What is biodynamic?

Biodynamic agriculture and food production is a special type of ecological farming, with extra demands regarding animal welfare, closed nutrient cycles and ecology. Biodynamic farming was first developed in the1920s and stood at the cradle of the organic movement. Biodynamic products can be recognized by the Demeter label.

Label and inspection

Biodynamic products can be recognized by the Demeter label. In the Netherlands, the Demeter Foundation is responsible for the label. In Europe, BD-products are always organic as well and will carry the EU organic label or the EKO label.

Bio-dynamic food

For processed bio-dynamic food, there are additional requirements on top of organic requirements as well. Milk is not allowed to be homogenized and less additives are used (e.g. citric acid and ascorbic acid are not allowed). Demeter products can only be flavoured with real extracts; in standard organic food all "natural aroma's" are allowed, including flavours produced by bacteria and fungi. 

The biodynamic practice

If you visit biodynamic farms ocasionally, you are probably familiar with the special, artisanal atmosphere you'll find there. On top of organic regulations, biodynamic farmers must comply with extra demands. In biodynamic (Demeter) farming there is extra attention for:

  • Local nutrient cycles
  • Mixed farming
  • A complete reproduction cycle of animals and plants
  • Wild bits of nature on-farm
  • Respect voor characteristic properties of plants, animals and people
  • Cosmic and spiritual elements of farming.

In BD-farms cows keep their horns, you'll find both arable and cattle farming, and nature is seen as an important part of the farm. They are usually very diverse and you'll see a lot of birds, insects and flowers. Products often have a stronger regional character. The farm does not just produce, but participates in local society actively. Many BD-farms are active in health care, have direct interactions with consumers or other social functions.

Biodynamic farms are often care farms or have other social functions

History

Bio-dynamic farming was founded in the 1920's, based on the ideas of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who was worried about the rise of industrial agriculture and the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizer. Steiners ideas which were sometimes rather theoretical were developed further and brough into practice by several people, especially Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. In 1925 Pfeiffer emigrated to the Neterlands and became the manager of one of the first biodynamic farms in the world, Loverendale, in the province of Zealand. The farm is operational to this day! Later Pfeiffer left for the USA. In 1938 Pfeiffer published the book 'Bio-dynamic Farming and Gardening', which is still a source of information for farmers worldwide. 

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