coynedj wrote:This has been a much-talked-about issue on these threads. But it has been a while - forgive me if I resurrect something people would rather have heard the last of.
Biodynamics was created by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) as a way to instruct farmers how to influence organic life through cosmic forces. Allow me to quote from an academic paper on the topic:
...(B)iodynamic agriculture, as initially conceived, consisted primarily of concocting and utilizing eight biodynamic "preparations" that would "stimulate vitalizing and harmonizing processes in the soil."
The instructions for preparing the eight biodynamic compounds are complicated and can be found on a number of websites and popular literature. Briefly, two of the compounds are prepared by packing cow manure (preparation 500) or silica (preparation 501) into cow horns, then buried for a number of months before the contents are swirled in warm water and then applied to the field. Cow horns are utilized as antennae for receiving and focusing cosmic forces, which are transferred into the materials inside. The other six compounds (preparations 502-507) are extracts of various plants packed into the skulls or organs of animals (i.e. deer bladders, cow peritonea and intestines) or into peat or manure, where they are aged before being diluted and applied to compost. The chemical agents contained in these preparations were said to be carriers of "cosmic and terrestrial forces" and would impart these forces to crops and thus to the humans that consume them.
Well, where to start. Let's just say that I don't believe in contributing my money to anyone who fosters such hooey. As has been noted on this thread, refusing to patronize companies one disagrees with strongly (such assaults on science must not go unnoticed or unremarked upon) is just fine and dandy. I won't organize political campaigns against them. But biodynamics isn't just a form of organic agriculture - it's a fakery.
I'm a (social) scientist and don't believe in mumbo jumbo. Especially since half the sociopsychological papers I see are full of crap. However, it's possible to throw the baby out with the bathwater! Think of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and even Newton, Darwin, Freud... They didn't get everything right, and some of them wrote some downright rubbish! (also see Beethoven for that). You have to allow for some error in good works, and see how it is that they ended up at good results given their worldview at the time. Now, this man is no Newton, but he may have divined good organic practices from the "wrong direction" as it were. 65% Correct, but for the wrong reasons, and probably because from what I can remember (which isn't much) Biodynamics is about being wise with the soil and environment, and not using chemicals whose byproducts and effects on the soil, plants and wine itself you do not fully understand.
Yes, in the Biodynamics there is a bunch of moon-loving oddity, but if you look at the general practice, and the RESULTS of the quality wines by biodynamic winemakers then you may be less intolerant of different viewpoints to your own. What it seems to do is take modernist practices back to organic, land-based, environmentally-sound practices, and that can only be good for the soil, and the local ecosystem.
Science doesn't know everything, and the best scientists understand the limits of their understanding, and theories. In the unknown, complex and as yet not-entirely controllable arenas of our natural world we have to rely on practical wisdom (thank you Aristotle), empirical biological observations, and good judgement. The best scientists, and artisans, are humble.
Furthermore, Hugh Johnson is a traditionalist who likes good wine and wouldn't stand for no egg nog, and he loves the results of buidynamicity. He has fine judgement.