When the USDA Organic seal was introduced in 2000, it quickly gave consumers a clear way to differentiate pesticide-free fruits and veggies with their sprayed counterparts. Now, the sheer variety of food standards, certifications, and labels can cause even the most educated consumer to do a double take when they’re strolling grocery store aisles.
Today we are taking a deep dive into Biodynamics, a “new” certification making waves in the natural food industry—with the help of Crofter’s. The premium fruit spreads brand is dedicated to educating people on the benefits of buying products that bear this important certification because it means supporting a proven system that has the power to change our relationship with food and farms. We say “new,” because although unknown to the masses, Biodyanmics have existed since the early 1900’s, long before organic and natural foods became a trendy topic.
Breaking Down Biodynamic
Often referred to as “the father of Biodynamics,” philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner developed the Biodynamic farming standards in 1924. He believed everything from the sun to the animals to the soil should work in concert to produce nutrient-dense food. The Biodynamic standard consists of a code that includes elements like biological diversity, soil fertility, waterway conservation, and more—all to help the farm thrive harmoniously.
Crofter’s is one of many sustainable brands that seeks out Biodynamic produce as a way to continually improve its production practices, facilities, and products. “Although Organics are far more comprehensive than conventional farming, Biodynamic really does take it to a whole different level in terms of environmental sustainability and animal welfare,” says Dan Latka, Director of Sales and Marketing. “Everything on a Biodynamic farm serves a greater purpose, and everything is interconnected, relying on one another to accomplish the goal of producing high-quality and earth-friendly foods. This is really what sets it apart from any other farming standard.”
“Everything on a Biodynamic farm serves a greater purpose, and everything is interconnected, relying on one another to accomplish the goal of producing high-quality and earth-friendly foods.”
Ultimately, what sets Biodynamic apart from certifications like Organic, Non-GMO, Fair Trade, Certified Humane, and Regenerative Agriculture, is that all of these designations are accomplished by the Biodynamic standard. “It’s the most comprehensive and complete agricultural standard in existence because it focuses on the farm as a whole, not individual aspects of farming. Of course, all of the mentioned certifications are excellent improvements on conventional practices, but when you tie them all together, that’s where the magic really happens.” Latka says.
Here are three elements that set Biodynamic farms apart from their conventional counterparts.
On a Biodynamic farm, soil fertility can be boosted in a variety of ways, like using green manure, implementing more aggressive crop rotation, and practicing rotational grazing. These methods can help regenerate the land by sequestering carbon from the air and by restoring and maintaining soil fertility. “While there are not many quantitative studies on the nutritional value of Biodynamic foods versus conventionally grown foods, it’s understood that the nutritional value of food is inherently tied to the health of the soil ecosystem in which the crops were grown. Soils rich in nutrients and organic matter produce healthier plants, which in turn produce healthier food.” Latka shares.
But the advantages of Biodynamic practices don’t stop at the farms. Believers of the natural farming method say it produces superior flavors—meaning that consumers also benefit. “Due to the thriving vitality of the ecosystems in which Biodynamic foods are raised, there’s an innate effect on the flavors of Biodynamic produce. Flavors are potent and vibrant, giving consumers the true experience of how food is meant to taste when created as nature intended.”
On a biodynamic farm, animals are part of the team. Instead of being contained on separate feedlots, they’re encouraged to roam and forage, which is more in line with their natural behaviors and allows their manure to be used as fertilizer. Although animals are part of the food chain, on a Biodynamic farm, they live lives of dignity and contribute to land regeneration.
According to Demeter, farms with the Biodynamic seal are required to set aside at least 10 percent of their land base as a biodiversity reserve. This ensures wildlife habitats are preserved and natural ecosystems have the opportunity to thrive. Everything from herbs, flowers, perennial vegetables, native plants, and pollinator hedgerows can contribute to plant diversity. And when it comes to animal species, everyone from cows and chickens to honeybees and earthworms are welcome—animals big and small are needed for a Biodynamic farm to develop into its full potential.
A Biodynamic Future
When Crofter’s launched in 1989, organic certifications and government regulations didn’t exist. But Gerhard and Gabi Latka—the company’s founders—were committed to focusing on sustainable agriculture in North America. “The commitment was made early on to pursue the budding organic movement, and commit the business to producing products that are better for the environment and for consumers’ health. Today, this vision is still alive and strong, with 100 percent of the company’s output being Certified Organic, and our Biodynamic spreads even further supporting sustainable agriculture practices,” Latka notes.
Since launching its first Biodynamic spread five years ago, Crofter’s has seen an uptick in recognition for Biodynamics on all fronts: media stories, retail offerings, and consumer education. “If the next five years continue on this trend, Biodynamics are positioned to become a real game changing certification,” Latka says. “And let's face it, based on where we are today with climate change, we need to make significant changes to how we live. Biodynamics is a proven solution that’s able to both produce the food needed to feed the planet, and also help reverse the effects of climate change.”