What's the Difference Between Organic and Biodynamic Farming?
Did you know that the term “organic farming” was first used in 1940?
That coincides with the start of the large-scale production of the first synthetic fertilizers. The organic farming movement originated from the idea that the soil and its ecosystem need to be kept healthy to produce healthy food and originally looked at the whole setup of the farm, including crop rotation, use of manure, and more.
Today, a variety of organic labels guarantee compliance with minimum standards, such as the absence of synthetic fertilizers and toxic herbicides.
But what if we want more than this minimum standard? Let’s dive into how a mother asking herself this question turned into a successful business.
Sustainable shopping made simple
THE SEARCH FOR BABY-SAFE TEXTILES
When Janice Masoud started looking for textiles that would not irritate her babies’ skin back in 1998, it was hard to find anything. And since she wanted only the best, she decided to use her background in fashion and production and her passion for ethical manufacturing and sustainability to start her own company.
Apart from many social and sustainable initiatives that set this company apart from your everyday organic kids' clothing, the farm that produces all the cotton for Under the Nile is run biodynamically. I’ve always been a bit vague as to how that’s different, but her website explains it beautifully:
CROP FOCUSED vs FARM FOCUSED
The demand for organically grown food and fibers is growing, and it’s a good business, even for big agricultural corporations, to jump into that market. With crop-focused certifications such as the National Organic Program in the U.S., it’s possible to have just a few designated parcels certified and produce a little organic produce on the side.
The biodynamic concept is holistic and requires the entire farm to be certified. This is because a biodynamic farm functions as a closed system and is independent and sustainable. The natural limit for a farm's livestock is the amount of feed it can grow. All fertilizers must be produced on the farm, from compost and manure. In a way, biodynamic farming is the almost 100-year-old archetype of the circular economy.
HOW BUSINESS VALUES TRANSLATE INTO PEOPLE'S LIVES
Just as the biodynamic approach takes sustainability in farming a step further, companies with strong values can do so much. A deep appreciation for the value of resources and an honest commitment to providing value for the community led to a variety of initiatives from Under the Nile. You won't find them boasting about a zero-waste policy, but you may find that they use the scraps from their clothes manufacturing to produce rags as a part of their vocational training program. You will see that they not only employ women at all levels of their manufacturing but are also aware that most married women in Egypt don’t leave the house to go to work – so they bring work to the villages.
We love to see these stories beyond the labels and certifications, so we vet companies for a wide variety of criteria.
Curious to find out more? Click on the “Reasons Why” the next time you're shopping on Amazon and get a product recommendation in your askBelynda pop-up.
And if you haven't a chance yet, and want to shop more sustainably on Amazon:
Want to learn more about our vetting process, check out our manifest.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.