Research Examples

The following are examples of foods grown for increased nutrient content, also known as Nutrition Grown™.  In most of these examples, the “Beyond Organic” Nutrition Grown™ foods are compared to USDA values from the current food nutrient database. You will also find studies and research examples illustrating the need for Nutrition Grown™ methods. 

Mineral Changes over 50 Years

Nutrition Grown vs USDA Values

Nutrition Grown vs USDA Values

Nutrition Grown vs USDA Values

Nutrition Grown vs USDA Values

Nutrition Grown vs USDA Values

Blood Glucose Response to Apples

Does the cultivation system in which apples are grown affect blood glucose response from the resulting fruits?

Field reports from diabetic patients and preliminary trial data suggest this may be so.  For example, a diabetic patient in Washington state had been told by his doctor to not eat fruit because it would spike his blood glucose.  He monitored his responses regularly at home with his own blood glucose meter.  He was surprised to find that apples and cherries from orchards that were managed with nutrient-rich methods did not spike his blood glucose, yet the same fruit cultivars which were conventionally grown would spike his blood glucose.  His doctor did not believe him, so to prove his theory the patient sat in the doctor’s office, ate a bowl of well-grown cherries and tested his blood glucose response there on the spot!

When I heard the field reports, the nutritionist in me was certainly intrigued and I immediately began planning an experimental trial for myself.  I got some apples shipped from Washington state and bought a blood glucose meter.    Let me help you understand the way the testing was done.  I ate apples and tested my blood glucose response on 3 different days.  The reason for this is that I had to start in the morning with a fasting blood glucose as a baseline.  This means I had not eaten anything since the night before so that my blood glucose would be near the same level at the start of each day of the trial.  So the first thing each morning was getting my baseline reading, then I ate the apples (the same amount each time) and tested my blood glucose every 10 minutes. 

 

Image 1 above, shows the results.  The response to the well-managed apples is the green line.  What was extremely surprising was that the apples with the highest level of sugars (measured in degrees Brix) had the lowest blood glucose effect!  This was completely counter-intuitive!  Apparently, when apples are grown well, they are able to taste wonderfully sweet and yet not spike the blood glucose.

The red line on the chart represents the glycemic response to the lower brix apples.  Even though the apples had less sugar, they caused the blood glucose to rise past 140 mg/dl.  The blue line, representing the medium brix apples peaked between the others, which seems logical.  Notice though, that the blood glucose dropped to near baseline quickly, whereas the higher brix green line continued on a low plateau for an extended period–just what we want from a food–sustained energy.

I did perform many other trials with various apples for comparison.  I learned, for example, that just because an apple achieves a high brix reading does not mean that it will show a low glycemic effect.  The method of growing appears to be key.  What factors in these well-grown apples are responsible for the effect?  That is one of the next research questions to be answered.  This is it–the cutting edge of research!

Another Blood Glucose Trial with Apples

Image 2 illustrates another trial with Fuji apples–Conventional Growing vs. Biological “Beyond Organic” type growing methods.  The conventional apples’ blood glycemic response (red line) spiked up quickly to its peak in only 20 minutes.  It also descended quickly, going well below baseline and remaining there.  These levels below baseline indicate a hypoglycemic response.  Hypoglycemia can make one feel hungry, tired, and foggy-headed.

By contrast, the “Beyond Organic” Biologically-Grown apples’ blood glycemic response (blue line) had a much slower rise to peak–60 minutes.  The peak was quite a bit lower at approximately 110 mg/dl, as opposed to the conventional apples’ glycemic peak at approximately 122 mg/dl.  Furthermore, the “Beyond Organic” glycemic response curve dipped only slightly below baseline before quickly returning to normal levels.

I find this type of work absolutely fascinating and feel that it has great potential for not only diabetics, those with hypoglycemic and/or weight issues, but also for the health of our entire population.

Influence of Biologically Enhanced Organic Production on Antioxidant and Sensory Qualities of (Malus x DomesticaBorkh. CV Braeburn) Apples

By  Jana BogsMarisa BunningCecil Stushnoff

The following is the abstract of a scientific article published in the peer-reviewed journal Organic Agriculture:

Organic Agriculture       June 2012, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 117-126

Abstract

(Malus x domesticaBorkh. cv Braeburn) apples grown at Royal City, WA, USA under biologically enhanced organic (BEO) methods with nutrient and microbial enhancements were compared with apples produced using conventional methods. Apples from the outer and inner tree canopies were evaluated for antioxidant capacity, soluble solids content (SSC), shelf life, and consumer acceptability by sensory taste panels. Formazan soil tests to estimate microbial activity were correlated with fruit properties. There were no differences (P > 0.05) in 2,2′-azino-bis[3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid]/Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (ABTS/TEAC) or 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH/TEAC) antioxidant capacity between BEO and conventional cv Braeburn apples. However, BEO apples had a higher level (P = 0.003) of total phenolics (TP) assessed by Folin–Ciocalteu reagent than conventional apples, and outer-canopy apples had higher SSC (P = 0.002), as well as higher TP, ABTS, and DPPH antioxidant properties (P < 0.01) compared to inner-canopy apples. BEO apples from both outer and inner canopies also had higher SSC (P < 0.001) than those conventionally grown. There was no difference in shelf life between BEO and conventional apples (P = 0.366), nor between outer-canopy and inner-canopy apples (P = 0.286). The overall acceptability sensory ratings for BEO apples were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than conventional fruits and outside-canopy fruits were rated superior to inner-canopy fruits (P < 0.001).

 

Dr. Bogs’ Dissertation Abstract:

ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION

EFFECTS OF ORGANIC, BIOLOGICAL AND CONVENTIONAL PRODUCTION METHODS ON APPLE ANTIOXIDANT LEVELS, SENSORY QUALITIES AND HUMAN GLYCEMIC RESPONSE

 

Different cultivation systems of fruit trees may influence fruit nutrient and phytochemical content, and consequently, human responses.  This experiment compared two cultivars of apples (Malus domesticaMill.) each under differing cultivation systems.  These were evaluated for antioxidant activity, human glycemic response, soluble solids content, shelf life and consumer acceptability by human sensory panels.  In addition, soil and leaf tissue tests were performed and correlated to the above results.

‘Braeburn’ (M. domestica) apples grown in Washington state under biologically-enhanced organic and conventional methods were evaluated in 2007.  Treatments were split to include apples from the outside and inside of the tree canopies.  There were no differences (P > 0.05) in ABTS or DPPH antioxidant activity between organic and conventional ‘Braeburn’ apples.  Organic ‘Braeburn’ apples had a higher level (P = 0.003) of total phenolics (TP) than the conventional apples.  Outside-canopy apples had higher TP, ABTS and DPPH antioxidant activity levels (P < 0.01) than inside-canopy apples.  Organically-grown ‘Braeburn’ apples from both outside and inside the canopies had higher soluble solids levels (P < 0.001) than those conventionally-grown.  Fruit soluble solids content was higher (P = 0.002) in ‘Braeburn’ apples from outside the canopies than from inside the canopies.  There was no difference in shelf life between organic and conventional ‘Braeburn’ apples (P = 0.366), nor between outside-canopy and inside-canopy apples (P = 0.286).  The ‘Braeburn’ overall acceptability sensory ratings for organic apples were significantly higher (P < 0.001), than conventional fruits, and outside-canopy fruits surpassed inside-canopy fruits (P < 0.001).

‘Crimson Gala’ (M. domestica) apples from Washington state orchards grown under biologically-enhanced conventional management and typical conventional management were evaluated in 2008.  The biological apples had higher ABTS antioxidant activity than the conventional (P = 0.0498).  The conventional ‘Gala’ apples had higher DPPH antioxidant activity (P = 0.002) than the biological.  There was no difference (P = 0.681) between the biological and conventional ‘Gala’ apple total phenolics (TP) levels.  None of the values used to compare human glycemic response were statistically different (P > 0.05).  The conventionally-grown ‘Gala’ apples had higher soluble solids levels (P = 0.005), greater shelf life (P = 0.035), and a higher overall sensory rating (P = 0.014) than the biologically-grown fruit.  The above measured values were also correlated with soil, leaf, and fruit tissue values.  It should be noted that the biological ‘Gala’ orchard had a soil with a cation exchange capacity (CEC) of 7.1 meq/100g compared to the conventional control orchard’s CEC of 11.3 meq/100g, which may have negatively affected the quality of the biological apples.  Understanding how cultivation practices affect consumer acceptance will encourage growers to further improve production practices.

 

Jana D. Bogs

Department of Horticulture

and Landscape Architecture

ColoradoStateUniversity

Fort   Collins, CO80523

 

NUTRITION FARMING FOR HAWAII

A grant-funded research and demonstration garden project

Nutrition Farming for Hawaii (NFH) is a grant-funded research and demonstration garden project, which also provides food to the community and training for farmers.  The aim is to demonstrate how food nutrient content is affected by soil health, show these parameters can be improved, and disseminate the information.  The overarching goal is to improve human health and raise environmental awareness.

The NFH project is led by Dr. Jana Bogs in collaboration with Hawaii Institute for Pacific Agriculture (HIP Ag) who provide land and much labor.  Dr. Hector Valenzuela, a full professor and Hawaii statewide Vegetable Crops Extension Specialist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is in the role of advisor.

The project was started in 2017 on soil that had been fallowed to pasture for approximately 40 years.  Before that, it was in conventional sugarcane production for about 100 years.

The soil was tested with a Nutrition Grown™ soil analysis and a soil microbial analysis.  Amendments, fertilizers, and microbial inoculants were added.  Twenty-four varieties of garden crops were planted throughout the first year, including various lettuces, kales, collards, arugula, carrots, beets, radishes, amaranth, taro, green beans, basil, cilantro, bok choy, chards, green onions, and cucumbers.   Plant tissue analyses were performed and used to determine the best foliar nutrient sprays to be applied.  Testing of the nutrient content of the final food products was also done throughout the year, and the values were compared to the USDA Food Nutrient Database values.  (See examples below.)

The soil was re-analyzed in the fall, six months after the soil amendments had been added.  These analyses were compared and summarized in a chart below.  In addition, soil microbial life had multiplied to 15 times the original number.  Please note that soil improvements, and hence plant tissue improvements, take place over a period of years.  We were pleased with the progress achieved in this, our first year.  Overall, the Nutrition Grown™ crops contain close to double the nutrient content as compared to the USDA database values.

We were especially pleased to see improved levels of nutrients, like calcium and zinc, which are often lacking in human diets.  In the end, it is all about achieving the right balance of nutrients, not just “more”.  Some items, such as phosphorus, were at lower levels in our Nutrition Grown™ foods than in the USDA chart.  Phosphorus is rarely lacking in human diets, so we are not as concerned about the lower levels.  The soil had very low levels of phosphorus and we did add some soft rock phosphate, an organically-acceptable form which comes available slowly in the soil.  We will be adding more phosphorus in the future, especially since Hawaii soils tend to tie up phosphorus, making it unavailable to the plants.  Getting the soil right takes some time!

We shared our progress throughout the year on the BeyondOrganicResearch.com blog and in local newspapers,  including a front page article (below), as data became available.  Dr. Bogs presented the project formally to HIP Ag interns in September and at the Third Thursday Thrive meeting in October.  Nutrition Farming for Hawaii booths gained attention at both the well-attended `Aina Fest and the Nuts Festival in Kona.

It is with much heart-felt gratitude that we thank our grant-making foundations for funding our project.  We also thank our fiscal sponsor, the North Kohala Community Resource Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, for helping us through the process of grant-finding and administration. 

2018-2019 Update

Nutrition Farming for Hawaii (NFH) had a successful second year with the research and demonstration garden, which also provides food to the community and the Farm-to-School Program.  Our aim is to demonstrate how food nutrient content is affected by soil health, show that these parameters can be improved, and share the information gained.  The overarching goals are to increase the quality and quantity of locally-produced foods through educational means, improve human health, and raise environmental awareness.

The NFH project is led by Dr. Jana Bogs (PhD Horticulture and Food Science) in collaboration with Hawaii Institute for Pacific Agriculture (HIP Ag) who provide land and much labor in-kind.  Dr. Hector Valenzuela, a full professor and Hawaii statewide Vegetable Crops Extension Specialist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is in the role of advisor.

Activities

We did not receive full funding this past year, however we carried on the best we could.

The soil was re-analyzed with a Nutrition Grown™ soil analysis and a soil microbial analysis. Amendments, fertilizers, and microbial inoculants were added.  Many varieties of garden crops were planted throughout the year, including lettuces, kales, collards, carrots, taro, bok choy, chard, green onions, and various herbs.  Plant tissue analyses were performed and used to determine the best foliar nutrient sprays to be applied.  Testing of the nutrient content of the final food products was also done throughout the year, and the values were compared to the USDA Food Nutrient Database values (12 comparisons).

We also continued our educational outreach program detailed in the next section.

Results

The soil was re-analyzed approximately every six months (after the soil amendments had been added).  We have seen continual improvement in soil parameters, including beneficial soil microbial life whose numbers have continued to rise.  Please note that soil improvements, and hence plant tissue improvements, take place over a period of years.  We did, however, notice a distinct improvement in the texture of the soil. It is now less sticky and more friable.  This is due to raising the calcium to magnesium ratio, which is considered the most important soil factor in farming success.  Overall, the Nutrition Grown™ crops contain close to double the nutrient content as compared to the USDA database values.  (See results at bottom of page.)

Over 400 school children and numerous interns with the Hawaii Institute for Pacific Agriculture (HIP Ag) visited and learned from the garden.  They also got to enjoy eating the food produced there.

Unlike our first year, we had little press coverage this year.  The newspapers suddenly seem to require us to spend advertising dollars with them in order to be able to place an article.  Therefore we shifted our focus to share our progress throughout the year mainly through live presentations and agricultural event booths.

Dr. Bogs was invited to speak (and did!) at several venues in 2018 including Good Intentions Radio and Kauai Community Radio’s In the Garden On the Farm Show in May, the Kona Public Library in June, and Dragonfly Ranch in Honaunau in December. In 2019, Dr. Bogs presented at the Avocado Festival in Kona in February, the Hawaii Farmers Union United Kohala Chapter meeting in Hawi in March, the Hamakua Harvest Festival in May, the Mango Festival in June, and at Hawaiian Sanctuary also in June.

Nutrition Farming for Hawaii gained attention around the Big Island at numerous agricultural event booths including the annual Mango Festivals in Kona, the New Farmer Expo in Hilo in August 2018, the Taste of the Hawaiian Range in Kamuela in September 2018, the well-attended `Aina Fest in Hawi in November 2018, the Nuts Festival in Kona in November 2018, and the Avocado Festival in Kona in February 2019.

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

NFH Results

Overcoming Challenges and What will Happen Next

We did, as many farmers do, have challenges with weather and labor. The volcano surprised us all by spewing lava and vog for months.  We also had hurricane after hurricane dumping huge amounts of water on the field which leached minerals and slowed progress.  The soil samples were sometimes more like “mud samples”.  We did, however, persevere and did produce crops which did feed the community, including local school children.

Keeping a steady supply of labor willing to deal with the adverse conditions was a challenge.  Implementing weed barrier cloth over most of the garden soil controlled the weeds, saved labor, and made working conditions less muddy and much more pleasant.  Obtaining a larger, more efficient sprayer for applying microbes and foliar sprays also saved a lot of labor.

Future plans include continuing our work with improving soil and crops, and documenting that.  We also plan to do continue outreach with our interesting data.  We would like to survey the community to obtain market data, which can be important for encouraging other farms to implement similar programs.  People are asking where they can buy this quality produce, and we would love to be able to hand them a list of farmers and markets where it would be available for purchase.  Implementing an online training course with a hands-on component for farmers and gardeners will be the next step to bring this better quality food to more people’s dinner plates.

It is with much heart-felt gratitude that we thank our granting foundations for funding our project.  We also thank our fiscal sponsor, the North Kohala Community Resource Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, for helping us through the process of grant-finding and administration.  We are seeking more funding for 2019 and beyond to continue our work.  

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Dr. Jana Bogs, NFH Project Leader

Let’s Build Your Healthy Garden Together