Product Spotlight: Simply Natural’s 14 Brix Melons
What Does It Mean to Care about a Product?
In Panama, Simply Natural Farms shows what caring about your food really means. They cultivate a special kind of fruit delicacy, known as “14 Brix Melons.”
“Brix,” usually written “ºBx,” is the unit used to measure the ratio of sugars to water in a liquid. Every fruit has a different peak Brix level, which in turn determines the quality and sweetness of its flavor.
For example, the average Brix of cantaloupe melon is 10. Although, according to our tour guide on the farm, it’s not rare for supermarkets to sell melons measuring at tasteless, watery fours, fives, or sixes. Most of us can probably attest to that fact, having stumbled upon many an underwhelmingly bland melon in the past.
At 12 ºBx, a cantaloupe melon is considered very good, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to a 14 ºBx cantaloupe melon. With its extremely tender flesh and signature orange color, these melons are bursting at the seams with sweetness.
With every sweet bite, the melons at Simply Natural Farms reveal the passion, work, and attention to detail that goes into growing them.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise, once you know more about their production. Simply Natural Farms has lovingly mastered the art of melon harvesting in a state-of-the-art, seven-plus hectare greenhouse that is nothing short of breathtaking.
They have perfected the system in a 16-week cycle from seed to harvest. An additional one-to-two week mulching process repurposes whatever is left for use in the following cycle. The melon vines are set to climb up lines, keeping the fruit off the floor where pests can get to them. When the flowers start coming in they are manually pollinated. The farmers do this by finding the lowest-hanging, fertile female flowers and using their fingers to spread the male’s pollen on them.
Each vine will produce one or two melons, depending on the size desired by the market. That’s it. They don’t crowd their vines, allowing nutrients to concentrate in just one or two fruits—keeping the fruit as sweet as it can be.
SupPlant AI technology and the farm’s slow-drip system irrigate the entire greenhouse, with the use of cocopeat as a medium. Once a melon grows large enough, it is covered and carefully held to the line, ensuring its safety until it fully ripens and is ready for harvest.
This is what passion looks like on a large scale, but you don’t get to this level of quality without support.
The day our team visited the greenhouse we met two of the farmers working in the cycle, Gloria Chacón and Katie Castillo. We saw them meticulously go through the pollination process, highlighting the importance of “caring for the caretakers” who put so much heart and work into the process.
Farmers are the foundation of human society, and they matter. Yet they earn just eight cents to every dollar spent on food, and in most cases these numbers are not improving.
This story illustrates the level of quality you can only get when people are allowed to care. To keep up with the market and make ends meet, farmers from all over the world are forced to worry first about survival—hoping to make a living and support their families. Often they resort to quick fixes and toxic methods to compete, with no time or opportunity to focus on growing the best, healthiest food they can. This is our loss.
No one wants to be an underappreciated, underpaid farmer, tasked with feeding a region, a country, and ultimately a world disconnected from the reality of their food systems. Food—healthy, nutritious food—doesn’t just neatly puff into existence inside of a supermarket. Certainly not 14 ºBx melons.
Farmers are the future, in a very basic sense. This is a truth Simply Natural Farms cares about communicating to the world. That is why they are eager to introduce as many people as possible to farming, getting everyone invested, and involved.
To make the best, healthiest fruit possible—and to feed the world with it—it is imperative to care about the providers. In other words, there is no caring about the world without caring about farmers.
Want to know more about this project and their products? Follow this link.