Farmscape is seeking two part-time sales representatives to offer its installation and maintenance of vegetable gardens to interested residents, schools, restaurants and other institutions, one in the South Bay and one in the Claremont area.
Enter Brix testing. Brix is a measure of the sugar content of a liquid. Using a brix refractometer, you can measure what percent of a fruit’s juices are made up of sugar. Using brix testing to measure taste is common in agriculture--it is often used by commercial winegrowers to measure the quantity of sugars in their grapes, and can be used to diagnose nutrient deficiencies.
Sugar content is obviously not the only factor in determining how a tomato tastes; I myself prefer tomatoes with a bit of tartness. Still, because there is no way to objectively measure deliciousness, brix is the best tool we have to measure tomato quality and render a pseudo-objective judgment. As it turns out, you can learn a lot from brix. Food blogger Jon Rowley has brix tested tomatoes for years, and says that brix is a pretty good proxy for taste. According to Rowley, tomatoes with a score of 4.0 - 5.0 tend to have “undistinguished taste,” while a brandywine that scored 14.0 was “unbelievable...A flavor to make an Italian grandmother weep with joy.” Last year, Rowley hosted hosted a “10.0 Brix Tomato Challenge” in which he challenged farmers at his local market to grow a tomato that scored 10.0 or above.
While Rowley’s challenge is already over and wasn’t exactly directed at Farmscape, we decided to take it up anyway. We purchased this brix refractometer and we assembled a hodgepodge of tomatoes from different sources, and tested them over the course of a couple of weeks.
Meet our test subjects!
Just six months ago, Farmscape's yield tracker crossed 10,000 pounds of food. Later this week, that tally will have doubled since January, a testament to the growing number of people in Los Angeles who are excited to have access to the most flavorful and sustainably grown produce around. We owe a sincere thanks to our members, whose feedback drives us to innovate and whose kind words have gotten their friends and families excited about replacing their landscape with a Farmscape.
discussed some of the ways in which purchasing organic food doesn't always guarantee sustainable production or that it will be a healthy meal.Last December, I
Last week, a more extreme version of this line of thinking appeared in Scientific American. Its author, Christie Wilcox, argued that the organic industry was disseminating "propaganda" regarding production techniques, and she was out to set the record straight. Her claims were that: 1) organic farms use pesticides, 2) organic foods are not healthier, 3) GMOs are vital to environmentally friendly production and are necessary to feed a growing global population, and 4) organic production should not be an all-or-nothing question.
Despite an early disclaimer in the piece that she is "not saying organic farming is bad,"she touched off a pretty lively debate. Among those responding to the piece was Matthew Yglesias, who suggested that greater USDA oversight of organic pesticide use would be prudent. Other responses were not so kind - bloggers Tom Laskawy and Tom Philpott took issue with her presentation of the academic literature and were particularly bothered by her claims regarding the nutritional value of organic produce and the promise of GMOs.
1. The Sprawl: The city of Los Angeles is about 8.5 times less dense than Manhattan and half as dense as San Francisco. The trip from the metro area’s western border in Ventura to its eastern border in Redlands is 128 miles. While the region’s sprawl offends my environmental and urban planning sensibilities, it affords Angelenos the opportunity to grow their own food while living in a major American city. I love San Francisco for its walkability, but try growing food in the city’s puny front yards.