Demeter Certification – What it mean for your food and health
Demeter was founded in 1928 by Rudolph Steiner as a certification system for biodynamic farming. It is the oldest certification system and is considered by many as the gold standard for organic farming.
Biodynamic farming takes a holistic approach, taking into consideration the natural bio-rhythms of the earth, seasons, moon cycles, soil, nutrients, composting and crops. No artificial chemicals or fertilisers are allowed and as a result Demeter certified biodynamic farms are reported to consistently produce higher quality crops with a significantly better taste and flavour.
The Core Values of Demeter
- Demeter is based on biodynamic farming – a concept incorporating farm cycling between crops and livestock to create a farm organism that is self sustaining.
- Soil fertility is developed through the integration of livestock, green manure, crop rotation, and field compost sprays rather than external chemical fertilisers.
- Pest and disease control is managed through biological diversity that encourages natural predator prey relationships. The development of humus further contributes to disease and insect resistance. Chemical pesticides are not allowed.
- Humus helps the soil retain water and ground water reserves are kept free from contaminants as no chemicals are allowed to be introduced into the agriculture.
- Biodynamic farming focuses on the whole farm rather than just individual crops and considers forces and processes rather than just substances.
The difference between Demeter and Organic Certification
It was Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic concept that inspired organic farming outside of Europe in the 1940’s and 50’s. In the UK an agricultural professor at Oxford, Lord Northborne coined the term “organic farming” based on Steiner’s biodynamic farming principles that had been applied at his Kent estate. A decade later, R.I Rodale published a book titled Organic Gardening in the USA.
It was largely due to the similarities in soil nutrient management and the avoidance of chemical fertilisers that Biodynamic and Organic farming are considered similar. However, Demeter certification takes organic farming to another level, focusing not only on the individual crop production but the whole farming process and ecosystem.
These are a few of the basic differences:
- Demeter was started as a certification system for biodynamic farming in the 1920’s, but it was only in 2002 that organic certification was introduced in the USA and other parts of the world.
- Organic certification allows for the importation of organic fertilizers and pesticides, whereas Demeter reduces the need for external fertilizers by relying on the integrated farming system to naturally provide nutrients and reduce pest issues.
- Demeter requires that at least 50%of the livestock feed is cultivated within the farm system. Organic farming allows for organic feed to be imported from anywhere in the world.
- Demeter has a biodynamic requirement whereas organic certification has none. Organic certification denotes only that no chemical pesticides or fertilisers have been used.
- With organic certification it is crop specific and organic crops can be sectioned from other crops on the same farm. To qualify for Demeter certification the entire farm needs to qualify according to biodynamic farming principles.
Demeter Certification is proof of quality food
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Demeter certification is that it incorporates 12 biodynamic processing standards that have been developed for specific product types. This means that minimal manipulation is required and that the agricultural ingredients can be used to define the products.
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