On my weekly trips to the grocery store I transform into an avid food inspector for a short period of time: I look for different certifications, growing practices, and any other pertinent information about my food. I am on a constant quest for food that is not only nourishing for my body but also for the earth. Until recently, I thought that organic farming practices was the be-all and end-all answer to this quest; on a recent enlightening (and very rainy) trip to the Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market in downtown Berkeley, I was informed that this is not the case. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about biodynamic farming – a practice that actually surpasses organic farming in sustainability and environmental awareness.
I was first introduced to biodynamic farming at this farmers market through a vendor from Flying Disc Ranch, a date and citrus farm located in Thermal, California. I inquired about their practices and was surprised when the usual response of “certified organic” didn’t come, instead his reply was, “We are a biodynamic farm.” Biodynamic? This sounded intriguing and innovative, I was immediately captivated and rightfully so.
Biodynamic farming is a unique practice that takes organic farming a step further by not only excluding the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use, but also by looking at the farm as a whole, self-sustaining entity with many symbiotic relationships. It essentially views the farm as a living organism. It takes into consideration all the different interdependent factors in the farm such as soils, crops, animals, and even farmers. It then utilizes these ecological relationships to create a harmonious farming technique that is highly productive, while maintaining the integrity of the land. In fact, one of its main goals is to foster the wellbeing of all aspects of the farm by embracing biodiversity, permaculture values, and homeopathic remedies.
Yet another unique component of biodynamic farming is their awareness of the lunar effects on plants, animals, and soils. According to biodynamics.com, practitioners of biodynamic farming “recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.” They typically farm by a lunar calendar and pay close attention to the cosmological influences and natural cycles of their farm.
Biodynamic farming is the culmination of ecologically conscious food practices. It takes into account all of the important elements of a farm to make it the most sustainable and harmonious process. Although biodynamic farming is not a mainstream practice just yet it is gaining popularity and will hopefully be the norm in future farms.
This post is from one of the interns in the Real Time Farms Food Warrior Internship Program. These interns are collecting data, pictures, and video on the growing practices of our nation’s farms, gathering food artisans’ stories, and documenting farmers markets. We all deserve to know where our food comes from! Boring legalese we feel we must include: this was written by a real live person who has their own opinions, which we value, but that do not necessary reflect, though they may (or may not), reflect the values and opinions of Real Time Farms. That is for you to guess and us to know.
Carlo Petrini has a great quote that is something like “all gastronomes must become ecologists and ecologists must become gastronomes”. If that happened then the biodynamic would become a way of life.
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