Perhaps more than any other realm of economic activity, agriculture has grown (literally and spiritually) away from its humble beginnings. Many people feel our planet is in dire straits and it will be difficult to feed our ever-growing population.
At the same time some have a newfound consciousness and concern about how their food is grown and are seeking a stronger tie to nature. Many people want organic produce and corporate America has begun to capitalize on this desire.
Within the organic category lies ‘biodynamic,’ a term that has recently come into vogue. The biodynamic label can be found on many items, ranging from fruits and vegetables to wines, coffees, teas, and even cosmetics and personal care products. Companies selling biodynamic products in the U.S. must be certified by Demeter USA, part of Demeter International, the largest certification organization of biodynamic agriculture.
These products are often considered superior to organic, especially in the wine industry where the biodynamic label is touted as a status symbol and justification for higher prices. What exactly is biodynamic farming and how does it differ from conventional and organic methods?
‘Biodynamic’ originates from two Greek words, bios meaning life, and dynamos meaning energy. The biodynamic (BD) theory of farming was pioneered by Austrian social scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner in Europe in the1920s. He sharply challenged the modernist premise of the farm as a factory and the belief that crops could be grown as reliably and efficiently as manufactured goods. He alleged that in order to produce healthy sustainable food, the farm and the farmer needed to have a unified relationship with nature. He also emphasized a belief in the influence of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.