Western culture has become far more interested in where food comes from, which is a good thing. Many types of foods are produced in an unsustainable manner that overtaxes resources, and meat production on a factory farm is generally a horrific process. As attention is paid to reversing these standards, consumers are looking towards organic produce and free range meat, among other options.
One interesting food process is called biodynamic agriculture. Essentially, it was one of the first organic food movements, dating back to the 1920s. Much like regular organic production, it uses natural manure and fertilizer, instead of unnatural chemicals. The big difference is that biodynamic agriculture uses a fair share of spiritual and mystical methods. For example, quartz is buried to harness cosmic forces in order to aid growth.
When scientifically analyzed, the end result of biodynamic foods is no different than organic foods: you can skip all the mystical stuff and get the same results. Indeed, a study from 2011 concluded that biodynamic farms has lower yields than standard ones, but is more efficient with energy used. It also has larger earthworm populations: however, all of these results matched what would occur on a regular organic farm.
Many agricultural researchers have debunked the biodynamic process, essentially denouncing the “mystical magic” element. Clearly, you can get the same healthy farming by skipping such steps, and ultimately that’s what matters. Philosopher Michael Ruse has pointed out that biodynamic practitioners and advocates enjoy being outside mainstream scientific acceptance, which is likely where the appeal comes from.