Down in Coaldale, Alberta, Canada you can find the home of Inspired Greens. As this region profits from many sun hours, this is an excellent location to grow lettuce. Close to Calgary, AB, the facility and distribution hub to the rest of western Canada, and only 45 min from US borders. Whole Leaf, daughter of Star Produce, is the exclusive grower of Inspired Greens and Inspired Leaves. Inspired Greens is the brand name for the whole head living lettuce that they go to market with. Inspired Leaves is the value added brand for products that are washed and packed in the factory in Calgary. Read more and get inspired by the story of Rindi Bristol, Senior Director of Star Produce, who eats her salad without dressing.
More on Inspired Greens
At Whole Leaf they just wanted to grow better lettuce and leafy greens. Here they grow lettuce that is healthier, crunchier, tastier and even prettier than what consumers are used to up until now. Rindi explains why this is so important: “Canadians buy produce with their eyes, so the products need to look good.”
Not only peaches and cream
Nevertheless, it was not all peaches and cream the organization faced on its way to where they are now. By introducing a living and breathing crop of lettuce they had to change the complete product category. Soon they realized, retailers needed to be educated about the care and handling opposed to harvested field products. Whole Leaf convinced retailers to reserve a place in the store for their products, different from everything they were used to up until now with fresh vegetables, that are normally stored and sold from the fridge or the wet wall.
What differentiates the products from other products?
All Inspired Greens products are able to be presented at the supermarket at ambient temperature, and will stay fresh for 3 days with only a tablespoon of water. Regarding packaging they faced some challenges, as the packaging is essential for the shelf life. Special open top cases were designed with a custom venting pattern, to make sure the plants do not dry out. They came a long way marketing the products. Finally taking the time to explain the why and how around the products, is starting to show off. Supermarket managers now understand the products and consumers even tip stores that do not yet sell the brand.
Why so healthy?
At Whole Leaf they thought of really everything you can possibly think of as it comes to the health aspect in the production process. “Of course all this would not have been possible without the iSii climate computer” Rindi mentions, as all growth factors are closely monitored at all times. One of the reasons why Inspired Greens is the healthy choice is that lettuce in general consists of 98% of water that makes it a great source of hydration. Furthermore, lettuce contains lots of antioxidants and Vitamin K (especially the red and dark variants). Above all, with Inspired Greens all nutrients remain intact, as the roots are only removed from the lettuce just before consumption.
How about Whole Leaf’s contribution to a Happy Living Environment?
Whole Leaf not only contributes to whole year round availability of healthy food but also aims at a zero carbon footprint for example by reusing CO₂ emissions for good purpose. Besides using waste heat to warm the greenhouse during the colder periods, numerous other smart solutions have been implemented concerning responsible waste management. Another example here is the packaging: the plants are grown in a 100% compostable pot made of wood fiber, that can even be used to feed your compost. Instead of throwing the box in the garbage consumers can throw it on their compost bump and use it for the good of their garden flowers and vegetables.
Sustainability is a hot topic in the growing process of Inspired Greens – 38,000 liters of water can be saved daily during the cold, winter months; this water is reused for irrigation during the months that there is no access to the irrigation district. Furthermore, they produce 100% pesticide free with 100% transparency in the growth process, thanks to the climate computer – which contributes to the production of healthy and safe food. The greenhouse was built by Van der Hoeven. All perfectly in line with the increasing consumer demand for transparency in the food sector.