Harvest2Order may be the futuristic salad bar we never even knew we needed.
Gone are the days of plastic buckets full of refrigerated spinach leaves being trucked for miles to a salad bar near you. At Harvest2Order, vegetables are planted, grown, and harvested behind the counter, clipped right before the customer's eyes before hitting the plate. Talk about farm to table.
(Emily Hawkes/Courtesy Harvest2Order)
Harvest2Order — or "H2O" — is the brainchild of two native New Yorkers, Liz Vaknin and Shelley Golan. They're on a mission to help the modern consumer find new ways to reduce their environmental impact, one fresh salad at a time. The restaurant, which opened a pop-up storefront at the North 3rd Street Market in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in May, has a simple menu featuring seasonal choices of open-faced toasts and salads chock full of micro-greens — salad vegetables that have been picked right after the first leaves spring out. This means everything is made to order, and the salads are super fresh.
As Vaknin explained in a press release, micro-greens are packed with good, healthy stuff, providing almost 40 times the nutrition of a fully grown vegetable.
"I always say that micro-greens are the Clark Kent of superfoods," Golan told The Times of Israel. "Because they are standing in plain sight. They are just vegetables — it's a carrot, it's a radish, it's a broccoli, it's all of those things. If you just harvest them earlier, they become a superfood. But they are nothing new."
The fact that the micro-greens are harvested on the spot answers a question a growing number of people are asking: Where is my food coming from? In one report, 90 percent of respondents revealed that they didn't trust the quality of their food purchases, nor did they trust where their food was coming from. An even larger number demanded transparency. Being able to see your food harvested just moments before you consume it can bring peace of mind that's hard to find in the supermarket aisle, no matter how fresh the produce may seem or how pastoral the images on the food labels are.
There's also global hunger for sustainable food, especially among younger, environmentally conscious generations: In one recent survey, 72 percent of Generation Z respondents — those born during or after the mid-1990s — said they were "willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact." And that number is on the rise.
The restaurant's micro-greens are grown in hydroponic environments — meaning they don't require soil — so there's no wasted dirt and less wasted water. "These are grown in the most efficient way which is using a combination of natural sunlight and also LEDs," Golan said. "It is the most energy efficient way to grow things."
Cutting out the need for food transportation also means a smaller carbon footprint. And the company sources all of its proteins and toppings locally, which has made it a favorite of the New York farming community.
"New Yorkers seek quality food that they can grab quickly," Golan said. "H2O is the ultimate manifestation of this desire."
But speed isn't the only selling point here. Harvest2Order also wants to make local food more affordable. Its salads go for about $9, which is a steal in a metropolitan area like New York City, where a typical salad can cost about $14.
"Our mission with every project is to increase accessibility to regenerative food," Vaknin said.
Harvest2Order's prices, and its interesting take on farm to table, could have a knock-on effect on the rest of the industry, encouraging other restaurants to offer more sustainable options at a lower price. The pop-up booth was only temporary, but Vaknin and Golan are currently looking for a permanent storefront.
"People want quality, and they want it now," Golan said. "Why shouldn't this apply to our food as well?"