetgreen which is using leading-edge technology throughout its supply chain – from farmers to clientele.

For example. Fortune magazine writes about Jim Ward and his Ward’s Berry Farm near Boston that uses a bat-shaped sensor anchored 36 inches into the soil in the centre of a field.

It has sensors tracking temperature, moisture, phosphorous, potash, nitrogen and pH and feeding that information every 15 minutes into the cloud where Ward can use his smart phone to download the data anytime and anywhere he chooses.

He said it certainly beats sending a soil sample off for nitrogen analysis and waiting three weeks for the results.

Sweetgreens also keeps track of what’s happening and together they aim to harvest at the peak of readiness and flavour.

Ward said the data has shattered a few of his long-held beliefs, such as that tomatoes are at their peak when they are picked; in fact he has learned that their peak flavour develops three to five days later.

But it confirmed that temperatures below 50 degrees are poor for growth, development and flavour.

Sweetgreen is big on flavour because it has learned from experience that customers respond more to taste and enjoyment experience than factors such as being politically-correct, organic, GMO free, etc.

Clientele do appreciate knowing details about the salad ingredients in their $12 meals served in a bowl, such as what variety was planted when, the name and location of the farmer and the growing history.

All of that is available through blockchain technology which, incidentally, can be used when a food safety issue arises to promptly pinpoint exactly what batch poses the risk and where it now is located.

In November Sweetgreen raised $200 million through the sale of shares; that boosted the company’s overall share value to more than $1 billion for the business it expects to grow to 110 restaurants  by the end of the year.

Ward got Sweetgreen’s technology package for “a few hundred dollars,” Fortune reported, and it’s a package that can be adopted by farms of almost any size and scale.

That has enabled Sweetgreen to source its ingredients from a large number of suppliers both large and small.