Is Your Food Biodynamic? Feed the Mind

Demeter Biodynamic Certification LogoLong before the USDA founded the National Organic Program, there was Demeter, a non-profit organization dedicated to Biodynamic farming.

Background

In 1924, Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner gave a series of lectures to European farmers.  Industrialization had transformed farming around the world, introducing new practices like the use of chemical pesticides, antibiotics, and synthetic fertilizers.  Farmers grew increasingly concerned with their declining crop vitality, seed virility, and animal health and looked to Steiner’s agricultural course for guidance.

Steiner’s conclusion:  we should think of farms as living organisms–self contained, self-sustaining, in sync with nature’s cycles, and solely responsible for creating and maintaining their own health and vitality.  He believed the more industrialized model of farming was unsustainable because its methods were destructive to the environment. By focusing on self-sustainbility, Biodynamic farms would reduce dependence on mining of the earth’s natural resources.

What is a biodynamic farm?

A biodynamic certified farm:

  • prohibits synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics
  • sets aside at least 10% of its total acreage for biodiversity
  • minimizes dependence on imported materials for farm fertility and pest control
  • maximizes biodiversity and sustainability, so the waste of one part of the farm  becomes energy for another
  • maximizes water conservation
  • provides housing that allows animals to move freely, have access to the outdoors, and protects them from heat, dust, excess humidity, and harmful gasses
  • prohibits poultry cages, de-horning, de-beaking, wing and tail clipping
  • uses homeopathic remedies for animal care (in place of vaccines)
  • at least 50% of all animal feed must come from the farm itself, and the remainder must be Demeter certified (at least 80%) or NOP certified organic (maximum of 20%)

When you purchase biodynamic food, it comes from a certified farm and is processed according to the Demeter Processing Standard–meaning it is grown and processed in a manner that maintains purity and integrity.

Biodynamic vs. Organic Farming

Both Biodynamic and organic farming prohibit use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and promote animal welfare.  Biodynamic certified farms must meet all requirements of the National Organic Program standard, but additionally maximize self-sustainability by limiting dependence on imported materials. Biodynamic farms must function in a manner that minimizes any negative impact on the planet.

Biodynamic farms are in 45 countries around the world, so look for the Demeter symbol next time you’re in the market and you’ll be eating in a healthy and socially-minded way!

Source
Demeter Association, Inc. 2013. http://www.demeter-usa.org/about-demeter/demeter-history.asp.
“What is Biodynamics?” Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association.  2013. https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html.