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“Healing the planet through agriculture”

Hawthorne Valley Farm • Ghent, New York

Biodynamic Farm

Hawthorne Valley Farm • Ghent, New York
Grgich Hills Estate • Rutherford, CA

Biodynamic Farm

Grgich Hills Estate • Rutherford, CA
Hoskins Berry Farm • Kings Valley, OR

Biodynamic Farm

Hoskins Berry Farm • Kings Valley, OR
Avena Botanicals • Rockport, ME

Biodynamic Farm

Avena Botanicals • Rockport, ME

Marketplace Notes...

Healthy Food, Healthy People, Healthy Planet

“Pushing the Biodynamic segment is the logical next step in sustainability and soil fertility. Now that we have made Organics and Non-GMO household names, we are creating a niche for “beyond organic” products grown thru the most ecologically sound methods.”    Errol Schweizer, Executive Grocery Coordinator, Whole Foods Market

Today’s savvy consumer isn’t just seeking out food that is healthy and good for them and their families, they increasingly want food that was grown, processed and brought to market in a way that is healthy for the planet.

Up until a few years ago, agriculture was the elephant in the environmental living room.  But we know that you can’t mitigate climate change unless you fix agriculture, because agriculture (farm to table) is the biggest man-made contributor to greenhouse gas emissions: somewhere around 25 – 30%.  Methane (livestock), carbon dioxide (deforestation), nitrous oxide (chemical fertilizers).  It is also the largest user of increasingly scarce fresh water resources. 

As an example- think about how we raise chicken in the US.  The number of chickens produced annually in the US has increased 1,400% since 1950 while the number of farms producing those birds has dropped 98%. The US now producers 8.84B broilers every year- on 2,170 farms (640k birds per farm)- that produce 2M tons of chicken litter per year.  Think of the arsenic, the antibiotic-resistant pathogens, the nitrogen and phosphorus literally pouring into the watershed.  And btw- about 1/6 of that is in the state of Georgia.

So our food system is causing more pollution and using more natural resources than our planet can sustain.  At the same time- we have to actually increase the amount of food being produced to meet demands of a rising global population.  Clearly we need a more sustainable food system: we need to produce enough food but with less dependence on toxic chemicals, fossil fuels, energy and water. 

How do we meet these seemingly disparate goals?  One way is by turning farms into carbon sequestration factories.  Agricultural land can be one of the most important sources of carbon sequestration on the planet.  Moving from conventional to organic to Biodynamic can turn an industry that’s a net producer of greenhouse gases to one that’s a net consumer.  I’ve seen data from the Rodale Institute that supported the notion that if the US switched it’s corn and soybean acreage to organic production, this alone could have met the majority of the Kyoto Protocol metrics.  (http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/ob_31)

Ecological agriculture as a solution to climate change, instead of as a contributor to it.  Pretty cool.  Demeter’s vision is to heal the planet through agriculture.  We are beginning to see an awakening consumer and retailer consciousness that understands that our own health and well-being is intrinsically connected to the health and well-being of our planet, and our farms must be healthy for our planet to be healthy.  Kudos to Whole Foods, who is working closely with Demeter to encourage their suppliers to bring Biodynamic products to market.  More to follow...

- Elizabeth Candelario
Co-Director, Demeter Assoc.

 

 

Almost one million Californians have signed the “Right to Know” petition that will put an initiative requiring genetically engineered foods to label as such on the state’s November ballot. 

Learn more at: carighttoknow.org

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