Decide which fruit and veggies to demo by putting their juice to the test. Refractometers can gauge your produce’s sweetness by determining its BRIX reading, or level of natural sugars. After juice is placed on the refractometer’s plate, the device reacts differently to light depending on the level of solids in the sample. A high BRIX reading may also indicate high nutrition levels since just like sugars, trace minerals are also solids, says Bob Wilt, a farmer in Corvallis, Ore., who grows nutrient-dense blueberries. Available as a pocket-sized handheld device from laboratory supply companies, the refractometers retail anywhere from $60 to $400, but may be well worth the price for your store.
As you receive produce, if a shipment reads high on your refractometer, drop the price and put it at the front of your store to offer your customers a positive taste experience. “Some carrots are bitter and taste like soap, and some carrots are sweet, which shows high nutrient levels. Our tongues are our built-in sensors for nutrient levels, and that’s what consumers really want in their food,” says Dan Kittredge, who runs the The Real Food Campaign (a project of the non-profit Remineralize the Earth), which aims to increase consumer and farmer awareness of nutrient-dense foods. You can make purchase decisions based on BRIX readings, or ask suppliers for BRIX levels and encourage them to provide high-BRIX crops. These simple steps will help customers connect your store with high-quality produce and come back for more.