Producing High Brix Food

A number of people have requested information on how to produce high brix food and how to increase the brix of the pastures.

Producing high brix food is not achieved overnight. It takes three to eight years to get the nutrients balanced in the soil so that high brix food can be produced. When you first get your refractometer and start testing your vegetables it is discouraging discovering how poor they are. However, it becomes exciting as you see the improvements in the brix reading, taste how much better high brix food is, and you know you can’t buy this quality of food in the stores.

The best way to know what minerals should be added to your soil is to do a soil test. It needs to be a weak acid LaMotte soil test such as is done by International Ag labs, not the usual strong acid soil tests performed by most labs.

The first year, in the fall of the year, plow the soil and apply soft rock phosphate at the rate of 100 pounds per thousand square feet or 10 pounds per 100 square feet. After applying the soft rock phosphate, apply high calcium lime at the same rate. Do not use dolomite or limestone with more than 5% magnesium. Magnesium releases nitrogen into the air and messes up the soil balance. We get lime from Frederick Farmers Coop in Frederick. It is called Thomasville lime (Old Castle) for $3.05 for 50lbs. Soft rock phosphate is available from Lancaster Ag for $11 for a 50lb bag. They will ship UPS. Lancaster Ag also has garden blends to help gardeners produce high brix food.

Producing nutrient dense, high brix food is more involved than just putting down soft rock phosphate and limestone.

There are also foliar sprays that you can apply to increase the brix. Our tomatoes, potatoes, squash, and cucumbers were low brix and I could not find a foliar spray that raised the brix. I remembered that in the Bible it referred to the land of Canaan as a land flowing with milk and honey.  I tried two cups of raw milk and a little honey per gallon of water. It raised the brix of the leaves of the plants from 7 brix to 10 brix. It raised the brix of the clover in the pasture about 5 brix.

A foliar spray that we used on the green beans and the sweet corn that raised the brix and produced 28 brix sweet corn was:
Per Gallon
6tbsp     molasses – we used feed grade
8oz.       cola soda – a source of phosphoric acid
1tsp       Hydrated lime
3tbsp     liquid fish
1tbsp     seaweed powder
14tbsp  apple cider vinegar

If you want more information, I encourage you to check out the websites listed below.  I also recommend reading the book Nourishment Home Grown by Dr. A.F. Beddoe. Refractometers that test the brix reading are available inexpensively on eBay. Get one that reads in the 0 to 32% range.

Weston A Price Foundation – High Brix farming and gardening
http://www.westonaprice.org/The-Quest-for-Nutrient-Dense-Food-High-Brix-Farming-and-Gardening.html

Soil tests and articles – International Ag Labs
http://www.aglabs.com/soilTesting.html

Supplier – Lancaster Ag, Lancaster, PA
http://www.lancasterag.com/catalog/garden/intro.html

High Brix Gardens
http://www.highbrixgardens.com/

Brix Book and articles
http://crossroads.ws/

Test equipment and articles
http://www.pikeagri.com/
Check out their user guides – plant sap analysis and compost guides

If you are a farmer, we highly recommend the Carey Reams seminars that Pike Agri has. They are well worth the cost. They take you to levels of agriculture that you did not think possible, such as how to produce alfalfa that is 28% protein, grows 12 to 17 feet tall and produces 20 to 30 tons per acre! Carey Reams was hired by the nation of Israel, when they first became a nation, to show them how to turn the desert into highly productive farmland.

Eating Local All Year

Over the past number of years we have changed the type of foods that we eat as a family. We used to try to buy the cheapest food, thinking that nutritionally, all food was basically the same. That is probably more true than what most realize if you are talking about grocery store food. However, as we have learned about nutritious, nutrient dense foods, we realized that if we want to eat nutrient dense food, we have to grow it ourselves. It also means preserving the harvest so that we have it to eat all year, not just in the summer months.

It is hardly worth gardening if you are just trying to save money at the grocery store. For all the time, equipment, and work involved, it is probably cheaper and definitely easier to just buy it at the grocery store. However, like most things, the cost of grocery store food is much greater than what you pay at the register. The fact that health care is the number one industry in America is proof of the poor quality of foods in the grocery stores. I find it interesting watching the people purchasing cheap food at Walmart – observing what they are buying and looking at the people to see if they look healthy. A large percentage of the people do not have the picture of health.  The government’s idea of fixing health care does not address the real problem. True health care reform needs to start with the soil and adding in the nutrients and minerals that are necessary for human health (not just what is necessary to make a plant grow). The food that we eat is a big contributor to our health or lack thereof. We are what we eat.

There is something satisfying about improving the quality of the soil, producing nutrient dense vegetables for our family, and storing up all that good food for the months ahead. It puts gardening in a totally different perspective. For us it is no longer about saving money. It is not about keeping a weed free garden – a few weeds won’t change the nutrient density of the food. It is about giving my family the health care they need from the ground up.

I looked at our calendar and saw what Cathy had written down over the past month of what she and the girls had harvested and stored away for us to eat until the garden produce comes in again next summer. I thought you might be interested in peeking over my shoulder at what she had written there. This, of course, does not include the other varieties of vegetables that are yet to be harvested as they ripen over the next several months.

Everything, except for the peaches, was raised here on our farm.

July  1   Made 6 pints of butter
        4   Picked and froze 42 1/2 quarts of green beans
        6   Froze 30 quarts of green beans and 5 pints of sugar peas
        8   Made 45 pints of wineberry jam(wild red raspberry) plus 12 pints
             frozen raspberries
        10 Froze 20 quarts of green beans
        13 Froze 12 quarts of green beans
        14 Canned 92 quarts of dill pickles
        15 Made 13 1/2 pints of butter (Put in the freezer)
        18 Froze 18 quarts of green beans
        21 Made 6 gallons of cucumber juice and froze to later make into V8
            juice when the tomatoes are ripe
        22 Processed and froze 21 quarts of corn. The corn was husked, silked,
            blanched, and cut off the cob.
        23 Made 9 pints of butter and froze
        25 Froze 11 quarts of green beans
        27 Froze 17 quarts of corn.
        28 Froze 14 1/2 quarts of beans
        29 Made 2 gallons of cucumber juice
             Canned 20 pints of zucchini relish
             Canned 36 pints of dill pickle slices
Aug  1  Froze 10 quarts of peaches and 18 quarts of corn
         3  Froze 17 quarts of beans
         4  Canned 70 quarts of  peaches, 5 quarts of peach nectar, and 22
             pints of zucchini relish
         6  Canned 40 pints of cucumber relish

Pictures of Processing Corn For Freezing

Cutting Corn
Cathy and Joel trimming the corn after it was husked.

Silking Corn
Daniel and Nathan taking the silk off of the corn. The spinning brush on the motor takes the silk off.

Creaming Corn
Cathy, Kara, and Daniel cutting the corn off the cob to get it ready for the freezer.
The corn was 28 brix, and the best corn we have ever eaten!

Are You Eating Garbage?

Minerals, as we all know, are vital for life. Getting enough calcium, vitamins and colloidal minerals is essential for keeping our body running well and rebuilding the cells on time, and with all the proper building blocks.

However, we cannot live on mineral and vitamin supplements. God gave us food to eat, not mineral supplements. After all, let’s ask the question: why do we take supplements? Because those minerals and vitamins are not sufficient in our diet. There’s not enough mineral colloids in our vegetables, nor in the grass and grain that the animals eat who provide our milk, butter, cheese, eggs and meat. Mineral supplements are a crutch–a very necessary crutch, but a crutch, nonetheless.

I used to have the impression that we could just give our animals whatever minerals were lacking in their pasture and they would be healthy. However, I realized last year that that is not the true path to health. Those minerals need to be in the soil, so that the soil grows healthy, nutrient-dense plants with well-built proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Then the animals who eat those plants will also be healthy.

The same thing applies with our own food. Let’s suppose, for a moment, that you decide to be really cheap on your food budget. So you go around to the back of the grocery stores and find their old, reject, half-rotten produce that they set out by the dumpster. You load up those boxes into your car. You also find some meat in the dumpster that is past its expiration date, but it hasn’t yet turned to compost in the package. Inside the store, you buy a couple gallons of oil and several quarts of blackstrap molasses, and when you get home, the UPS guy has delivered the package of mineral supplements that you ordered the other day. You cook up the half-rotten broccoli and carrots that you found in one box, making sure to add the right amount of oil and molasses to add minerals, oils and sugars to the food, to make it more digestible. You stick the dumpster roast in the oven, with a mineral-rich herb concoction and some more oil and blackstrap. You make a salad with the limp lettuce and mushy spinach from another box, and make up some salad dressing with oil and vinegar, being sure again to add some more blackstrap. At supper time, you set your offering on the table, and tell everybody to be sure to take their supplements. The rest of the family looks at what you set on the table–and begins running for the bathroom, the back yard and the trash can to empty whatever their stomach may already contain. You eat your concoctions–and are sick with food poisoning for the next two days.

Silly? Let’s say that instead, you buy your veggies and meat inside the grocery store. The vegetables are low in the minerals needed to make healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and the steer that your roast came from was fed low-mineral GMO corn. Not only do they not contain enough minerals to make you healthy, but they were not healthy themselves. The vegetables have free nitrogen that was never turned into protein because there wasn’t enough calcium to make the plant work right. Therefore, the plants do not contain all the building blocks for cells that they could have, nor all the anti-oxidants that they should have. God’s garbage crew–insects- -should have eaten it themselves, but thanks to the insecticides that the farmer sprayed on, the garbage crew is dead and the garbage is on the shelf for you to buy. It is also deficient in natural sugars and oils, important for making food digestible. The roast is deficient, not only in minerals, but also in vitamins and healthy fats like Omega-3 and CLA because it was not fed the diet that God meant for that steer to eat. The apples you buy for dessert are full of reducing sugars, which turn brown when you expose them to the air. This indicates a lack of antioxidants and nutrition in general. You bring all this stuff home and cook it up, making sure to re-mineralize your food, and pass around the supplements at the table. But that does not turn the free nitrogen into protein, or replace the missing Omega-3 and CLA. In short, you add some stuff back in, but you are not dining on healthy food.

Dr. Carey A. Reams, a pioneer in growing nutrient-dense food, said that the Bible is the best health book ever written. We need to go to God’s Word to find out what we should eat. So what does it tell us?

In Psalm 103:5, it says of God that He "satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s." Notice what it says: "good things". I don’t believe that means mineral supplements, or low-quality lettuce. "Good things" means food that is high in minerals and nutrition, high in antioxidants and good fats, and well-built because it received good nutrition while it was growing.

This passage tells us that God satisfies our mouths with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. What does that mean? Periodically, an eagle will go off to a secluded spot and molt. Its claws and feathers drop out, and are replaced with new ones. When it comes back, it looks like a new eagle, even though it may be many years old. That eagle can even live up to 50 years of age.

In the same way, our bodies are constantly rebuilding themselves. Every six months, if your body is working right, your system replaces every cell. It has to replace that cell with something. If you are eating garbage, your cell will be replaced with one made from garbage. In order for your youth to be renewed like the eagle’s, you need to consume "good things"–nutrient-dense foods.

Low-mineral food is, according to Dr. Arden Andersen, garbage. He said: "Insects are Nature’s garbage crew… God designed insects to take out that which is not fit to eat. But we’re smarter than God, right? So we kill the garbage crew, and we consume the garbage, and then we wonder why we’re sick…" (Quoted from memory, probably somewhat paraphrased)

So, should we take mineral supplements and re-mineralize our food with things like blackstrap molasses? Of course, if you need to. If you’ve been eating garbage for forty years, you’re going to be mineral-deficient, so it makes sense to take supplements to "jump start" things and get your body back into shape. If the best peas you can find are low in minerals, then by all means, add some oil and blackstrap molasses. But if you want to have true health, you need to eat "good things", not garbage.

I suggest that everyone get a copy of the most recent edition of Nourishment Home Grown by A. F. Beddoe. (The latest one–the 2004 edition–is available from http://www.advancedideals.org/) This is a great book for the backyard gardener. It will teach you how to grow your own nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. It also has a section with tips on how to get the best produce when shopping at the grocery store, how to add minerals to deficient food, and how to test the nutrient density of food that you grow or buy.

Another good place to look is http://www.crossroads.ws. It has a free, online e-book explaining the basics of nutrient density.

If you need a source for soil amendments to add minerals to your soil, a great place is Lancaster Ag Products (http://www.lancasterag.com/). Although they are in Lancaster County, PA, they do some shipping, so you may not actually have to go to Pennsylvania for soil amendments.

Learn what you can about nutrient-dense food. Your health depends upon it.

Forest Garden

Earlier this year we encouraged you to plant a garden. Recently, I found out about the interesting concept of a forest garden that we would like to try. A forest garden is the gardening answer for many who have a wooded lot that is too shady for a conventional garden plot. There are many plants that will grow in the shade or semi shaded areas. Here on the farm the wild grape vines climb up trees. They are not out in the open pasture. The wine berries grow at the edge of the woods. The following description of a forest garden is from the Plants for a Future website, http://www.pfaf.org/leaflets/woodgard.php

"A woodland, on the other hand, might seem to be a very unproductive area for human food (unless you happen to like eating acorns). By choosing the right species, however, a woodland garden can produce a larger crop of food than the same area of wheat, will require far less work to manage it and will be able to be sustainably harvested without harm to the soil or the environment in general…

"One of the main reasons why a woodland garden can be so productive is that such a wide range of plants can be grown together, making much more efficient use of the land. The greater the diversity of plants being grown together then the greater the overall growth of plant matter there is. Thus you can have tall growing trees with smaller trees and shrubs that can tolerate some shade growing under them. Climbing plants can make their own ways up the trees and shrubs towards the light, whilst shade-tolerant herbaceous plants and bulbs can grow on the woodland floor."

An inspiring description of "The garden of love", a forest garden in England:   http://www.pfaf.org/leaflets/gdlovene.php
Forest Garden Website:
http://www.edibleforestgardens.com/about_gardening

Creative Destruction Related to Farms

When I (Myron) was young, the United States produced a lot of extra food that was exported to many countries. The U.S. was called the breadbasket of the world. But times have changed. The number of farms have decreased, population has increased and we now import almost 50% of our food. What has perplexed me is that the government doesn’t seem to care that each year we have to import a greater portion of our food. Part of our national security is our ability to produce our own food and not have to rely on other countries for our food. There are many things we can live without, but we can’t live without food.

Recently, I found out the reason why farms have been declining in America. It is part of financial engineering by the Federal Reserve in an attempt to create a higher standard of living for Americans. The economic theory is called "Creative Destruction". The philosophy of creative destruction also explains why the U.S. government changed regulations for domestic manufacturing and clothing factories so that it became too costly to produce their products in the U.S. The result has been that most of our manufacturing segment has moved oversees. Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that the concept of creative destruction is not a conspiracy theory of someone speculating on the motives of the Federal Reserve. It is a philosophy that the Fed has clearly stated it is using. The following are former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s own words from a speech given on Oct. 21, 2007:

"We have been doing things different for quite a long period of years. And many of them turned out to be awful. So I think that the issue always rests in capitalist market economy which as you point out has its roots and its necessities in creative destruction because remember it is only creative destruction that creates higher standards of living.

"Because by definition creative destruction is essentially moving the capital from less productive obsolescent industries to cutting edge technology related industries and by definition the moving a body of capital from the low output per man hour type industries to higher man hour output industries and that obviously raises the average and its only the average increase in productivity which generates higher standards of living. There is no other way that we have found and that includes having oil in the ground or gold somewhere. Adam Smith is right it is essentially the wealth of nations is determined by productivity and productivity can be advanced only in broad economies such as those which we deal with by a form of competitiveness and that generates creative destruction.

"As I say in the book I’ve just written there is a very significant problem here of the destruction part. Because remember when you move the capital from the lesser productive industries to the more, you also have to move people. And its always been a major problem in the fact that there are losers as well as winners and how to handle that problem is always been critical and necessary in order to maintain a viable market system. But the truth of the matter is there is no other system which has worked as well." (From the website: http://www.womensgroup.org/Per-Jacobsson-Foundation-Lecture.htm?eventID=941)

Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in a speech to the governors of the southern states, said the following:

"The destructive side of capitalism’s creative destruction is evident in lost jobs. Let me share a few numbers for the states you govern. The number of workers in apparel manufacturing in your states decreased 80 percent between 1990 and 2005. In the same 15-year period, payrolls fell 18 percent at paper manufacturers and 15 percent for furniture makers. The number of farm workers decreased 6 percent, and the number of mine workers declined 5 percent. That is pretty painful stuff. And it is not ancient history. It all occurred within a time frame that is fresh in the memory of everyone in this room—between 1990 and 2005.

"And yet, despite these employment losses, each state in the Southern region now has a larger job base than it did in 1990. North Carolina, for example, has created 1 million net new jobs since 1990. Texas’ employment has risen by more than 3 million since 1990.

"Why? Because the creative side of creative destruction outpaced the destructive side. Your economies replaced lost jobs in declining sectors with new ones in emerging, higher-value-added sectors. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of data processing and Internet service provider workers in Southern states increased 65 percent. Professional services workers grew 63 percent. Financial services employees increased 31 percent. Retail employment grew 23 percent. By 2005, the financial and real estate services sectors employed as many Southern workers as the manufacturing sector. Lodging and food services accounted for the same share of the Southern workforce as construction.

"Health care sector employment in the South alone grew by 2.3 million from 1990 to 2005. Let me put that in perspective: For every manufacturing job lost in the Southern states between 1990 and 2005, the health care sector created 2.4 new jobs."  (from the website http://www.dallasfed.org/news/speeches/fisher/2007/fs070825.cfm)

Time will tell if creative destruction is the greatest thing the Federal Reserve ever did, or if it will turn out, to use Alan Greenspan’s words, "to be awful". There are a number of questions that comes to my mind.  Is creative destruction sustainable in the long run when we give up industries, food and clothing, that are basic necessities of life? If creative destruction is sustainable, why do we need 2.4 new health care workers for every manufacturing job that was lost? Is our health decreasing so fast from eating cheap food that we need that many more health care workers? Do politicians really believe that increasing the health care industry is more sustainable for the US economy in the long run than producing food?

Cathy and I are of the opinion that the intentional creative destruction of local farms and the government’s encouragement of eating cheap food has been a mistake. However, rather than focus on the negative, on our farm we are rowing against the flow of creative destruction to provide you with nutritious, nutrient dense, healthy, local food that is difficult to find, but which is important for your health. This year we encourage you to eat local for your health and the financial health of the local farms who are rowing against the flow of creative destruction.

World Food Crisis

An indicator that the intentional creative destruction of local farms was a bad idea is that there is a growing shortage of food worldwide. The food shortage is only partially caused by biofuel production. The total world production of food is not enough. The poorest countries are being hit the hardest because they can’t afford the higher cost of food. The price of rice has increased from $460 a ton to over $1000 in just a few month’s time. That also means that humanitarian relief can now feed less than half as many people as before with the same amount of money. Twelve countries have had food riots, and the prime minister of Haiti was run out of office because of their food shortage.

Our dependence on other countries for food is greater than most people realize. Most people have no idea the total volume of food that they consume each year. Nor do they realize how difficult it would be for each family to produce all the food that their family needs for the entire year if they had to. I know we didn’t realize how difficult it was until we started farming. We raise almost all the meat we eat. We produce all the eggs we want. Our two cows provide most of the milk, butter, ice cream, and yogurt we eat. We have a large garden, and Cathy freezes and cans lots of vegetables. You would think that we were almost self sufficient, but we are not! We still spend around $6,000 at the grocery store or for other off farm food purchases for our family of eight. That amount includes total grocery store purchases which includes toilet paper, detergents, etc. Producing everything  you eat for an entire year is difficult.

There is a slogan that applies to the present food crisis: "Think globally, act locally". The more food we produce and consume locally, the less food that has to be imported and taken from poorer countries who can’t compete with us price wise for the food. If we eat more potatoes and less rice, it means more rice will be available for others. We encourage you to consider doing some gardening this year. If you have not yet started a garden or even just a few tomato plants, it is not too late to do it.

Plant a Garden This Year

We encourage you to consider raising some of your own vegetables this year. You cannot eat more local than out of your own back yard or patio.The food you eat is important to your health. When we buy food in the grocery store, even organic food, we do not know the health of the soil was that it was raised in. It is difficult to be healthier than the health of the soil that our food was grown in. Supplements can help, but eating "garbage" and then taking some vitamin and supplement pills is not a good recipe for health. 

We have been learning a lot the last six months about raising nutrient dense food. Nutrient dense food is being encouraged by the Weston A. Price Foundation and others. The key is to have the proper amount of trace minerals and biological activity in the soil. You can test the plant, fruit, or vegetable with a refractometer to find the brix (sugar and mineral content) reading. The refractometer can be purchased for $35 – $50 and is very simple to use. We are realizing that what we had in the past considered to be good food, is not as good as it can be.  An example of excellent nutrient dense produce is the following excerpt from an email that was on the BrixTalk Yahoo Group recently. Imagine having tomatoes that you could keep all winter without canning them, and they wouldn’t rot! It would save a lot of time preserving them and the nutrient dense food would be much better for us.

"Last year, we decided to use lime, rock phosphate, gypsum and iron sulfate (for pH modification to 6.4) in our tubs in addition to the fertilizers we had been using in the past. We could grow tomatoes where we could get good brix levels and about 50-60 large sized tomatoes per plant in the past. The additional nutrients we added last year on ten tomato plants produced an average brix of 10 for the large sized tomatoes, but the yields per plant went to about 400 tomatoes per plant in three pickings. We found that the tomatoes in the final picking that were green, ripened at room temperature in two to three weeks. We also found that we have been able to store these tomatoes at room temperature for 5 months and the vast majority of them didn’t spoil. They do shrivel up a bit as water comes out of the tomatoes. Most of the stored tomatoes are not shriveled and have remained quite sweet. For quantities of fertilizers, I followed a book written by Dr A.F. Beddoe, one of Dr. Ream’s students.

"A couple of years ago we were able to get Yukon Gold potatoes up as high as 2 lbs. in weight with many at 1.5 lbs. The normal number of tubers per plant is about 7. We were able to get 19 per plant. We averaged about 11 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes from two plants in a tub. That year we were harvesting tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and yellow crook nick squash a little under 30 days after transplanting the plants. Best Regards, Thomas Giannou"

Thomas has further information on his website:
http://www.tandjenterprises.com/tandj_container_gardening.htm 
Some other good websites are http://www.highbrixgardens.com/ and http://www.crossroads.ws/brixbook/BBook.htm
The book referenced, written by Dr. A.F. Beddoe, is titled Nourishment Home Grown, the 2004 edition. The 2004 edition is only available from Dr. Beddoe at http://www.advancedideals.org/016_book_ordering.html

OK, here is one more reason to consider planting a garden this year. Yesterday, March 9, 2008 the New York Times ran the article: A Global Need For Grain That Farms Can’t Fill. It tells how the global demand for food is greater than the supply. We have been used to an abundant supply of cheap food in the grocery stores, but it may not always be that way. This is one of several articles we have seen about a global food shortage. Some are predicting that the next big crisis will be a food shortage. No one knows what will happen. We can’t grow our own gasoline, but we can grow our own food. There is a learning curve in learning how to grow vegetables successfully. By raising vegetables now, we can learn how to do it successfully and productively rather than waiting until things get more serious. And if nothing serious develops, we still have that satisfied feeling as we eat the delicious, nutritious produce that we grew ourselves. Here is the link to the NY Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/worldbusiness/09crop.html?_r=1&em&ex=1205380800&en=edc992e29863088d&ei=5087%0A

Happy gardening!