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Carbon footprints and food miles are common concerns for the ethical eater. But what more can you do besides patronizing farmer’s markets and eating farm-to-fork dinners? Try growing your own food.

You might be thinking: “A great project in theory, but not exactly the easiest thing to do in the city.” Even if you have the space on your ledge or balcony for a container garden, you may not have a green thumb or the time to invest in tending to plants.

Growing sprouts, however, is an idiot-proof endeavor. Just pour tap water over a handful of seeds. After a few days, you have fresh greens for salads and sandwiches. DIYers normally rely on a couple of cheap items — a mason jar and cheesecloth — to get the job done. But Victorio attempts to streamline the project with its 4-Tray Seed Sprouter.

Made with stackable plastic trays that distribute water from the top down, the sprouter promises a vertical edible garden with little effort. And even if alfalfa sprouts aren’t your idea of a tasty snack, other greens like garden cress will grow under the same soil-free conditions.

Having grown sprouts the old-fashioned way in the past, I tested the Victorio to see if it makes work any easier — or at least cooler-looking than having an old glass jar full of seeds sitting around.

Positive (+)
The sprouter is an affordable, lightweight and fairly compact piece of equipment. The trays, made of crack-resistant BPA-free plastic, can be arranged to grow different varieties of sprouts at the same time. I added a teaspoon of mixed seeds to all four containers and stacked them as instructed. Once water was poured into the top compartment, it dripped its way through tiny holes, reaching the underlying trays and pooling in a bottom reserve. Excess water was drained and fresh tap was added twice a day until the seeds sprouted.

Unlike upside-down mason jars full of wet seeds, the sprouter is clever and keeps the kitchen neat. There is no dripping water, and it’s easy to transport if you need to make extra room on the counter for other projects.

Negative (-)
Unfortunately, the sprouter’s performance was a major flop. Yes, most of the seeds sprouted within two days. But seeds on the top tray shriveled and dried up in the summer heat, while sprouts underneath became grew mold from lack of air circulation.

In efforts to troubleshoot, I re-read the instructions on my packet of seeds. Apparently, I had missed instructions to soak them in a bleach solution to minimize the risk of e coli. Paranoid by the warning, I convinced myself that the slimy sprouts were a result of not being treated. I threw out the entire batch, disinfected the trays and seeds, and then started over.

Two days later, moldy sprouts appeared all over again.

Verdict:
The sprouter had promise for its simple and user-friendly design, but it was ultimately a bust. While it may perform better in a different climate, why take the risk? Sticking to old fashioned growing methods is probably a safer bet.
4 Tray Kitchen Seed Sprouter; $18.15, amazon.com


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