Friday, February 23, 2018

Why BIODYNAMIC is better than organic

From a farming perspective, there are HUGE differences between ORGANIC and BIODYNAMIC, too many for me to describe in one post.  For details, please see this page, and the links provided at the end.

From a consumer's perspective, biodynamic is organic on steroids.

In general, Biodynamic Agriculture does not allow importation - everything the farm needs must be produced by the farm itself.  In other words, biodynamic farmers DO NOT USE imported chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, dessicants or GMO seeds.

Organic agriculture standards are determined by the government's NOSB (National Organic Standards Board), and the standards are continually being eroded by agribusinesses that want a piece of the organic monetary pie but don't want to provide an organic product in return.  There are over 100 chemicals - many of them dangerous - which are approved for organic farming.  Originally, these were meant to be reviewed periodically, and eliminated if natural alternatives became available, but the standards board has removed the 'sunset' provision and they are now here to stay forever.

Organic products are also not 100% organic!  According to Organic Consumers Organization:
  1. Foods that are 100% organic can be labeled “100% organic" and bear the “USDA organic" seal. (Excluding salt and water, which are considered natural, although both can be contaminated.  See my note below on water.)
  2. Foods that are 95% organic can be labeled “organic" if the remaining 5% of ingredients cannot be found in an organic form. They too can bear the “USDA Organic" seal.
  3. Foods that are 70% organic can include the phrase “made with organic" to describe those organic ingredients.
  4. Foods containing less than 70% organic ingredients can have the word “organic" only in their lists of ingredients.

Sooooo, foods with "organic" on the label can contain up to 30% non-organic ingredients!  For instance, organic sausages are rarely made with organic casings.    

If that weren't bad enough...the biggest drawback, for me, is that organic produce CAN BE GROWN USING CONVENTIONAL COMPOST, which is laced with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and pathogens like e-coli.  Here's a quote from EORGANIC.ORG.: "Use of manure imported from conventional farming operations is allowed by National Organic Program (NOP) standards."  

There is not enough organic compost to supply all organic farms.  If the NOSB did its job properly, it would require organic farms to use organic compost, which would encourage additional production, but they don't.  They want as many farms to be certified as possible, and they don't care whether the product they provide is truly 'organic' or not.  If you do not know your farmer, or he cannot guarantee that his compost is organic, you are eating all the "shit" that is in conventional manure.  Do you really want to eat vegetables grown in manure from CAFO operations???

Don't get me wrong - organic is still MILES better than conventional which allows thousands of chemicals to be used - but there is a better option: BIODYNAMIC.

  • Biodynamic agriculture uses NO GMOs and NO CHEMICALS!

  • Biodynamic agriculture must use clean water (organic certification does not test the water).

  • Biodynamic agriculture cannot be subverted by agribusiness.
  • Animals on biodynamic farms must be able to express all aspects of their innate behavior with minimum stress.  They're all 'pasture raised'
  • Caution: if a biodynamic farm does not have animals, they will have to import their compost.  Demeter Certification allows this, but states the following:
    Manure sources should come from certified organic livestock production at a minimum.  If this is not possible and conventional livestock manure is used, the materials used in the conventional livestock production (i.e. wormers, hormones, GMO feed, antibiotics, persistent pesticides) must be documented. Product testing may be required to show that the finished product is not contaminated with materials suspected to be in the ingredient source.  No manure that is derived from “intensive” confinement operations (animals not having regular, reliable and effective access to the outdoors) will be allowed. 

In addition to all of the things mentioned above, biodynamic farming improves the soil.  The longer biodynamic methods are used, the more productive the land becomes.  

Conversely, the longer one farms conventionally, the more the soil is depleted until nothing will grow in it. 

True organic agriculture (not the sham organic produced by agribusinesses) lies in between these two extremes. It doesn't work to improve the soil the way biodynamic agriculture does, but it does attempt to prevent the destruction of the soil. 

(Products labeled TruGanic strive to "Maintain and Surpass True, Actual, Hard-Core Organic Standards.)

Organic farming actually had its roots in Biodynamics 
but diverged from those roots when the demand for organic products exploded.
We MUST return to those roots!
(see this excellent article by Jim Fullmer for details)

Fortunately, for us, there are several biodynamic farms in this area and we support them all. 
I buy other biodynamic products online

If you'd like to find a Biodynamic CSA near you, 
The Biodynamic Association should be able to help you.

You can learn more about Biodynamic certification here: DEMETER Association, Inc.  
(Demeter - pronounced DEM'-eh-ter - is the certifying body.)

PLEASE!  Support biodynamic agriculture (by purchasing biodynamic products)!
Look for the Demeter seal:

For more information, contact DEMETER Association, Inc
(Demeter's vision is Curbing Climate Change through Biodynamic Agriculture)

HERE is a list of biodynamic products for sale in the USA. 

Small farms that cannot afford certification but do farm biodynamically will often reference Rudolph Steiner on their websites and other promotional material.  Steiner's name is another way to find biodynamic products when you're shopping.  I will periodically do a Google search on 'biodynamic' or 'Steiner' to see if any new sources have emerged.

The three biodynamic CSAs in our area are not certified.   
If you know your farmer, certification is not necessary.   

NOTE: Unfortunately, if biodynamically raised meat is processed by a conventional butcher and made into sausage it, too, will not be in a biodynamic or organic casing for the same reason organic sausages aren't: most butchers aren't able to process intestines and those that are, aren't willing to process organic/biodynamic ones. 

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