Two years ago, as part of an NTS field day, we visited Dean and Helen Bryant’s blueberry farm at Peachester in the Sunshine Coast hinterland (Brymac Industries). During the visit I was demonstrating the use of a refractometer by testing the brix levels of the leaves of the healthy and vibrant blueberry bushes on the property. I was initially convinced that the refractometer was faulty because I could not detect a reading with the device.
The view through the eyepiece revealed a single colour with none of the normal delineation that indicates the relevant brix level. Then I noticed a delineating line running right at the very top of the screen. Refractometers record brix levels, which are an indication of dissolved solids (or nutrient density) within the plant. The devices measure brix levels ranging from 0 to 32 degrees. My confusion was related to the fact that I had never previously encountered any plant anywhere that had literally maxed out the machine. These blueberry bushes measured an amazing 32 degrees brix!
The King Of Fruits
Nutrient density is directly related to taste and shelf life and of course it is hugely important when it comes to the medicinal value of food. James Duke, the remarkable USDA scientist who has spent his life quantifying the relative phytonutrient content of food crops, has this to say about blueberries and their therapeutic potential: “blueberries are analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-sunburn, anti-ulcer and immuno stimulants”. The thing to understand here is that the potency of these purple powerpacks is directly related to how they are grown and, in this context, brix levels are a measure of the health potential of any fresh food. The higher the brix level of the plant leaf, the greater the phytonutrient content of the fruit and the higher the medicinal value of that food.
The taste of Dean Bryant’s berries was sensational. In fact, my young son who had never before liked the taste of blueberries became an overnight convert when he sampled their true potential. I purchased eight punnets of this super fruit for myself during the field day but three containers remained uneaten in my fridge when I departed for an International speaking tour the following week.
Conventional blueberries turn mouldy or begin to degrade after a few days in the fridge. When I returned from over three weeks abroad the blueberries were still edible and delicious. In fact there were only a couple of discards needed from each punnet. It amazes me that the supermarket chains have not recognised the marketing potential of biologically grown food. If you can deliver a product with forgotten flavours, extended shelf life and greater medicinal value, this must surely give you an edge over your competitors.
The increase in shelf life alone should have driven the big players in this direction as it has the potential to seriously reduce losses due to a short shelf life. To this point, it is only Woolworths in South Africa that have realised this potential. This innovative company have launched their “Farming for the Future” initiative where the majority of their fresh produce is now grown using biological principles and everyone wins!
My Return to Brymac Industries
Recently I revisited Dean and Helen’s enterprise to see if they would be part of a proposed prime time TV special on the benefits of biological food. Dean had recently returned from the National Blueberry Conference where he discovered that he is receiving at least double the premium for his produce in comparison to other growers. People are obviously prepared to pay for quality and Dean struggles to keep up with the demand for his fruit. He is constantly propagating new plants to expand his operation.
Dean combines a full NTS program with a biodynamic approach. He uses NTS Prescription Blends based on soil tests each year. He leaf tests regularly and makes the required corrections with foliar sprays involving chelated minerals including the NTS Shuttle® Range. He stimulates soil life with kelp, fish and humates and he brews up Nutri-Life 4/20™ to boost soil life. He also applies the BD preps on schedule. We have repeatedly seen exceptional results when our biological programs are combined with Biodynamic principles, particularly in viticulture.
Fashion Guru Feasts on Flavour
The demand for Dean’s vastly superior produce is not limited to his local fans. During his recent stay in Noosa, Giorgio Armani tasted some of Dean’s berries in a local restaurant. He was so impressed that he ordered an entire tray of twelve punnets for his own consumption during his stay. There is a worldwide move toward fantastic flavour and it is great that increased shelf life and therapeutic value are so closely linked to taste.