Pete's, a California greenhouse grower with a focus on producing "living products" - or produce with the roots still intact - have relaunched one of their living staples under a new name. Since 1999, the company has been growing watercress, initially for foodservice, but later expanding to the retail space with a spot at Wholefoods. However, this spring Pete's relaunched their watercress under the name "Wondercress".
"We decided to rename our cress products because these humble little greens packs a mighty nutritional punch, yet most people don’t realize it," explained Corrie Hutchens of Pete's. "In fact, the CDC named it the Number 1 Powerhouse Food, making it more nutrient dense than spinach and even kale. With so many nutrients packed into a tiny little package, the term watercress just didn’t seem to cut it. That’s why we renamed our cress…Wondercress."
All grown hydroponically
Hutchens said that although the cress is generally considered a seasonal plant, Pete's is able to produce it year-round in the ideal environment of their greenhouse operations. She described the company's growing methods, which involve growing the cress hydroponically, which is how they also grow their other produce.
"All of our production is hydroponic. We add the nutrients to the water, the roots take the nutrients they need from the water. Close monitoring allows us to make sure the nutrient levels are optimum in the water, which in turn creates optimum growth, resulting in the highest possible quality watercress."
Hutchens added that the entire product is edible, including the stem. "Beautiful dark green rounded leaves and tender stems are the characteristics of Wondercress," she said. "Due to our controlled greenhouse climate and optimum growing conditions, the stems stay soft and tender, making them fully usable, as well as easy for a person to digest. The flavor is hot and peppery, somewhat similar to a radish."
Easy to "bump up the nutritional value" in salads and other dishes
The company said that Wondercress is not only designed to boost the flavor of any dish, but also its nutritional value. Pete's promotes the nutritional value of the cress as an attraction for those looking for a quick and easy way to boost nutrients in their diet. "Wondercress is the perfect green for people who are looking for quick and easy ways to add a nutritional punch to the foods they eat every day," Hutchens shared. "By throwing some cress in a salad, smoothie or even on top of pizza, this is a super simple (and tasty) way to bump up the nutritional value."
The company offers two packaging options for retail - individually bagged and loose pack with an elastic tag - both of which are available in a 6pk or 12pk configuration. For foodservice customers, a bulk pack is available in 12pk conventional and 16pk organic options.
Hutchens concluded by explaining how Pete's is promoting Wondercress. "We are really using the packaging as our main consumer-facing element," she said. "The packaging highlights; 1) the fact that cress IS the Number 1 powerhouse food; and 2) that there are so many easy ways to incorporate it into the foods you already eat."
Wondercress is available across the continental United States from retailers, wholesalers and foodservice providers.