Opinion_ Almost 1 in 4 Iowans eat lower than 1 vegetable per day. This drive-through might assist.

Iowans might use some assist with “lively dwelling and wholesome consuming.”

Solely 27.1% of grownup Iowans have a wholesome physique weight, based on the Iowa Division of Public Well being’s June 2022 Wholesome Iowans: Iowa’s State Well being Evaluation report. And whereas the federal 2020 Dietary Tips suggest that adults and adolescents eat 2½ to 4 cups of greens and 1½ to 2½ cups of fruit each day, Wholesome Iowans revealed that 22.7% of grownup Iowans eat lower than one vegetable per day and 40.4% eat much less that one fruit per day.

Quick-food eating places supply little assist in the way in which of wholesome meals choices. However Clayton Farms Salads — the Midwest’s first salad and smoothie drive-through and indoor farm — seeks to alter that.

With greens grown 10 ft away, serving ‘world’s freshest salads’

Clayton Farms Salads opened March 31 at 2435 Grand Ave. in Ames, and by the point I used to be in a position to go to in mid-Might, had already served 10,000 salads and smoothies. By the point this column is launched, it’s going to doubtless have surpassed 15,000.

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“What’s thrilling about that is you will have a school city of mid-60,000s (Ames),” stated Clayton Mooney, co-founder of Clayton Farms and Clayton Farms Salads. “And swiftly we are able to deliver the world’s freshest salads to people and get town pondering extra about wholesome quick meals, which for my part right this moment would not actually exist.”

As prospects drive to position their order, pay and decide up, they’ll view rows of lettuce and microgreens, rising in trays, by means of the previous Fazoli restaurant home windows. The restaurant has been transformed to an indoor farm, rising oak leaf and butterhead lettuce, peppery arugula and crunchy romaine. The microgreens embody pea shoots, broccoli sprouts, micro radish and sunflower shoots.

All salads — from the Backyard to the Crunchy Asian, Caesar, Southwest, the brand new Mediterranean or a build-your-own — embody a mixture of lettuce and microgreens. These with tomatoes function recent cherry tomatoes grown at Clayton Farms down the highway, which might now be bought on the drive-through by the half-pint. Their smoothies, from pineapple to berry to matcha — and the brand new Strawberry Sunshine — additionally comprise microgreens.

Mooney considers their salads the “world’s freshest salads” as a result of, in contrast to grocery retailer produce, which is offered greater than three days post-harvest, Clayton Farms Salads staff minimize the greens grown on-site and carry them 10 ft to the kitchen, the place they’re able to be served immediately, thus retaining their full dietary worth.

“I’d say all of our microgreens — and microgreens generally — have 30 instances extra vitamin on common than their grownup counterparts of the bigger meals gadgets.”

Expertise makes rising greens on-site attainable

The indoor farm makes use of a 5 stack Nutrient Movie Method system, although Mooney says “hydroponic backyard” is a extra user-friendly title for it. “Nutrient Movie Method is a very fancy method of claiming, in hydroponics, that we’ve these channels that we simply pump the water and vitamins by means of.”

The software program, which acts as an on-site horticulturalist, ensures that the crops get what they want, after they want it, with no wasted water, fertilizer or different inputs. Any unused water is recycled. “It (software program) is looking forward to the temperature, the humidity, the lighting schedules, the nutrient schedules. It is taking a look at plant well being general.”

Sensors continuously collect this data, and farm staff members assessment the info, which may be accomplished remotely, so Mooney doesn’t must be on-site each day. This method requires not solely rather a lot much less labor than conventional farming, but additionally rather a lot much less water.

“One in all my favourite statistics, particularly having grown up on a conventional small household farm in southeast Iowa,” Mooney stated, “is for each one month we develop meals on our gear right here, we save one 12 months of water.” Or put one other method, Mooney stated it takes the system lower than a gallon of water to develop a pound of lettuce, whereas conventional farming takes a dozen or extra gallons to develop the identical quantity.

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Moreover, Clayton Farms Salads makes use of non-GMO seeds and doesn’t use components to hurry up progress or pesticides, which aren’t wanted as a result of there are not any pests, because of the managed setting.

“I prefer to joke that the one bugs we get in listed here are software program bugs,” Mooney stated. However these bugs may be simply as damaging because the dwell variety, which Mooney and the staff found the onerous method. “We got here within the subsequent day and all of the crops had been flat and we’re like, ‘What’s going on? Oh. We overfed them by 10 instances.’”

The rising know-how, gear and profitability mannequin was created and debugged on the indoor Clayton Farms. Mooney is happy by the truth that, whereas the typical U.S. indoor farm takes seven years to succeed in profitability, the Ames farm took two years. Clayton Farms established a direct shopper subscription mannequin, the place prospects select which of the 14 totally different produce choices they need and the frequency of the supply. The mannequin was expanded to the Twin Cities market as properly.

One other Clayton Farms Salads drive-through coming quickly

In August, Mooney hopes to have discovered a restaurant for a second drive-through salad and farm within the Twin Cities or Des Moines, whichever happens first. The plan will then be to open in September.

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He and his staff are additionally engaged on a few partnerships to determine how they’ll enhance distribution and get into extra rural communities and concrete communities which might be much less meals safe. They hope to have one thing in place by the top of this 12 months.

“Our mission has at all times been about offering folks with the meals they deserve,” Mooney stated. “The way in which I see how we accomplish that’s getting these drive-through plus farms launched into as many places as attainable all through the U.S. So Ames is considered one of 10,000.”

Solely 9,999 to go.

Rachelle Chase is an writer and an opinion columnist, who’s additionally launched a brand new column, Trailblazers & Trendsetters, on the Des Moines Register. Comply with Rachelle at fb.com/rachelle.chase.writer or e mail her at rchase@registermedia.com.

For extra data

To order on-line from Clayton Farms Salads, prepare for pickup or schedule a supply, get the app, or subscribe, go to ClaytonFarms.com/salads.