Elle Astrup is a change-maker in the business of making nutrient dense food affordable, accessible and understood. Her company, Foods That Love You Back, grows and markets microgreens and aims to educate about the medicinal qualities of food. Born in Norway and eventually landing in Byron Bay, Elle is on a mission to make healthy food a non-negotiable.
Her aim? To “revolutionise the way we are growing food, the way we are using food and the way we are distributing food”. While reforming the food system is no small undertaking, Elle is driving innovation in microgreens in creative ways by sustainably growing and running research and development in microgreens from her production facility in Byron Bay.
According to Elle, “microgreens have up to 40-70 times more nutrients than any other vegetable or leafy green”, with half of a punnet of microgreens having “the equivalent nutrients of 3.5 kilos of store-bought broccoli”. Each punnet is grown on an organic hemp mat, comes in compostable and 100% biodegradable packaging, and ranges from broccoli to sunflower and red clover microgreens.
Her journey to founding Foods That Love You Back can be traced back seven years. Her mother’s Stage 3-4 cancer diagnosis prompted an intense period of research and discovery into health education and the benefits of certain foods to assist her mother in her cancer treatment. During this time, she started to explore the links between food and chronic disease. She also began to grow and harvest microgreens as a nutrient rich food source. This, alongside her sixteen-year commitment to yoga and functional movement training, generated her interest in food as a source of healing and health and led her to set up Foods That Love You Back.
Upon arriving in Byron Bay, she discovered that the products she wanted to work with weren’t available in Australia, so decided to start developing them herself. Knowing that she wanted her growing system to be hydroponic and sustainable, she found and has recently partnered with vertical farming company InvertiGro. Through her work with InvertiGro, Elle is testing the best methods to grow microgreens efficiently and sustainably.
Paul Millett, Co-Founder and COO of InvertiGro, described the benefits of their collaboration, explaining that “Foods That Love You Back (FTLYB) has been a key research and development stakeholder throughout the Beta-testing phase of InvertiGro’s InvertiCube product. We have collaborated to operationally test and refine features of our unique Indoor Vertical Farming system as a key input into InvertiGro’s final stage of product development. This win-win collaboration has helped FTLYB to launch in market with a revolutionary indoor farming solution, producing a superior range of microgreen products, with the scalability to increase capacities as the business expands, and has helped InvertiGro to build a more robust product”.
Foods That Love You Back is owned and run entirely by Elle, and demonstrates the potential for small (or micro, if you will) businesses to inspire and influence large-scale food systems change.