Consumers – Know Your Brix!
Phyllis Tichinin

On average, the vitamin and mineral content of our food has declined 60% in the last 60 years of chemically oriented farming.* All the supplements and nutriceutals we’re taking are meant to be in our food, not something we have to pay extra for. This lack of nutrition, accompanied by chemical residues, has created an epidemic of health problems. We need food grown in a more biologically sensitive manner that has more nutrition in it – the way it used to be. Get Angry! Demand better food.

The quality of what we eat is directly related to the quality of the soil it’s grown on.  Minerally balanced, microbe- and humus-rich soils produce food with high levels of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  Many agricultural soils today produce flavourless, nutrient-poor produce that adds little to our health or satisfaction.

How do we tell whether fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense?  By taste – crops grown biologically with a maximum of balanced minerals and a minimum of pesticides simply taste better.  They are sweeter, have a more complex flavour and store longer. 

Unfortunately, we’ve gotten used to bland or even bitter vegetables. Why do you think young children don’t like fruits and vegetables?  It’s because they’ve lost all their flavour and much of their nutrition. 

Using a refractometer, or brix meter, to indicate sugar content and nutritional density, is worth considering.  You can take a piece of fruit, squeeze it through a garlic press onto the glass plate of the refractometer and read the percent sugar content. The higher the sugar level, the higher the mineral content, the better the taste and the less likely that excessive pesticides were used. 

Fruit should be above 17 brix and vegetables should be above 12, with the exception of potatoes which will knock your socks off if they’re close to 8 brix. We know that it’s nearly impossible to get high brix on minerally unbalanced, microbially dead soils. We use a refractometer in the field to chart the health of the crop and to decide how to fertilise for better flavour, yield and disease resistance. You can test the brix of everything you eat or grow by purchasing a refractometer to compare foods. They’re generally available at horticulture supply firms for under $200.

Be aware, discerning consumers of food.  Shop locally and ask the producer what they do to ensure trace minerals and vitamins are in the crops. If enough people demand nutrient-dense food, the quality will go up and the price will come down.

*Documented by figures from the UK Royal Society of Chemists and the Ministry of Agriculture, and confirmed by US Dept of Agriculture data.

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