It was the 1980s in San Francisco. Microgreens were the new, fashionable gourmet vegetable. Not quite a sprout, not quite a full-grown vegetable either, these high-value greens started to be featured in chefs’ menus across the city. Now, microgreens are not only in the San Francisco gourmet restaurant scene but are gaining familiarity worldwide. In Tucson, they’re starting to become available in chain grocery stores like Trader Joe’s or Sprouts and also through many local producers in or near town.

“I would say in the last 10 to 15 years […], as we approach the present, its popularity is increasing exponentially,” Joel Cuello, University of Arizona professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, said. Marie Gonzalez is one of those people who regularly buy a microgreen variety mix with a bi-weekly subscription from her friend Tria Decker, co-owner of Healthy You Microgreens located in Southeast Tucson.

Unlike store-bought products, the vegetables are typically delivered within the same day or a few days of harvesting, which can result in a fresher taste. Gonzalez said though store prices are slightly lower by a dollar or two, she doesn’t mind paying the extra for the difference in flavor.

“When you get them from someone that grows [the microgreens] themselves, there is a different texture and crispness to them that is unmatched,” Gonzalez said.