Organic or Biodynamic?

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Organic or Biodynamic?

Vineyard and olive grove on the banks of Lake Garda

In a world where we can have any food, whether from a supermarket shelf or at the click of a button, often we do not stop to think what’s behind those items in our shopping baskets. How often do we simply place our groceries in our basket without giving any second thoughts on their origins, farming methods and the impact their production had on our planet and health?

Our shopping habits are often driven by cheap deals and very attractive bargains that we will inevitably regret the moment we eat a tasteless orange or drink a vinegary wine, whilst swearing we will never fall for it again. The answer has been with us for years or even centuries but we may have been too slow to embrace what seems to be a step in the past.

Whilst congratulating ourselves for having mastered farming on a massive scale in order to drive prices down, we missed those cues our ancestors passed down from generation to generation and miserably failed to understand that our planet is a beautifully tuned machine that cannot be violated indefinitely. Those cues are simple - organic and biodynamic.

Many people are familiar with organic food and wine but the same cannot be said about biodynamic products. Organic farming adheres to sustainable agriculture principles where genetically modified products and chemicals are banned at all stages of the production process resulting in healthier and ecologically friendly food. However, few are aware that organic husbandry is actually the result of biodynamic farming methods.

The idea of biodynamic farming was introduced in 1924 by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. His holistic approach sought to devise a more ecological and ethical way of farming that allowed the soil to be more fertile. However, biodynamic is not only about using manure and avoiding chemicals, it’s about taking into consideration the impact farming has on the local environment and local community, it’s about helping the farm to thrive by using natural techniques and by-products and finally, it’s about considering the natural cycles dictated by our planet, the moon and the stars.

As bonkers as it may sound, the moon influences the earth greatly, just look at the tides. Farmers have been checking lunar calendars for decades before sowing a particular crop and winemakers have used lunar calendars for generations to determine when best to bottle wine. All this was going on long before Steiner introduced his theories on biodynamic farming. In fact, since the middle ages, our ancestors have used the ‘rotation’ system on their lands, leaving a particular field uncultivated for a season in order for the soil to regain its essential nutrients vital for the production of good, healthy crops. Steiner may have connected the dots and formulated his theory but our forefathers, who were more attuned to nature, were already practising biodynamic farming all those centuries ago.

It’s a shame that we lost our deep connection with nature, which has brought us on to the verge of grave sustainability problems. We are all aware that food shortages may become a reality in a not very distant future and that our planet is scarred by our greed and selfishness. However, it’s not too late! We simply need to be a little more aware of where our food comes from, how it was grown and what impacts it had on our planet. We just need to take a step back, learn from our ancestors and give organic and biodynamic farming our full support.

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