Numerous industries currently have quality metrics and standards for production that are fairly sophisticated. Agriculture seems to be one field where the idea that disparities exist has not yet been realized. Perhaps this is due to the fact that living systems that produce crops are inherently multifactor in nature and can not readily be systematized. Regardless of the causes for limited attention to this component there does exist a dramatic disparity in quality in the food supply, and this is one key component that the BFA is focused on addressing systemically.
What is quality?
The first component of a discussion of food quality must a definition of terms. What is quality? At the BFA our definition of quality is not specific, but relative. There is not a targeted level of copper we would like to see in carrots, or vitamin C in oranges. To the best of our understanding what quality consists of in foodstuffs is the relative levels and ratios of minerals and high order compounds that nutritionists have identified as vitalizing compounds for us.
Humans are not designed to ingest pure copper, or iron for instance, but a processed product that contains the label “iron fortified” could easily contain iron filings. Iron filings are not biologically available, and will simply go in one end and out the other. Quality consists of high levels of organic compounds that have at their core these critical minerals, and there do seem to be general levels and ratios of these minerals present in high quality crops that can be discerned with modern technology.
Please review our research page for more detailed information, but the objective of the BFA as far as quality is concerned is to properly sample crops that are available today and determine what the underlying characteristics are of high quality and low quality crops from a metrics standpoint and devise the tools necessary to give anyone who wants to the ability to test crops in real time.
Current certification systems focus on process attributes and do not focus on the result as the objective, and for that reason we feel that it is necessary to redefine the metrics in order to shift incentives across the food supply.