What is biodynamic, and how does it differ from organic?
“Biodynamic is an ecological farming method that looks at the farm as a living organism: self-sustaining, self-contained and following the cycles of nature,” explains Elizabeth Candelario, managing director of Demeter, the global certification program for biodynamic farms and products.
Candelario says the requirements for certified organic agriculture would sit inside the larger circle of biodynamic, as biodynamic builds on the organic standards but has many more requirements around how the farm is managed. For instance, rather than importing outside resources to boost fertility, manage weeds or provide food for livestock, biodynamic emphasizes the importance of generating these inputs from the farm itself as much as possible.
Another difference? At least 10% of the total acreage must be set aside for biodiversity, which improves pollinator health. Biodiversity also preserves the habitats of endangered species and provides a reserve of diverse life forms and wildlife to inoculate and inhabit the farm organism.
But while biodynamic aims to heal the planet through better agriculture, it’s also about growing incredibly tasty, nourishing foods.
“Our health is intimately connected to the health of our farms and our planet,” says Candelario. “The healthier the soil, the healthier the food, the healthier the person, the healthier the planet.” At the end of 2015, there were about 200 biodynamic-certified farms, processors and traders in the US, but that number is growing about 10% a year, according to Candelario.
With biodynamic establishing itself as a small but growing category in the natural-foods market (typically carrying a price point similar to artisan products), here’s how you can look for the certified products at a store or producer near you.
Find biodynamic-certified farms and products in your area.
Check out biodynamicfood.org for a list of biodynamic producers and products available in your area and buy direct, or ask your favorite local store to carry them.
Look for the seal.
Look for the "Demeter Certified Biodynamic" seal on fresh and packaged products. Products must be certified in order to legally use that term.
Build a biodynamic pantry.
Want to try this budding trend? You can find a variety of biodynamic items that fit the Clean Eating framework, including staples like tea, coffee, pasta, rice and pasta sauce.
Here are our top picks:
- The Republic of Tea Biodynamic Turmeric Cinnamon Tea, $13 per tin (36 tea bags), republicoftea.com
- Deep Valley Biodynamic Coffee in Dark Roast, $16 to $17, deepvalley.com
- Yellow Barn Biodynamic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce, $9, yellowbarnfood.com for where to buy
- Lundberg Biodynamic Organic Short Grain Brown Rice , $5 per 16 oz, lundberg.com