It seems logical that healthier soil could grow healthier food. But how do we measure this and demonstrate it scientifically? Exploring links between the nutrient density of food and the soil it was grown in remains a young field of study—we often have more questions than answers.
The Bionutrient Institute is a collaborative project that seeks to shed light on this topic. In 2018 they began analyzing crops and soil samples from a wide range of farms across the country to help us understand connections between soil health and food nutrition. Pasa partnered with Bionutrient Institute in 2020 to measure the nutrient content of crops grown by farmers participating in our Soil Health Benchmark Study. These analyses can help us understand whether different approaches to field management can produce healthier food.
Helping farmers explore links between soil health and nutrition could additionally offer a valuable marketing tool and a new opportunity to educate customers about the benefits of sustainable practices. Join us to learn more about this national project and what it’s uncovered so far.
Dr. Dan TerAvest is a soil scientist and co-founder of Our Sci LLC. Our Sci’s mission is to support community-driven environmental and agricultural research through the development of open source hardware and software and training. Dan and the team at Our Sci have partnered with the Bionutrient Institute, leading the development of the data platform and sensors for the Bionutrient Meter. Dan developed the Bionutrient Institute’s community partner programs, working with farmers and community scientists to source the samples and metadata (how the food was grown) needed to build a robust library of food, soil, and management data.
Dan Kittredge has been an organic farmer for more than 30 years and is the founder and executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA), a nonprofit whose mission is to increase quality in the food supply. Known as one of the leading proponents of nutrient density, Dan works to demonstrate the connections between soil health, plant health, and human health.
Eric Nordell is an vegetable farmer with decades of experience managing crops and soils using organic and diversified practices. Eric and his wife Anne own and manage Beech Grove Farm in north central Pennsylvania and participate in our Soil Health Benchmark Study.
Sarah Bay Nawa is Pasa’s research coordinator. Sarah works to support Pasa farm-based research projects. She has more than a decade of combined farming and farm-advising experience from New Morning Farm, Fulton Farm at Wilson College, and Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative.
Photo credit: Who Cooks for You Farm