to my astonishment, the same misunderstandings keep raising their ugly heads. Thus, I felt I may perhaps repeat myself, once again. It can’t hurt, but it probably won’t do any good either. It seems that certain people, or perhaps just Sune and nobody else (I really don’t know), find my convictions and my actions inconsequential. The thinking goes like this: if you criticize anthroposophy, in this case biodynamics, you must also contend that everything from the underlying ideas to the end-products are basically crap, and avoid them. This, however, is a rather black-and-white perspective, which I’m sure suits one-sided minds (like Sune’s, I’d say), for whom the world can be easily divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and where no shades exist.
I recommended the blog Biodynamics is a hoax, because I honestly think it is about time that someone who knows the field takes the proponents of biodynamics to task for their fantastic claims.
Saying that the biodynamic method is pseudoscientific is emphatically not to say that all biodynamic products are bad. They most definitely aren’t. There are many reasons for this. They compete in the higher price segments, so of course they can’t be crap — they would have maintain a certain quality level (or expect to sell only to other true believers). But biodynamic food may taste divine; yet, this is no indication that magic works. Those methods that are unique for biodynamics — i e, not shared with the larger community of organic farmers — are based virtually on nothing but magic thinking. The conclusion of believers is, not surprisingly, that these magic practices are effective.
My conclusion is rather different. It is that biodnamic producers do what they can to compete in their price segment, and as a result end up producing food which, most of the time, is of high quality. It isn’t the magic, though, which enables them to compete. It is other aspects of their work. For example, expensive vegetables from small-scale local growers are usually much tastier than mass-produced cheap stuff that has been transported from far away before it finally reaches our tables. Organically produced food usually tastes better than conventional varieties — in my opinion — but this rule is certainly not generally applicable now that organic food is also mass-produced and shipped over long distances. To sum up, there are many things which influence the quality of the product: scale of production, price, time (e g, for the food to grow and time in shipment), the commitment of the farmer to quality and to his farmlands, and so forth.
It is certainly possible that a religious farmer believes in appeasing the gods to yield better crops — it is also possible this farmer produces great food, and that I’d happily buy his products. This action of mine is, however, not to be interpreted as an endorsement of the belief in god(s) or in the belief that higher powers magically interfere in the production line. I think that’s complete bogus, regardless of the taste of the food produced under these conditions.
The same goes for biodynamic agriculture. As long as there is no solid proof to suggest otherwise, I’d say it’s safe to conclude that the magic aspects of biodynamic farming are nothing but — at most — unnecessary but perhaps enjoyable activities the farmer engages in due to his private spiritual beliefs. These particular practices do nothing for the farm products as such. But, obviously, everybody is free to believe that cow-horns with dung — dug down during full moon — have some higher connection with cosmic forces. This right does not entail the right to impose this belief on others as a scientifically valid viewpoint.
As for using biodynamic flour, which was what caused some consternation for certain people, there are several independent reasons for it. One reason is that it’s quite good, although I don’t know much about flour, I have to say. (I almost never bake my own bread, so I very rarely buy flour at all. It’s an odd example, but it was used, so I continue with it.) Another reason is that biodynamic flour is the only organic flour to buy that has not been imported, and it seems to me a waste of resources to ship flour from other countries (not that I have considered this question in any depths, I have to admit). The third, and perhaps most important, reason is that biodynamic flour is the only flour without additives. I have nothing against additives, but I see no point in favouring products with unnecessary additives. And since I grew up on bread baked on flour without additives, I can’t for my life understand what good the additives do. I’d rather buy just flour. Until other producers begin to offer this on the market, I see no reason to buy their products. I think it’s rather simple, actually.