For more than two decades, Gil Frishman and Lori Tooker have been running a family owned and operated sprout company called Sproutpeople – offering non gmo and organic sprouting seeds. Sproutpeople was born in 1993. Gil and Lori grew sprouts, grass, and microgreens (young green nutritious baby plants falling between a sprout and babygreen) and sold them at a farmers market and to a wide range of stores. They launched their website in 1995 and added seeds and sprouting supplies to their offerings in 1997.
In 2003, Sproutpeople stopped growing crops professionally and focused all of their attention on their website and sales to home sprouters. Sproutpeople.org provides incredibly detailed information – with unique pages for every seed they offer. The pages include thorough growing instructions, photos of each crop as it grows, videos, and more.
They quickly respond by email to customer inquiries. I know because I have been in “sprout trouble” and Gil and Lori responded immediately to emails offering me constructive tips after asking questions and making sure that they had all information to help solve the sprout challenges.
Recently Gil took some time from his busy schedule to talk about their business.
Did you ever have a moment or time when you feel that your work is spiritual? Please explain.
Growing is always a spiritual experience for me. I have always (since I started gardening as an adult, in 1989) felt connected to seeds. I garden whenever I possibly can. It is in the garden that I feel the most connected to the universe/earth/god. Seeds, plants, weeds, and soil – It is all-magical. When I’m tuned in to. I talk to the seeds I’m planting, and to the plants as they grow. I thank them for feeding us and I am constantly telling them how beautiful they are (I talk to plants when walking too – and I take photos often – – plants are as much a part of life as I am). I find peace with mortality because vegetable plants go through their lives so quickly – they die and go back into the earth. I’m gonna do that someday too. We’re all the same.
How does selling sprouts align with your values?
We are part of a symbiotic relationship with farmers and customers. We help farmers prosper by buying their seed. We help customers by providing them high quality food. Sprouts and greens and grass, when we were professional growers – – seed and teaching now that we only sell seeds. Customers keep us going by buying from us. The farmers we work with have long standing commitments to organics. Organic agriculture is just necessary. Chemicals hurt the planet and everything on it. They are not sustainable. Organic is the only way!
Seeds grow into plants that aid us in life – whether nutritionally, aesthetically, or in another way. A sprout is a seed with a root. This sprout has all the potential of the plant it could grow. That plant would grow to seed – producing dozens, hundreds, even thousands of seeds – each one capable of producing a plant which can produce dozens, hundreds, even thousands of seeds – all of which are capable of producing…
Explain how sprouts are a cheap source of food?
The quality of the nutrients sprouts offer is worth a premium – like ginseng or vegan stuff – I dunno – it’s just better – sprouts are not only Raw food – they are ALIVE!
A scientist we dealt with in 1997 was making powder from broccoli sprouts. He bought seed from us because he said our broccoli had the highest content of sulforaphane is a compound within the isothiocyanate group of organ sulfur compounds. It is obtained from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages.- I said “let me sell the powder”, He said “No. You are selling the pure product. Masticating sprouts is a whole lot more nutritious. People need to chew their food.” – well, something like that. He was more eloquent and kinda stern really – he turned us onto a book – Enzyme Nutrition, by Dr. Edward Howell, which is a fascinating book. Some scientists believe we are born with a finite amount of enzymes. Eating better requires fewer enzymes for us to digest. Bad food requires extra enzymes. Sprouts have their own enzymes. The literally digest themselves, giving our bodies a break. Sprouts are also full of bacteria. Our guts are full of bacteria. We Require bacteria in our guts. Most bacteria in food are not only good, they are essential to us. Sprouts provide the greatest dose of essential bacteria we can get!
Of course, because the environment we create to grow sprouts in (our Sprouter) is perfect for bacteria, any bad bacteria can also prosper. The WHOLE deal, imo is that organic seeds have Never been blamed for a pathogenic outbreak. The problems have always been with pathogenic bacteria having been on conventional (non-organic) seed before it was sprouted. That’s how the pathogenic bacteria got in. On the seed. They got there because non-organic is non-sustainable. Sprout organic seed from a source you trust
Also – a pound of alfalfa is currently $11.99/lb, on sproutpeople.org. That pound will grow 7-9 pounds of sprouts. Let’s say you get 7 pounds of sprouts. Eight ounces, cost only 86¢ to grow. Name anything else that packs in so much nutrition for so little. You can’t. There is nothing.
When I talk to people about sprouting, I often hear “that is a lot of work.” How would you convince people that it is worth the time?
Sprouting is not only very little work – an average of 3 minutes a day per 8 ounce crop – a quart of alfalfa type leafy sprouts or a pint of beans or grains – well – actually those 2 would take less time than that – possibly as much as 2 minutes a day, for 2-3 days only.
Do you ever feel that you are connecting with the sprouts or the people who buy your products?
We love when people write us kind words via email, or on their orders. We love/live to teach people how to grow successfully, so getting to go through that learning experience with people is a huge part of our lives. We feel like helping new indoor farmers is exactly what the world needs .If a person is new to growing anything, sprouts are the perfect place to start. Learn what a seed is (You might be amazed at how many customers have come to us having absolutely NO IDEA where seeds come from.), start to truly experience the wonder of nature. Connect with life. It is like the opposite of tech. Earth.
How does intuition play a role in the choices of seeds to sell? I love all seeds.
I collect seeds I find when walking. I marvel at seeds. I can’t say that intuition plays any part in choosing seeds, but it plays a big part in growing. When we started gardening we got a book – The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, which includes a line about caring for plants by feeling what the plant needs – by Being the Plant. That literally changed my life. That advice was right down my alley. I have pretty much lived that since I first read it 30 years ago.