A Holistic, Ecological and Ethical Approach to Our Food
By: Clara Perez
With a triple bottom-line methodology, rooted in anthroposophy, biodynamic farming practices show great promise for the future of food consumption everywhere.
Biodynamic agriculture has been observed on every continent for over a century yet, many of us are still unaware of what it is and how it works.
The origin of biodynamic agriculture is based on anthroposophical ideals which state that the ecology of the farm-to-organism experience relates to the cosmos.
It plays on the ideas that the subtle forces of nature are what should dictate farming practices and utilizing these forces are the most beneficial for the animals and humans involved.
Biodynamic farmers aim to foster a highly functioning, diverse and stable farm ecosystem that is self-sustaining.
This means that the health and fertility of the farm comes from within by use of fermented manure, minerals and herbs that help to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the products of the farm.
Each farm acts as a whole living organism that comprises many independent elements like fields, plants, animals, compost and people.
Farmers try to harmonize these elements in a holistic way in order to support health and vitality.
Biodynamic agriculture uses a few approaches in order to keep this harmony among the dynamic and moving pieces of each farm.
Biodiversity that mimics natural conditions helps to improve the health and resilience of each farm.
By use of native annual and perennials species of plants that grow flowers, berries, fruits, nuts and grains and by the slow and deliberate introduction of one or two new species of livestock as the farm matures, biodynamic farmers do not overwhelm the system.
Another method used to ensure health and resilience is fertility that is generated by the farm itself.
By getting rid of all chemical fertilizers and hydroponic growing and employing natural approaches such as cover cropping and composting, this eliminates the need to import organic fertilizers, making the farm a self-sustained system.
Biodynamics also takes a holistic and natural outlook when it comes to pests and disease among their livestock.
Balancing the nutrition and support of a healthy immune system, while also facilitating a robust environment that allows for natural predation of pests, is the goal of every farmer.
In the case of disease outbreak, farmers can incorporate more commonly used biological controls but the goals are always to uncover the imbalance in the farm ecosystem that lead to the outbreak and remedy it to prevent further damage.
Most biodynamic enterprises sought to embody a triple bottom-line structure that focuses on ecological, social and economic sustainability.
Biodynamics supports the idea of community supported agriculture (CSA) in which they sustain creative and lively partnerships with local schools, medical facilities wellness centers, hotels and restaurants.
Through CSA and the regenerative properties of biodynamics, a new and growing movement about holistic and natural technique to food production and consumption has been created.
The Biodynamic Association (BA) supports a co-creative relationship between humans and our earth that transforms the culture of agriculture.
The BA is a non-profit organization of over 1,000 farmers, gardeners, entrepreneurs and eaters around North America whose goals are all the aligned.
The adaptability that biodynamics offer by looking into the forces of nature first when planning and implementing a farm ecosystem means that these practices can exist anywhere on Earth.
By renewing the natural vitality of the ecosystem, the integrity of our food sources and the health of whole communities, biodynamics and its regenerative properties can really be the future of food production and consumption on a global scale.