Photo by Marta Dominguez
If you eat the sprouts from Sprossenmanufaktur, you’ll be able to check every box on the list of what food is supposed to be: fresh, local, organic, nutritious.
These Berlin sprouts are the exact opposite of your winter Netto cucumber trucked 3000 kilometres from Andalucia. Instead of growing on a farm, this superfood gestates in rotating plastic drums in an 18sqm room in a Friedrichshain Hinterhof. The windowless room, a former butcher’s meat locker, has the dampness and temperature of your bathroom after a hot shower. There’s a faint smell of chlorine: all surfaces are kept as sterile as a hospital.
When a politician speculated that a sprout producer in western Germany was responsible for the EHEC outbreak in 2011, the company immediately suffered a severe backlash. Germans stopped eating sprouts and the bread containing sprouts from organic bakeries they supply. Since then, their customers have been steadily returning, but output is still just 60 percent of what it had been, says co-owner Wolfgang Funkhauser – still an impressive 200kg per week. In response to the scare, they ramped up safety measures. Their organic seeds and premises are now regularly monitored by a hygiene lab.
Sprossenmanufaktur’s selection – which you can find at most organic supermarkets in Berlin – ranges from classic alfalfa to onion, broccoli and spelt. Munch on mixes from the tame Milde Mischung (alfalfa, radish) to the positively tangy red radish-daikon blend – eat them in salads or sandwiches, or just shove a handful into your mouth and chew.
In the 18th century, Captain Cook introduced sprouts – which could be grown on ships without soil or sunshine – to his sailors’ diet to combat scurvy. What better way to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiency over the Berlin winter?