We all want to eat the most nutritious food, but… how do you measure food quality for nutrient density?
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
Measuring Nutrient Density
by David Proctor
July 7, 2022
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
Our farmers are rewarded for growing the most, not necessarily the best, crops on the lowest budget.
This allows for cheap food but not always the most nutritious food.
Numerous charts show what foods we should try to eat each day.
But is a tomato from the grocery store the same as a tomato from the local farmer’s market?
Is organic food more nutrient-dense than what is grown elsewhere and imported?
A method has to exist to measure the difference between food besides uniformity and looks.
One of the best ways to tell the difference between vegetables and fruit is by taste.
Our taste buds are pretty refined to help us select the best food.
Also, the smell is another indicator.
The touch and feel of the food can also help, but this still may not always give the best results.
Have you ever tried to pick out the best watermelon?
You thump it and listen.
A high-pitched thump is not ripe, a hollow thump is ripe.
How do you tell if other foods are at their peak?
The Brix movement has evolved as a method for measuring the nutrient density of fruits and vegetables.
Brix is a scale based on the amount that light bends when it passes through a liquid or the refraction.
This is done with a refractometer.
How to use an optical refractometer:
- Squeeze sap out of a plant.
- Put two drops on the prism.
- Close the prism cover.
- Point to a light source.
- Focus the eyepiece.
- Read the measurement.
- Where light and dark fields intersect is the brix number.
This can be done for whatever part of the plant that you want to eat.
This will help to measure the solution density.
Winegrowers have been using refractometers as standardized pieces of equipment for many years to test the quality of grapes.
The USDA is using the refractometer to test the quality of oranges.
And recently the brix test is being used to test cranberry juice.
The ones with the highest brix are paid a premium price.
“One of the most important nutrients that increases with a high brix level is calcium.
In addition to increased calcium levels, high brix foods also supply more trace minerals such as copper, iron, and manganese.
Minerals in food are in a naturally chelated form. Naturally chelated minerals are bound to amino acids that have a left-hand spin.
Amino acids with a left-hand spin are referred to as L-Amino acids. L-Amino acids are biologically active.
This translates into easy assimilation into the body compared to inorganic minerals taken in pill form.”
High brix foods taste better and are more insect and disease-resistant.
Taste is built upon the carbohydrate and mineral levels in the produce.
When they decline, so does the taste.
The greatest drawback to using just the brix scale is that it doesn’t distinguish between the various dissolved solids that will affect the refractive index of the liquid.
The best way to get around this drawback is through proper nutrient management.
The brix can be used to measure how crops are doing and the proper adjustment made while they are growing instead of waiting until harvest to see how the crop has turned out.
Using the Brix Chart and a refractometer may not be the most scientific way to measure nutrient density in foods.
Yet, beyond sending food in for a lab test, the refractometer may be a relatively inexpensive tool to test food and crops for consumption.
Check It Out!
The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods on The Planet
- Egg Yolks
- Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)
“Brix.” Brix | Bionutrient Food Association, bionutrient.org/bionutrient-rich-food/brix. 7 July 2022
Kris Gunnars, BSc. “The 11 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 7 July 2022, authoritynutrition.com/11-most-nutrient-dense-foods-on-the-planet/. 24 June. 2021
“What Is Brix?” High Brix Gardens, highbrixgardens.com/what-is-brix.html. 7 July 2022,
“Brix.” Bionutrient Food Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 July 2022,
Capewellmj. “The Brix Movement – Growing For Quality.” The Brix Movement – Growing For Quality. N.p., 7 July 2022,
Gunnars, Kris. “The 11 Most Nutrient Dense Foods on The Planet.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 7 July 2022,