What is Biodynamics?
What is Biodynamic agriculture?
In seeking an answer, let us pose the further question:
Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earth's vitality gone too far for this?
No matter where our land is located, if we are observant we will see sure signs of illness in trees, in our cultivated plants, in the water, even in the weather. Organic agriculture rightly wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises:
What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now?
- Nutritional Principles
Nutrition affects the entire human being, that is to say, the body, but also his vitality and psycho-spiritual state of mind. For this reason, Rudolf Steiner began to give indications already in his earliest lectures 100 years ago on an appropriate nutrition, not just for an esotericist, but for all human beings. With the advent of biodynamic agriculture, this consciousness was extended to include not just the selection of foodstuffs like grains or potatoes, but also to the standard of their cultivation. Consequently, it is an agricultural method that is not just a service to the earth itself, but the products it produces provide healthy nutritional sustenance for people.
Dietary practices based on anthroposophical principles differ from other “alternative” diets, like the German Dr Werner Kolliath’s whole foods diet (Vollwerternahrung) or the Hay Diet, in a number of ways. It expands the underlying knowledge of natural science in the sphere of nutrition with a wholistic view of the human being as an animated physical and soul-spiritual being. Consequently, a person does not simply require food products to feed himself, but needs also to take in life energies for his vitality and psychological and spiritual activities through what he eats. There are therefore no fixed prescriptions for the use of specific foods. Every person must decide for him or herself. Diet is determined locally by the particular culture and agriculture of a region. One does not eat the same way in Asia as one does in America, and there are marked differences in how Southern and Northern Europeans eat. The Rye bread popular in Central and Eastern Europe is quite unusual in the Southern European countries and certainly in the tropics, and hence probably also of little value. In America a lot of Maize is consumed, in Europe not very often.
Millet, a common traditional grain in Africa, is relatively unknown in Asia. We must therefore conclude that nutrition is not something uniform, but has to adapt to individual needs, to the prevailing culture of the people, and to the climate. Anthroposophical nutritional guidelines leave much room for individual choice and take into account the local and cultural conditions.
- The Quality of Foodstuffs
Standards determining the quality of nutrition in its anthroposophical sense are significantly broader and more stringent than those conventionally accepted as scientific today. Not only the ingredients of a specific food are regarded as critical, but also the natural human influences which have determined its cultivation and processing. These are mainly the life energies of plant and animal and the conditions found along the various stages of preparation for sale to the consumer.
The quality of foodstuffs
- Biological Quality (Type of plant or animal)
- Quality of Cultivation (Agricultural influences)
- Quality of Processing
- Quality of cooking or preparation
This expanded view of standards leads one to a different judgment and understanding of the suitability and effect of our foods. It is this that determines, amongst other things, the various guidelines set by the Demeter food standards or the dietary programs of anthroposophical institutions.
- Nutrition in Practice
There are no blueprints for the exact programming of one's daily food intake. This rests within the freedom of the individual. What can be said, however, is that such an individualised approach presupposes that one occupies oneself to some extent with questions relating to nutrition, that one has a basis of knowledge and has made some experiences. Dietary recommendations are not prescriptions, but a help in choosing. They usually describe the effects of specific foods and provide a basis for making a decision.
Based on our judgement of individual foodstuffs, we can make specific recommendations. On the basis of these, whole-foods nutrition has been developed that uses grains as staple diet. The descriptions of Rudolf Steiner and the experiences of many different people have also led to the practice of eating fewer meat and fish products and favouring an ova-lacto vegetarian diet (with milk and eggs). This however, depends entirely on the choice of the individual and his or her needs.
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The Importance of Biodynamics!
I will offer more on the topic of the importance of BIODYNAMICS in my next Guide :
Importance of BIODYNAMIC & ORGANIC LIVING FOODS - Part 2
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