Everywhere you turn, you read seemingly healthy claims on foods, ranging from all-natural to organic and biodynamic. But what, exactly, do these terms mean?
While the term “natural” or “all-natural” implies that the food or product has had little to no processing, there is no legal definition for either of these terms in the United States. In fact, most would agree that placing these terms on packaging is a marketing ploy more than claim of pure ingredients.
To bear the “organic” label, a food must be grown, stored, and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals. Plus, organic farmers have to adhere to a strict set of standards and must undergo regular inspections to ensure that they meet these standards—including no hormone use in animals, and no genetically engineered seed or stock. So, you can rest assured that foods labeled “biodynamic” or “certified organic” are free of any and all genetically modified ingredients.
Finally, “biodynamic” foods are farmed according to even stricter standards than organic farming and pre-date the organic movement by 20 years. Developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in 1924, biodynamics is a method of agriculture that seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. Biodynamic methods recognize the development of a farm as a balanced and sustainable unit. In addition to common organic practices such as crop rotation, recycling through composts and liquid manures, and increasing plant and animal bio-processes in the soil, biodynamics also includes homeopathic-like preparations to heal the soil and guarantee that such healthy soil will provide the best quality of nutrients.
Additionally, biodynamics relies on the rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets, and stars to determine the best times to plant, cultivate, and harvest. It is the combination of organic farming practices, along with the homeopathic remedies and planetary influences that define the essence of biodynamics.