When it comes to the nutrition of the food, many studies are available that compare organically grown food to big AG food commonly found in grocery stores. While eating organic foods does remove harmful pesticides and herbicides from our diet, the studies show the nutrient values are not better. The missing factor in these studies is the soil health where they are grown.
We all know that only healthy soil produces healthy food. All produce, fruit, nut trees, everything that grows rely on soil health for its nutritional value.
An article reported in the NY Times says: “The Stanford report, an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.” Again, they show they’re only taking in part of the picture.
Those of us who grow our own vegetables and fruit know that nothing beats the taste and nutrition of them when they’re grown from the right seeds, in the right soil, and without any unnatural fertilizers.
The feeling of satisfaction your body has when you bite into a fresh non-GMO tomato straight out of the garden is often what your body expects when you take a bite of one from the store.
Have you ever grabbed one from the grocery store and taken a bite out of it? What was your body’s response?
I bet your first impulse was to spit it out and reconsider if you are really hungry enough to finish it. After all, we feed our bodies food so we can thrive, right? If our food has little or no nutritional value, we’re only consuming empty calories.
So besides our taste buds is there an easy, more consistent way to measure the soil health and nutrition in our garden? Yes, there is.
The Master Refractometer To Guage Soil Health
I have a friend in Virginia who raises cattle. Years ago he introduced me to an easy-to-use tool that he measures the health of the grass his herds are raised on. He raises his cattle on the principle of rotational grassing.
He calls himself a “Solar Farmer” because he doesn’t focus on growing beef but his main focus is the quality of the grass his beef consumes.
We are what we eat. If you eat meat, then it stands to reason that the meat is only as good as what it ate.
Beef is healthier with the right kind of grass and the grass is healthier with the right kind of soil. We should really be focused on soil health for our own health.
How does my friend find the time to track hundreds of acres of grass? He uses a Master Refractometer.
What Is A Master Refractometer and What Does It Measure?
A Master Refractometer, made by Atago, is his tool of choice. It’s a handheld optical instrument that measures the amount of bend or refraction of light rays as they pass through a liquid. In the case of plant studies, it is the sap they pass through.
Degrees of Brix is what he is looking for as he measures his grass from plot to plot.
Brix is the scale based on the degree that light bends when it passes through a liquid. By measuring the health of a plant’s sap in a refractometer, you get a quick view of your soil health. And we know soil health determines the nutritional value of anything grown in it.
Generally, the higher the Brix number is the higher the levels of minerals and nutrients are in the plants. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, “Brix measures a combination of sugar, amino acids, oils, proteins, flavonoids, minerals, and other goodies.”
How To Use A Master Refractometer
The great thing about this refractometer is that it’s very easy to use. I can use it so I know you can too.
- Squeeze two drops of juice from a plant leaf, fruit, or vegetable, onto the refractometer’s lens.
- Point it towards a light source and look through the eyepiece.
- Read the scale to get the Brix number.
- Compare your findings to the Brix charts (this is a pdf download) to determine if the number indicates poor, average, or excellent quality.
- You now know if you have a nutrient dense harvest or if you need soil testing and amendments.
To test leaves or grass you only need two drops of liquid which you can extract by using a garlic press. You can also make a device like this one my friend made.
This bypasses expensive and time-consuming tests. It also gives you a great starting point for having nutrient-rich garden produce and fruits. Healthy soil produces healthy plants that produce foods that taste as good as they look.
Soil Health to Get High Brix
If you practice any of the things we teach about: crop rotation, mulching, companion planting, green manure, vermicompost, and composting; you will probably have a high Brix level from your leaves, fruits, or vegetables.
If you are in the process of amending your soil, you may want to do a weak acid and a microbial test. These tests will give you the recommended amendments for a quick fix.
In new garden spots, you may have to do weekly foliar feeding. After a season or two of soil amendments, the minerals and microbes will be growing in the right direction. Years ago we used Bio Wash to do this in a new garden plot and it worked excellently.
The old-timers used Gypsum as a moderately soluble source of calcium and sulfur, essential plant nutrients that will increase your Brix.
High Brix ensures your fruits and vegetables will be dense, juicy, and delicious. Low Brix produces tasteless fruits and vegetables because the soil health is deficient in the nutrients our bodies need to remain healthy and active.