How Biodynamic Food Is Taking Over America, One Farm at a Time
In this day and age, there are new trends and new ideas popping up in order to live healthier and better lives. Many people are more open-minded and want to explore different ways and means in ensuring that they are eating better, that they are helping the environment, that they think about their overall well-being, etc. One of the new things people are talking about is biodynamic food.
Now I know most of you haven’t heard about this. Biodynamic food? What is that exactly? I know it sounds something genetically engineered, but it’s really not. It’s part of the organic and holistic movement that’s slowly gaining ground all over the country.
The Deal on Biodynamic Food
To explain biodynamic food, we have to first discuss what biodynamic farming or culture is. Basically, it refers to specific crop-growing methods. It is a form of alternative agriculture similar to organic farming. However, it includes various esoteric concepts. It handles soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated functions. It also puts emphasis on the spiritual and mystical perspectives.
This type of farming makes sure to use manures and composts and excludes the use of any type of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. What makes this approach unique is its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system. It also employs varied herbal and mineral additives for compost additives and field sprays. It also makes use of the astrological sowing and planting calendar.
The Biodynamic Association describes it as “a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.”
Countries around the world are slowly turning to this new farming approach. The most noted country is Germany, which accounts for 45 percent of the global total.
In a nutshell, biodynamics focuses on keeping everything generated within the farm to create their own exclusive ecosystem. For example, their own animals for manure, their own medicinal plants for pest control, etc.
History of Biodynamics
Biodynamics is the first modern organic agriculture. This approach was developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, who was an occultist philosopher. He believed that western civilization will eventually bring destruction to itself and the earth. Steiner believed humanity had to develop an unbiased understanding of the spiritual realm and its relationship with the physical world.
He was the first to point out the possible dangers of synthetic fertilizers. His approach to soil, plant, animal, and human health that recognizes the healthy interaction of cosmic and earthly factors. And finally, Steiner believed that a farm is a single self-sustaining organism that thrives through biodiversity. Also important is the incorporation of crops and livestock and the creation of a closed-loop system of fertility.
This practice then spread to the United States in 1938. During that year, the Biodynamic Association started as the oldest sustainable agriculture nonprofit organization in North America.
Some of the first followers of the biodynamic approach were vineyards as they noticed that some of the best wines in the world were coming from biodynamic vineyards in Italy and France.
Eventually, more and more farmers started catching on. Today, we see it as an emerging trend in the natural food industry.
Biodynamic Food and Organic Food: Is There a Difference?
Yes, there is, actually. Though the similarities far outweigh the differences, there are still disparities to take note of.
For one, in organic farming, an entire farm doesn’t need to be organic for it to produce and sell certified organic products. For example, a certain farm could maybe use a small plot of land for exclusively organic farming. However, in biodynamic farming, the entire farm must be involved in the whole biodynamic movement in order to produce biodynamic food.
Biodynamic farming actually goes one step further than organic farming. Its farming methods enliven the soil through human attentiveness and careful observation of nature’s rhythms. This process uses different principles that add vitality to the plants, soil, and livestock. They also use specific concoctions from herbs and minerals. These preparations are then used to enhance the compost applied to the fields. It also intensifies the sunlight absorbed by the plant.
With regard to pest and disease control, biodynamic farmers usually use specially formulated products, which are made from the weeds and pests themselves. They consider weeds and pests as useful indicators of imbalances in the soil, plants, and animals. The aim of biodynamics is to use these indicators in a positive way.
Biodynamic farming also incorporates astrological influences. Steiner was a great believer that the moon affects the growing phases of planting as well as harvesting. In fact, there are stellar calendars that chart the influences of the moon and other planets for farmers to follow.
Another difference to take note of is that organic farming has just one processing standard for all its products. For biodynamic food, it has 16 different processing standards for different types of products. There’s a different one for wine, meat, dairy, produce, etc.
So Why Buy Biodynamic Food?
According to Elizabeth Candelario, managing director at Demeter (the world’s only certifier of biodynamic farms and products), “Food is medicine. The number one place we have to start [in order to live healthier] is our diet. Food products are only as good as the farming that stands behind them.”
Biodynamic food is definitely so much better for you. It undergoes a very high quality of production. They have more flavor, they have more nutrients, and they don’t use harsh chemicals or synthetic fertilizers. Obviously, soil that’s more nutrient-dense produces food that retains its full nutrient content. So you know that whatever it is you’re eating, it’s real and fresh and natural.
Help to Farmers
Another thing to make you go biodynamic is the thought that you will be helping out actual farmers. These are people who are genuinely interested in making sure you get the freshest, healthiest products through the most natural and healthiest ways possible. You will be supporting these farmers who invested much of their time, effort, and yes, money in a way that is beneficial for everyone—from the farmer, to his family, to the farm workers, to you, to your kids, etc.
Save the World
The third reason is that biodynamic farming may be a potential solution to global warming. Yup, scientists are pointing to it as a possible savior for our planet.
Did you know that regular agricultural practices produce high emissions, and that plowing fields release carbon dioxide in the soil and air?
Well, in biodynamic farming, they practice cover farming, which reduces their carbon footprint. What cover farming does is the crops blanket the soil between harvest seasons. These cover crops convert nitrogen gas in the atmosphere into soil nitrogen that plants can use.