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A Sprout Garden for Every Kitchen

A Sprouting Superhero Reveals Secrets for Growing Delicious Organic Sprouts.

Sprouts The Miracle Food: The Complete Guide to Sprouting.
By Steve Meyerowitz
Illustrated.208pp. Spoutman Publications. $12.95.

Steve Meyerowitz, AKA Sproutman, has helped the environment, saved money, cured allergies, asthma and other health conditions and fed hundreds with his self-proclaimed "miracle food": sprouts. So, it's no wonder he has come to be known as a sprouting superhero. In his book, Sprouts the Miracle Food, Meyerowitz passes along some of the sprouting knowledge which he has accumulated through several decades of producing sprouts of every imaginable variety, right in the kitchen of his Brooklyn apartment.

Myerowitz is, as one might guess from the shiny green Sproutman costume he is wearing in his author photo, a zealous advocate for the growing of sprouts by everyone, everywhere. His book certainly will further his cause: nearly every aspect of sprouting, form selecting seeds, to growing, storing and determining medicinal properties and nutritional value of various spout types is detailed in this book.

Although portions of this book focus on subjects such as pesticides, water quality and composting (Meyerowitz is also the author of The Organic Food Guide and Water the Ultimate Cure), which are only marginally related to small-scale sprout production, most of the book is dedicated to outlining Myerowitz's simple, inexpensive, efficient method for growing an abundance of sprouts in small spaces, such as home kitchens. This method is based on using various natural fiber baskets and bags as containers for growing sprouts. According to Myerowitz, growing simple sprouts such as lettuce requires only seed, counter space, 1-2 minutes of watering per day, normal indoor daylight, 5-10 day's time, a bamboo basket and a plastic bag-like greenhouse. In his words, that's "all it takes to have something most people will covet--an alternative source of fresh food."

What is notably lacking in this book is a good list of sprout recipes, or at least more detailed suggestions for foods and meals that are extraordinarily enhanced by the addition of sprouts, for those of us who haven't fully hopped onto the raw and whole foods bandwagon. Although there are probably many excellent sprout recipes in Spoutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook, another book by Myerowitz, the closest thing to cooking/recipe tips that I could find in this book is a mention of "snacks from sprouted peanuts, hummus dip from spouted green peas, Chinese suates from mung, adzuki and lentils, even sprouted wheat pizza!" and a few allusions to foods such as "Sunflower Sun-Cheese. Of course, Myerowitz's affection for sprouts seems to be such that he would have trouble imagining any meal that wouldn't be enhanced by a sizeable dollop of sprouts.

Emphasizing the nutritional and medicinal benefits of sprout consumption seems to be at the center of Meyerowitz's persuasive argument for sprouting. He backs up some his health claims with scientific data from sources such as the USDA and the National Cancer Institute. Other claims lack citations and are most likely drawn from the vast pool of anecdotal information regarding natural foods and medicinal herbs. However, what is likely to appeal to most readers of this book isn't the hardcore health information and raw data that is presented. It's Myerowitz's clear presentation of technical information: his instructions are clear, specific and concise. In fact, much of this book reads like an instruction manual for sprouting. It is easy to wish that Sproutman's kitschy enthusiasm were displayed more prominently throughout the book. The "Questions and Answer with Sproutman" and the "Sprout Oath" which includes a pledge to "stick to my roots, serve and be served [and] be sproutful and multiply" showcase some of the Sproutman persona, more of which would almost certainly enhance this book.

All in all, Sprouts the Miracle Food is a well-researched, informative book that is sure to be a useful guide for health or environmentally-conscious folks who are looking for ways to produce their own healthful foods. After reading this book, readers will almost certainly want to try growing and eating sprouts, although most people still won't want to dress like a sprout. That's something that's probably best left to Spoutman anyhow.
 

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Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.