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Future of Agriculture

Welcome to the Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich. This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you! For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAg.com. Or, to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, visit www.AgGrad.com Make sure you’re subscribed so you can catch another fascinating ag innovator next week!
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Now displaying: Page 1
Nov 24, 2021

Bionutrient Food Association: https://bionutrient.org/

Bionutrient Institute: https://www.bionutrientinstitute.org/ 

Bionutrient meter: https://bionutrient.org/bionutrientmeter 

Over the past few years, the term “nutrient density” has been popping up more and more. There are a lot of claims being made about farming practices like regenerative agriculture producing more nutritious food or more nutrient dense food. But is this true? I mean, if you increase the amount of one nutrient are you really making it more nutrient dense or are you maybe just doing so at the expense of other nutrients? And if there are more of any given nutrient in a product, does that make it necessarily healthier? 

The truth is we don’t really know. There is no agreed upon standard for nutrient density. And many people and companies are not letting that stop them latching onto the term and running with it for their own marketing purposes. You’ve heard evidence of that right here on previous episodes of this show. Also, without collecting a large amount of data on the various compounds in agricultural products, we can’t really even say if it matters.  

Our guest today is making progress in defining nutrient density with data and has created an open-source consumer-priced handheld bionutrient meter that can provide a real time percentile of nutrient compound levels in eight different crops so far. He has a vision of someday using nutrient density as an important data point to optimize our food system in a variety of ways. But first we need the data to define what the nutrient profile should look like in each crop and the instrumentation to test this in every level of the food system, which he’ll be the first to admit that we still have a long way to go toward that end. 

We have on the show Dan Kittredge. Dan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Bionutrient Food Association. Dan was an organic farmer for more than 30 years and founded the Bionutrient Food Association or BFA with the mission of increasing quality in the food supply. Dan’s perspective is healthier food comes from healthier plants which come from healthier environments. So, if we can develop a reliable and accessible measurement of healthy food, we can use that as a critical metric for a better food system. 

Dan’s vision is really interesting: once we have clear definitions and the instrumentation to give everyone access to the data, it creates a feedback loop that can optimize our food system for true quality. Dan believes this can nullify the need for a lot of labels about how a food is grown because what will matter is the data - both on quality and environmental impact. He’s going to share the effects this could have on farming practices, genetics, health and consumer choice. Some of this may stretch your thinking here a little bit and you may find yourself wanting to see the evidence. That’s ok - and the story here is what Dan and the BFA are doing to search for the data to inform this very interesting thesis.

In order to make sure this was a pre-competitive effort, Dan and the team have made their device open source. Dan says it’s a very early version of what we will need in the future, but it has allowed them to initially start collecting data with consumers at grocery stores and farmers markets and grow into working with 150 farmers as they did last year. Dan starts our conversation off with an overview of the Bionutrient Food Association. 

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