Biodynamics: making tasty food sustainable

By Myfoodformula Founder and Nutritionist Hannah Gentle

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Rathbone; a Biodynamic farmer and member of Save Our Soil, at the Saint Kilda Veg Out Farmers Market in Melbourne.

Mark is passionate about Biodynamic farming, not only for the environmental benefits and soil properties it enhances, but also because of the taste! Oh, the taste. The biodynamically-grown pumpkin I purchased certainly puts me in agreement with him. Mark very kindly offered to write a guest blog for the Myfoodformula website - and here it is! He is also the grower of the juicy red strawberries in the Blog header. Like he says - if bugs want to eat them then we probably do too!

Read on to find out more about what Biodynamic farming is, and what to look for when purchasing food to make sure you get that flavour hit while supporting local food producers.

What is Biodynamic Agriculture?

"Biodynamics is a unique form of regenerative organic agriculture which focuses on growing soil more than it does growing plants. Demeter Biodynamics was conceptualized by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, and brought to Australia and perfected for our conditions in the 1950s by Alex Podolinsky. Alex has always said through our food "we are the creators of health not the healers of sickness."

Our certfied Demeter biodynamic method differs from all other methods of Agriculture in that the plant feeds solely from the soil humus (fully digested organic matter in colloid form) and not through water soluble fertilisers.

This means that the plant drinks it's water and transpires it off through it's vertical taproot system and feeds separately through the horizontal fine hair root system. Plants then photosynthesise more effectively and the sugars and plant nutrients are intensified. If you ever want to see an example of that then come to my stand Save Our Soil at the Melbourne Community Farmers' Markets in the summer and see how many people are lining up for my melons. (Hannah, I think you will taste it in the pumpkin!)

Most Demeter certified produce is available at any good organic retail store. For more information go to www.saveoursoil.com.au or http://www.biodynamic.com.au.

Mark Rathbone's guide to purchasing clean, nutritionally rich, and guaranteed fresh foods

1. Let flavour be your guide if you're produce is bland and lacks flavour it probably lacks other things as well.

2. Steer clear of the very over-sized produce, that you feel is unrealistic. This usually means it has been unnaturally pumped with an unbalanced amount of nutrients through the plant's water retention system.

3. Look out for produce that all looks the same size and is uniformed. Natural food should look individual as if the plant has fed discriminately on the natural soil.

4. Don't be afraid of a few bug marks or blemishes - this is a sign that no pesticides or fungicides were used. But don't rule out the fact that some certified organic and biodynamic produce can be perfect.

5. If you are going to a farmer's market and you cannot find certified organic or biodynamic produce - and you have to purchase from a non certified grower - always ask specific questions. Like: have you used weed killer on any part of the farm now or in the past? Do you use fungicide or pesticide in any part of the produce process? What things have you added to the soil to make this grow? If you cannot fully understand or recognise the elements (e.g. natural) that have gone into the food production and transport to market, then find another supplier. Make sure the produce is actually grown in the ground and in the soil as this is how nature intended.

6. Finally, if you are going to a farmer's market, have a look at the farmer. Are they healthy, enjoying their work and a generous of spirit and produce? This is who you want to grow your healthy produce. Their pride, care and consideration for their produce is passed on to you.

Growing, buying and eating produce should be an absolute joy - those combined energies have got to be better for your whole health. If you're not going WOW, that tastes amazing! then perhaps you should look for a new produce supplier.

Copyright Mark Rathbone 2017