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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

The Bionutrient Institute Helps Build a Nutrient-Dense Food Supply

Jun 30, 2023 09:31AM ● By Wendy Nadherny Fachon
As modern agricultural practices have degraded millions of acres of land, concentrations of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables have steadily decreased— the Bionutrient Institute (BI) is working to rectify this trend. While food nutrition has declined, there has been a concurrent increase in physical, psychological and emotional ailments related to nutrient deficiencies. Degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease have risen to epidemic levels. Recognizing that soil health is directly connected to plant, animal, environmental and human health, the BI has become instrumental in building a nutrient-dense food supply.

Founded by Dan Kittredge, the organization seeks to deepen people’s understanding of these connections and to shift the focus of agriculture from an overemphasis on yield and cost toward improving quality and nutrition. Lab scientists assess soil and crop samples for levels of vital elements and compounds to identify the variation that exists within the food supply. This information helps them determine the relative nutrient density of different crops and identify the best practices to produce the highest quality results.

One of the BI’s most notable projects is the development of the Bionutrient Meter, a collaboration between the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) and Our Sci, LLC. The handheld spectrometer utilizes light-emitting diodes that emit light at highly specific wavelengths, which then bounce off objects like carrots or spinach or soil. A light sensor reads how much light bounces back and characterizes the object’s chemical compounds. Wavelength measurements correlate with the amount of different nutrients in food, the levels of organic carbon in soil and chlorophyll content in plants.

The meter will allow people to measure the nutrition density of their food at home. Since 2018, the BI has been gathering thousands of soil, food and crop samples through its Grower Partner and Citizen Science programs and using them to calibrate the latest version of the device. The meter is only one part of an overall strategy that includes an opensource data platform that will support an empowered transformation of food production. BFA memberships for individuals, farmers and businesses, as well as donations, support the research and development work.

Location: 411 Sheldon Rd., Barre, MA. For more information, call 978-355- 1199 or visit or Wendy Nadherny Fachon is host of the Story Walking Radio Hour and produced a one-hour episode about “Soil Science and Bionutrition” with Dan Kittredge. Download the free podcast at