In many of my lectures and writings, I have asked my audiences this question: If you were to take all the substances that make up a physical carrot — 2 million carbon atoms, 1 million sulfur atoms, etc. — and put them in a heap on the table, would they be a carrot? So far, everyone has responded that this heap of substances would NOT be a carrot. Yet, the entire edifice of modern science and medicine is predicated on the theory (and, yes, it’s only a theory) that our entire universe consists only of physical substance. All people instinctively know that this is incorrect, and that something is clearly missing from the carrot. And, most would agree that this missing component is what really defines the carrot.
Biodynamic agriculture, arising out of Rudolf Steiner’s “spiritual science” of Anthroposophy, is, in its essence, an attempt to understand and characterize this missing component from the heap of carrot substances. This is not to say that the physical substances that make up any living entity are not important or even interesting to study; it’s that the living component might be far more important. More broadly put, unless we develop a way of understanding the difference between living beings and dead substances, our medicine or agriculture will be stuck in a kind of mud.
To me, obvious characteristics of this “life principle” immediately stand out. First, this missing life force gives rise to the form of the carrot. All heaps of substance, whether those of a carrot, beet or bird, are just that – formless heaps of non-living substances. The life force, which Rudolf Steiner called the “form” or “life” or “etheric body,” takes up water and mixes it with the substances to create a form unique to that living entity. Without water, this life “force” has no ability to interact with the substances. Hence, Steiner referred to this etheric or life force as the “water” body of any living being.
Biodynamic agriculture works directly with these life forces, which heals the farm’s soil, meadows, forests and streams in ways unique to modern agriculture. Also, working directly with these life forces creates food that is more nourishing for the human being than food grown in any other agricultural system that I am aware of. Wild foods, permaculture-grown foods and beyond-organic agricultural techniques are wonderful ways to grow food. Still, biodynamic farming assumes a special role in the rejuvenation of the living earth we all call home.
I have been eating biodynamically grown food as a component of my diet since the early 1980s. I first visited Hawthorne Valley Farm in 1983 when I lived for three months in New York’s Hudson Valley as part of my apprenticeship in anthroposophical medicine. The Hawthorne Valley Farm has since grown into one of the nation’s leaders in growing biodynamic food. It is Demeter-certified, meaning, it complies with all the various techniques used in the biodynamic method.
This week we are offering for the first time a product, hopefully the first of many to come, made from 100 percent Hawthorne Valley biodynamic produce. Our biodynamic Three-Beet Powder has a deep red color and complex, earthy flavor. Our processor told us these beets were the best vegetables they had ever worked with.
We at Dr. Cowan’s Garden have worked hard to bring this biodynamic beet powder into our line of products. We anticipate a growing line of biodynamic products as we continue our quest to bring the best quality food to our beloved customers.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
Happy Spring, everyone! As I type this on an early Sunday morning, we are having a beautiful early spring here in the Northeast. Our new garden fence is up, the garden beds are slowly being made, the greenhouse is nearly finished, and seedlings are in the greenhouse planter boxes. For me, spring represents many things, but on a completely practical level it means the transition from “exercise” to doing actual work with my body. Shoveling, pushing a wheel barrow through mud, pitch forking hay — these are my favorite ways to work up a sweat and start the day.