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Biodynamic FAQ

By Paige Brady, November 9, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Paige Brady

You may have noticed “Biodynamic®” on fresh and packaged products around our store. While the seeds of Biodynamic farming germinated in the early 1900s, they have begun to flourish more widely in recent years.

Biodynamic is an exciting — and a little bit complicated — way of growing crops. The short version is: Biodynamic = food grown well. Want to know more? Read on.

 Hawthorne Valley Farm, Ghent New York

What is Biodynamic® Agriculture?

It’s an ecological farming system that views the farm as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. The health and well-being of the farm animals, the farmer, the farm and the Earth are all viewed as integral parts that make up the whole.

Biodynamic farmers:

  • Avoid synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers and transgenic contamination
  • Focus on farm-generated, living solutions to pest control and fertility
  • Set aside a minimum of 10% of their total acreage for biodiversity
  • Must meet the National Organic Program standard as a base

Who can be certified Biodynamic?

Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen CAFor a farm or product to legally refer to itself as Biodynamic, it must be certified by Demeter USA, a non-profit formed in 1985 to promote Biodynamic agriculture.

In order to qualify for Demeter Biodynamic status a farm must first meet the National Organic Program as a base. Demeter also requires a careful examination and eventual reduction of the volume of imported materials necessary to sustain the life of the farm.

The Farming and Processing Standards underlying the certification enable Demeter to protect Biodynamic agriculture and in doing so, to pursue its vision of healing the planet through agriculture.

Demeter USA is a member of Demeter International, the oldest ecological certification organization, operating in 45 countries around the world.

What are Biodynamic Practices?

Love Apple Farm  Santa Cruz, CAHere’s how Demeter explains them:

In practice, Biodynamic farming meets the organic standard including the prohibition of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but then it goes much further. Emphasis is on the generation of farm inputs out of the living dynamics of the farm itself, rather than being imported from the outside.  Dependence on imported materials for fertility and pest control is reduced.  Water conservation is considered.  Farms are required to maintain at least 10% of total acreage as a biodiversity set-aside.  Riparian zones, wetlands, grasslands, and forests: all are considered an integral part of the life of the farm.  Specially prepared medicinal plants, minerals, and composted animal manures help increase the vitality of the plants grown and further anchor each individual farm in time and place.

This requires that, as much as possible, a farm be regenerative rather than degenerative.  Consider carefully materials that are imported onto the modern day organic farm.  Where do they come from?  Often they can be tracked back to a natural resource provided by the earth. Examples include petroleum to move materials around, ancient mineral deposits, by-products of unsustainable agriculture-related industry, and the life of the seas and waterways.  An important social value of Biodynamic farming is that it does not depend on the mining of the earth’s natural resource base but instead emphasizes contributing to it.

What’s the Whole Foods Market connection?

Elizabeth Candelario with Demeter USA explains it like this: "Whole Foods' nationwide commitment to the development and distribution of Biodynamic products has given leading organic food companies the confidence and support they need to bring Biodynamic products to store shelves. This, in turn, provides encouragement to farmers to transition their farms to this highest form of sustainable farming. And Biodynamic products deliver on the integrity of their agricultural ingredients, providing deeply nutritious and delicious food. Healthy farms, healthy products, healthy people, healthy planet.  Thanks, Whole Foods!"

For Whole Foods Market’s Grocery Coordinator Errol Schweizer, this is kind of a no brainer. He explains, “Pushing the Biodynamic segment is the logical next step in sustainability and soil fertility. Now that we have made Organics and Non-GMO household names, we are creating a niche for biodynamic products grown through the most ecologically sound methods.”

Looking for more information about Biodynamic? Visit the source at http://www.demeter-usa.org/

 

1 Comment

Comments

Nancy Payne says ...
Bravo Whole Foods for once again standing up to do what is right for humanity! You dare go where others should: no plastic bags, no GMO, organic, and now biodynamic. It is no wonder I can not shop anywhere else.
11/09/2013 8:16:17 AM CST