Over the years I've always wanted to test the food we raise on our small farm to see if our permaculture techniques are really paying off. I want to show customers that our product has this much more vitamin, mineral, omega 3, etc. I want to know if the carrot I grow in the ground has more sugar content than what I grow in an aquaponic bed. Has anyone heard of a way to test your food on site and/or if there has been efforts to make something that could do this? We need to be able to quantify how much better our products are, especially when people turn their noses up at our prices.
Unfortunately, no Star Trek style tricorder exists for analyzing food nutrient density. You'd essentially need a chemistry lab so you could extract and measure all the nutrients.
Currently, Brix is the best concept for estimating nutrient density in food. You can use hand held refractometers to measure brix (should cost about $100, or less). There are folks working on comparaison charts for common food crops, and their brix ratings, but these are still in the works (as far as I know). Perhaps you could show your customers the difference between your food and low quality store bought food.
If you google nutrient density and brix, you should find lots of info on this.
Here's one web page (selling refractometers) with a brief overview:
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 4 years ago
Generally speaking, an apple (or tomato, lettuce leaf, etc.) with higher nutrient density will have a higher sugar content than its less nutritional counterpart. As the plant transports sugars, it also transports available minerals with it. Therefore, a higher Brix reading will also indicate higher mineral content.
A comparison chart of some fruits, vegetables and grasses can be found here: BRIX Chart
I'd love to have a tricorder for this too. The closest match is sending a sample to the university lab or a commercial lab for testing. It costs about $75 to $500 to get the workup depending on what you ask for. Very interesting.
depending on what you want to spend, a gas chromatograph really isn't terribly expensive in the grander scheme of things... I have seen them on par with the cost of a used tractor... however, I'm not sure that this alone will get "those" people to buy your product. A marketing approach would possibly be a wiser investment of your time. There are still going to be the folks who feel like macaroni and cheese is a vegetable, and i don't know what it would take to win them over to our side haha
Ajila Ama Farm Western North Carolina
Another idea would be to find someone with a good palette. Some people can still taste the difference between nutrient-dense food and industrially-farmed, NPK overloaded, quantity over quality food and all of the in-between levels of nutrition.
Also I remember reading Steve Solomon's The Intelligent Gardener that mentions that even with the best techniques, if there are minerals missing in your soil, your food just won't be as nutritious as it could be. He tells a great personal anecdote where he lived mostly off of his own organic garden for a while during his life and his teeth rotted away and fell out because there were minerals he wasn't getting.
Why work hard when god made so many mongongo nuts? - !Kung
The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man - Murray Bookchin
C'est drôle comme les gens qui se croient instruits éprouvent le besoin de faire chier le monde.-Boris Vian
El hombre es la naturaleza que toma conciencia de sí misma -Elisée Reclus
Location: Nashville, TN
posted 4 years ago
M Foti wrote:depending on what you want to spend, a gas chromatograph really isn't terribly expensive in the grander scheme of things... I have seen them on par with the cost of a used tractor... however, I'm not sure that this alone will get "those" people to buy your product. A marketing approach would possibly be a wiser investment of your time. There are still going to be the folks who feel like macaroni and cheese is a vegetable, and i don't know what it would take to win them over to our side haha
I would use the information to to try to sway the customers, but I want it more to test the difference between an aquaponicly grown tomato and a raised bed tomato. I'd like to compare to fruit of different growing methods and let it steer our decision making as we plant and start new beds, etc.