Florida Microgreens Uses Food Safe Plastics for best Practices
When opening Florida Microgreens to the public, I spent a lot of time shopping trying to find “food-safe” plastic trays to grow microgreens and other plants for my hydroponic systems. Alarmingly, inasmuch as I have experimented making many DIY hydroponic systems, I have learned that most of the materials I used or re purposed were simply not safe from leaching things into the water over time. To that end, when I started the microgreens business, I searched high and low for food safe plastics to grow microgreens and to begin converting over my own personal hydro systems.
Food Safe Plastics and Nursery Trays (10×20) at Florida Microgreens
Most of us have used the standard 10×20 nursery trays to grow our seedlings. When looking at these trays, hydroponics stores usually say they are “food-safe”. However, manufacturing processes tell me a different story when you look a little deeper. Ultimately, they can’t assure us they do not contain heavy metal contaminants because of the equipment used, where the trays are made, and or their unknown and untraceable composition.
You know the rest of this story now which is WHY we are interesting in growing food – to get better quality food and to be reasonable assured that we know WHERE and HOW our food is grown. Add on top of that all the contamination warnings of our water systems in the news and you may realize there are so many ways what we eat can be put at risk.
So, here’s some basic info to get you started on “food Safe” plastics or materials when planning your growing and why Florida Microgreens is on a mission to eliminate our usage of any trays that aren’t proven to be food-safe.
Food-Safe plastics must meet three basic requirements:
1) Must be made from virgin plastic (HDPE, PE, PP, PS, and PET) – not recycled (so the history, specs, and
ingredients of the resin are known).
2) It must be extruded with a higher-cost non-toxic mold release agent.
3) Cannot be made with heavy-metal (toxic) ingredients.
Recycled plastics usually have random and unknown composition and are not considered food-safe, unless the supply source is tightly controlled. Non-food grade would use the cheaper, generally toxic, mold release agents. Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and antimony have been added to plastics as catalysts, pigments, fillers, UV stabilizers, and flame retardants.
For more information, see the following chart and discussion: