Picture a family farm. You probably see sunshine, green pastures, happy and free-grazing cows, bright red tomatoes, and a cheery old farmer who works day and night to tend to the place. What you probably aren't picturing: the cheery old farmer spraying crops down with pesticides and tilling soil with artificial fertilizers and chemicals, or sprinkling antibiotics into his cows' feed before squishing them into a too-small stall.
The sad truth is that when the world became industrialized, our food system became industrialized too. This might sound like a good thing. (Hey, it means we can get avocados year-round, whatever specific apple hybrid we want, and enough beef to satisfy our burger cravings, right?) But nowadays, most farms look more like factories than like sources of freshly grown nutrition.
And that's where biodynamic farming comes in—it's taking food production back to the roots.
What Is Biodynamic Farming?
Biodynamic farming is a way of viewing a farm as "a living organism, self-contained, self-sustaining, and following the cycles of nature," says Elizabeth Candelario, managing director at Demeter, the world's only certifier of biodynamic farms and products. Think of it as organic—but better.
This all might sound super hippy dippy, but it's really just taking farming back to its basics: no fancy antibiotics, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers. "Pest control, disease control, weed control, fertility—all of these things are addressed through the farming system itself instead of importing the solutions from the outside," says Candelario. For example, instead of using an artificial nitrogen fertilizer, farmers will alternate crop cycles, incorporate the use of animal manure, or plant certain fertilizing plants to maintain the richness of the soil. It's like Little House on the Prairie but in modern times.
In biodynamic farms, farmers strive to maintain a diversified, balanced ecosystem with ecological, social, and economic sustainability. Theoretically, a perfect biodynamic farm could exist inside its own little bubble.