If you operate in the natural food channel, or are simply a foodie interested in how our fare is sourced, you may have heard the term 'biodynamic' bandied around. From fresh produce and packaged goods, to wine and honey, there aren't many things that the biodynamic sphere hasn't touched. So what is it, and what does it mean to purchase and consume biodynamic goods?
What is biodynamic agriculture?
Biodynamic farming is concerned with the health and vitality of soil and plant life, and looks at agricultural practices as a whole, rather than as a disconnected beast. Founded in the 1920s by Rudolph Steiner through his knowledge of anthroposophy, and brought to the United States soon thereafter, biodynamic agriculture embraces an ecological farming system that treats the farm and its related practices as a self-contained, sustainable organism.
Similar to the principles of holistic health, where true health is viewed as the sum of many counterparts, biodynamics treats the health and wellbeing of the farm, farmers, livestock and soil as integral pillars of one practice.
Farmers who embrace a biodynamic stance steer clear of synthetic pesticides and chemicals, and look internally instead at farm-generated solutions to crop fertility and pest control.
In the US, farms can apply to be certified Biodynamic by a non-profit association known as Demeter USA. To qualify, the farm must meet certain national criteria and must undergo an examination and reduction of imported materials required for the ongoing support of the farm.
Why you should support the biodynamic movement
Biodynamics has both the farm and, in turn, the consumer's best interest at heart. When food is grown well in a fully supported and natural ecosystem, crops will produce a higher quality product. The higher the quality and purity of the food we eat, the healthier we are.
Healing the planet through agriculture may be the only way to start to change the way we think about food, farming and our role as consumers. Starting from scratch and being curious about how our food is grown, managed and sourced is one pillar to achieving optimum health, both individually and as a planet.
Look out for the Demeter Biodynamic Certification on some of your favourite food and beverage items.