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Research Questions
The Nutritional and Elemental Analysis of Broccoli Microgreens
Supplemented with Milk versus Water
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  1. 1. Research Questions The Nutritional and Elemental Analysis of Broccoli Microgreens Supplemented with Milk versus Water Tanner Bringhurst, Brenda Renteria, Abdullah Aljadi Background Food is a primary source of energy for all organisms to live and thrive. However, on our rapid growing planet, it is projected that global food production will be required to double by 2050 in order to support the estimated global population of 9.7 billion (Ridgway et al. 2015). Many solutions have been proposed to solve this problem. One of the proposed solutions are microgreens. Migrogreens are edible seedlings of vegetables and herbs (Xiao 2012). They are well suited for growers because they can be harvested in a short period of time 7-14 days (Bliss 2014). In addition, they are relatively easy to grow and can even be grown at home (Treadwell 2010). Although there is some available information, there is still much more to be discovered about microgreens and if they can be considered as a solid solution to the global food source problem we will face by 2050. Another proposed solution is to find ways to reduce the waste of food. 20% of milk that consumers buy is wasted alongside many other food products (Gunders 2012). Is there a way to combine these two proposed solutions to fight off this inevitable problem? References 5.1 grams of broccoli microgreens were grown in a vermi compost mixture hydrated with 25 milliliters water (top row). 5.1 grams of broccoli microgreens were grown on a vermi compost mixture but were hydrated with 25 milliliters of milk instead (bottom row). Next, the broccoli microgreens were grown in a spectrophotometer for 7 days. The top row shows broccoli microgreens after incubation grown in the powdered milk and water solution. The bottom row depicts the broccoli microgreens grown in water after incubation. Microgreens grown in milk were hydrated first with 50 milliliters of milk and 65 milliliters of water later in a 7 day period. The microgreens grown in water were hydrated with a total of 115 milliliters of water in a 7 day period. The broccoli microgreens were cut from the vermi compost mixture as close to the compost mixture as possible without contaminating the samples, weighed, and prepared to be dehydrated in an oven for 48 hours at 78℃ under constant light of GE Plant and Aquarium Ecolux bulbs. After dehydration, the microgreens were grinded into a powder using a ceramic mortar and pestle and then reweighed. ● How does growing broccoli microgreens with milk vary in terms of an elemental and nutrient concentration compared to growing broccoli microgreens in water? ● Is microgreen cultivation a good enough resource to sustain humans due to depleting food resources? The samples were sent to Pennsylvania State University for nutrient and elemental analysis. Experimental Design Results Figure 1. Figure 1 shows a graph of the elemental composition of Potassium and Sulfur in broccoli microgreens grown with water, milk, and the mature broccoli. Broccoli microgreens grown in water contain the highest amounts of Potassium and Sulfur compared to the mature broccoli which has the lowest. Figure 2. Figure 2 shows a graph of the elemental composition of Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, and Sodium in broccoli microgreens grown in water, milk, and the mature broccoli. The microgreens grown in water show the greatest amount of each of the elements. Figure 3. Figure 3 shows a graph of the elemental composition of Manganese, Iron, Copper Boron, Aluminum, and Zinc in broccoli microgreens grown in water,milk, and mature broccoli. The mature broccoli had the highest amount of Manganese but overall each ratio of composition was mostly equivalent between the three samples. After elemental analysis, data obtained showed that broccoli microgreens grown in water, compared to broccoli microgreens grown in milk or the mature vegetable, contained greater levels of elements. Due to this, our data suggests that broccoli microgreens grown in water are a better source of elemental and nutritional supplement compared to the mature vegetable (Nutrition Facts: Broccoli, Raw) and microgreens grown in milk. In this experiment, a total of 115 mL of water was used to hydrate the broccoli microgreens compared to 34 gallons of water per pound needed to water a full grown broccoli plant (Boehrer) making it not only more nutritious, but environmentally friendly as well due to the much lower consumption of water. In addition, the area needed for the cultivation of broccoli microgreens and the avoidance of herbicides were very small compared to the large acres of land needed to grow the mature vegetable and use of herbicides commercially. Alongside this, broccoli microgreens hydrated with milk were greatly hindered and had to be hydrated with water in order to prevent death of the microgreens. Cultivation of these microgreens required only 7 days whereas a mature broccoli has a longer harvesting time, thus supporting our hypothesis. Growing broccoli microgreens is a great solution to sustain humans due to depleting food resources and rapid growing populations. Adding milk to the microgreens to avoid the waste of diary products and to boost nutritional levels was not found to be a solution. Bliss, R. M. (2014). Speciality Greens Pack a Nutritional Punch. Agricultural Research. 23 February 2016. Boehrer, K. “This is How Much Water it Takes to Make Your Favorite Foods.” Huffington Post.13 April 2015. Web. 6 March 2016. Gunders, D. (August 2012). Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40% of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. NRDC. 15 March 2016. IP:12-06-B. “Nutrition Facts: Broccoli, Raw.” Self Nutrition Data. 2014. Web. 14 March 2016. <www.nutritiondata.self.com> Ridgway, E. M. Lawrence, M. A. Woods, J. (2015). Integrating Environmental Sustainability Considerations into Food and Nutrition Policies: Insights from Australia’s National Food Plan. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2:29. Treadwell, D. D. Hochmuth, R. Landrum, L. Laughlin, W. (2010). Microgreens: A New Speciality Crop. University of Florida EDIS. February 23 2016. Xiao, Z. Lester, G. E. Luo, Y. Wang, Q. (2012). Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Mircogreens. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 60: 7644-7651. February 23 2016. Conclusions