Wall Street Journal – “Biodynamics: Natural Wonder or Just a Horn of Manure?”

November 10, 2010

Harvest is over, and I’m finally back.  It seems like harvest went on forever, we finished last Thursday, November 4.  Of the 36 harvests I’ve worked 2010 was the most difficult and clearly the most stressful.  There were late spring rains, a cool summer, weeds up the …., heat spikes, sun damage, 6 ½ inches of rain in late October, more sun and then more rain.  The Chardonnay and Riesling are both through fermentation and are excellent.  The reds are either still fermenting or are going through ML – too earky to tell.  How good or how poor will the vintage be?  Overall, I think the wine quality will be better than any of us have any right to expect. But only time will tell.

  Below is a very good article on Biodynamics by Jay McInerney that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304410504575560463995629960.html?mod=WSJ_LifeStyle_Lifestyle_6

  •  ON WINE
  • OCTOBER 23, 2010
  • Biodynamics: Natural Wonder or Just a Horn of Manure?

By JAY MCINERNEY

Burly, heavily bearded Stu Smith has been tending his vineyard atop Spring Mountain with his brother Charlie for more than 40 years. The Smith Brothers have gained a quietly loyal following for their Smith Madrone wines, despite eschewing such Napa conventions as new French oak, irrigation and Robert Parker raves.

Stuart, the more loquacious of the brothers, has been known to complain about the high alcohol and the high prices of many Napa wines. Recently he has directed his contrarian streak at a fashionable new target: biodynamic viticulture.

Biodynamics is a system of organic agriculture based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, the German theosophist, specifically on a series of lectures he delivered to farmers in 1924. It uses many of the principles of organic farming—no pesticides or chemical fertilizers—but goes further, relying on practices like planting and harvesting according to solar and lunar cycles and combating pests such as moths and rabbits by scattering the ashes of their dead brethren.

Some of the most revered domains in France practice biodynamic viticulture, including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Leflaive, Leroy, Chapoutier, Coulée de Serrant and Zind Humbrecht, and in recent years the system has been gaining converts in California. Araujo, Benziger, Grgich Hills, Sinskey, Joseph Phelps and Quintessa embrace it in Napa and Sonoma.

Last year Stu Smith created a local stir when he published a letter in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat charging that “biodynamics is a hoax and deserves the same level of respect we give witchcraft.” He has continued his assault on a website, Biodynamicsisahoax.com.

“Rudolf Steiner was a complete nutcase,” Mr. Smith writes, “a flimflam man with a tremendous imagination, a combination if you will, of an LSD-dropping Timothy Leary with the showmanship of a P.T. Barnum.”

In order to demonstrate his point, he quotes Steiner at some length—something which he claims proponents are reluctant to do. (And there’s some wild stuff to quote, about ghosts and the Lemurians, the jellyish beings who inhabited Atlantis.) The most emblematic and controversial practice of biodynamics is the practice of burying a cowhorn stuffed with manure at the time of the autumnal equinox. On or around the spring equinox, the horn is disinterred, the manure diluted in water and sprayed on the vineyard (This mixture is known as BD 500). Mr. Smith quotes Steiner about what the practice is meant to achieve:

“You see, by burying the cow horn with the manure in it, we preserve in the horn the etheric and astral force that the horn was accustomed to reflect when it was on the cow. Because the cow horn is now outwardly surrounded by the Earth, all the Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity. The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them. If the horn is buried for the entire winter—the season when the Earth is most inwardly alive—all this life will be preserved in the manure, turning the contents of the horn into an extremely concentrated, enlivening and fertilizing force.”

In my experience, Mr. Smith is correct that most biodynamic proponents would rather talk about results than quote Steiner, with the notable exception of the voluble and erudite Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant, whose devotion to the practice I wrote about in my last column. Robert Sinskey of Sinskey Vineyards in Carneros is a case in point.

In 1990, Mr. Sinskey told me, he and his winemaker, Jeff Virnig went to look at one of their Carneros vineyards that was in decline. At the time, they had been practicing “clean farming” (i.e., nuking the competition, blasting the soil with herbicides and pesticides). “One look at the soil told us that life was out of balance,” he said. They couldn’t penetrate the surface of the soil with a shovel, so they broke it up with a pick. They couldn’t find any earthworms in the ground, and there was little humus (organic soil matter such as decomposed leaves and other plant material). Up until then, they had been trying to kill off anything in the soil that might compete with their vines, and to add back anything the vines needed by applying fertilizers. “We had, in essence, sterilized the soil,” he said.

They applied their first BD 500 prep (the cow-horn manure tea) to the vineyard the following year. “The microbe-rich concoction jump-started life,” Mr. Sinskey said. “Within a few years, the soil rebounded with microbial activity, earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi. The original vineyard that motivated this journey turned around to become one of our favorite sites and produced one of our most distinctive wines.” I can vouch for the fact that recent vintages of that vineyard’s Pinot Blanc are very fine indeed.

The obvious question for biodynamic producers is whether organic farming, which eschews herbicides and pesticides without reference to Steiner or to cosmic forces, would produce similar results. A research paper entitled “Soil and Winegrape Quality in Biodynamically and Organically Managed Vineyards,” published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture in 2005, compared organic and biodynamic practices and seemed to find little difference. But most of the certified biodynamic practitioners I have spoken to over the years, none of whom were obviously certifiable, started with organic farming and moved on to biodynamics. And all of them profess to have seen superior results and healthier vineyards under the latter regime.

Jeff Dawson, who works as a biodynamic consultant with Araujo and Quintessa Vineyards in Napa, believes that the fact that Araujo’s Cabernet ripened well ahead of its neighbors’ this year is “a tribute to biodynamics.” (A nonbiodynamic neighbor of Araujo insists that Araujo’s vineyard site is warmer than most.) Mr. Dawson became interested in biodynamics after working at a biodynamic garden at Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino and observing the superior quality of the produce. He studied Steiner and his disciples and eventually ended up creating a biodynamic garden for Steve Jobs. Stu Smith will be rolling his eyes at this point and insisting that there’s no scientific basis for the claims of biodynamics. And he’s right. There isn’t.

Mr. Dawson paraphrases Steiner when answering the charge that there’s no scientific basis for biodynamics. “Science has cast its net on the world of nature. That net is not fine enough to catch all the aspects of creation.” Many proponents seem to believe that science will eventually catch up with the claims of biodynamics, particularly with regard to the influence of the solar and the stellar systems on the behavior of plants and animals.

The minimal claim to be made for biodynamics, it seems to me, is that it fosters a more intimate approach to the land, and that its products are less likely to contain the toxins that have for many decades been commonly employed in conventional agriculture. Then there’s the question of the quality of the congregation. Domaine Romanée Conti and Domaine Leroy, to take just two examples, are widely acknowledged to be among the greatest wineries on the planet. Many people want to belong to the same club, even though critics like Mr. Smith would argue that these properties were already great before they made the switch. Biodynamics certainly dovetails with the inescapable new green consciousness. Whether it is a manifestation of a new holistic approach to nature or a crock of preparation 500, wine lovers will be hearing the word more often in the years to come.

  2008 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Alsace, $21.95
Anybody who thinks she doesn’t like Riesling should try this one, apple cider with a buzz, medium-bodied and off-dry, a great introduction to one of the world’s finest producers.

2007 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir Los Carneros, $34.95
Translucent ruby in color, a ripe, well-balanced Pinot redolent of red fruits, drinking beautifully now. A terrific value. Buy it by the case.

2007 Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne, $45
This is a junior Puligny Montrachet, like Grace Kelly as a teenager, crisp, bright with ripe fruit, zingy acidity and a stony core that reverberates on the finish.

 

2005 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Estate Grown, $45
Deep purple with an nose of crushed berries. One the best cabs in years from a pioneering Napa estate that recently made the switch to biodynamics.

2009 Smith Madrone Riesling Napa Valley Spring Mountain, $27
Not biodynamic, but classic. Very light straw color, green-apple nose, with a citrusy vibrancy on the palate leading to a slatey, minerally note suggestive of a great Mosel.

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PEOPLE SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS

September 28, 2010

Two recent and interesting winery profile articles are worthy of note because of the vintners’ comments regarding Biodynamic farming.

 The first article, Cultivating a Cult Cabernet, in the  September 11, 2010 Wall Street Journal by Jay McInerney, profiles Bart and Daphne Araujo.   The elevator version is that Bart, a Harvard Business school guy with success in the construction industry, buys the highly regarded Eisele vineyard in 1991 and starts the Araujo Winery.   Keep in mind that McInerney singled out the first Araujo vintage, the 1991 for special mention.

 It’s always the case that what gets printed is only a fraction of the conversation that goes on between the winery subjects and the writer due to all sorts of issues such as what interests the writer, what gets deleted by the editor and how well the winery stays on their topic – or not.  So it’s impossible to tell if what McInerney reports was what the Araujos thought was most important.

 Here’s the point: in the article Bart says that because many of his favorite wineries in France were Biodynamically farmed he thought that he should too and so he became Demeter-certified in 2002.  Keeping up with the Leroys, Leflaives and the Chapoutiers is apparently a good idea.  Unlike many new vintners in the 1990s the “Araujo story is unique … in part because of their hands-on, fanatical devotion to it, and to every detail of grape growing and winemaking,” so I find it contradictory that “Mr. Araujo cheerfully admits that he doesn’t understand all of the intricacies of biodynamics.”  “But hey,” he says, “I’m a Catholic.  I’m used to making leaps of faith.”  So after dumping a bucket load of money and “fanatical devotion” onto the vineyards, the winery and marketing we’re all supposed to accept that the Araujos joined the Biodynamic community just to keep up with the Joneses.  Here’s another case of “Biodynamic speak:” the vintner admits to no real knowledge of Biodynamics but then makes the claim that “the vineyard is far healthier than it was 10 years ago, before the switch, and ripens earlier.”    

 From tasting all 20 vintages of Araujo wine, McInerney singled out the 1991 vintage as “especially complex,” a wine made eleven years before the vineyard became Biodynamic certified and “far healthier.”

 The second interesting article, Scaling New Heights, by Mitch Frank, October 15, 2010 Wine Spectator, is a profile about Alois Lageder from the Alto Adige area of northern Italy.  Mr. Lageder is the fourth generation to run his eponymous winery and began converting to Biodynamic farming in 2004 because “He thinks biodynamics offers the best hope for keeping vineyards healthy as the (global warming) temperatures climb.”   Lageder says “we must adapt now.”   I’ve read all of Steiner’s AGRICULTURE and as much of Joly as I can stand and I’ve never once seen any mention that Biodynamics was the cure for global warming.   Unfortunately, Frank didn’t do a follow-up question as to why Lageder thought this to be true.   Here is more “Biodynamic speak,” a ridiculous claim with no supporting evidence.  However, I must applaud Frank for being the first writer for a major publication (that I’m aware of) to present a more balanced view of Biodynamics with “The approach is not without critics, however, who point out that no scientific studies have shown it is any more  effective than organic agriculture at creating healthy soils and better fruit or wines.  They worry it promotes superstition over science.”   Well said, Mr. Frank!

 Another interesting quote: “Lageder needed workers who believed in biodynamics as strongly as he did.  ‘It won’t work if you don’t believe in it,’ Lageder says.”    

 Stuart Smith


WHY IS TODAY DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER DAYS?

September 22, 2010

 TODAY’S THE DAY!!! Preparation 500!   September 22, 2010 @ 7:28 A.M.      Burying cow horns on the Autumnal Equinox – SPIRITUAL MANURE!

Here is the very essence of Biodynamics.  Preparation 500 is the burying of cow horns, probably the most visible and controversial of the nine preparations.  To be a Biodynamic farmer you must be certified by Demeter USA, and Demeter USA is an absolute follower of Rudolf Steiner.  Demeter USA requires the use of preparation 500 and 501 at least annually.  There is no such thing as being “Biodynamic lite”.

 A Biodynamic practitioner obtains a cow horn, stuffs it full of cow manure and buries it on or around the autumnal equinox.  On or around the spring equinox, it is dug up and the “horn manure” is made into a highly diluted (homeopathic) spray that when applied to your fields enlivens it with cosmic forces. It’s all bull manure to me, but Biodynamic farmers like Mike Benziger claim they use Preparation 500 “because it works!”

 But don’t trust me; let’s go to the original material: What does Herr Steiner have to say during his Lecture Four, June 12, 1924, pages 64-74.  This is a longer post than most, and there are more quotes from Steiner, but understanding preparation 500 is at the center of Biodynamics and we should deal with it as completely as this format will allow.   But first, a note for Americans by Herr Steiner when he was asked the following question following the lecture:

 “Where can we get the cow horns?  Do they have to come from Eastern or Central Europe?”

 Steiner:  “Life in Africa, Asia, and Europe has a totally different significance than life in America.  So it is possible that horns from American cattle would have to be treated somewhat differently to make them effective.…”   (Most cows after three or four years of living in one place) “belong to that land, unless they are Western cattle.”³   Note 3 says “Western cattle may adapt more slowly because their bodies are especially “dense”; the bodies of human beings in America are described by Steiner as being “very, very, dense” (1921, Jan. 6).”

 Steiner, LECUTURE FOUR:

 “You see, if we want to manage things properly in the various domains of agriculture, it is certainly necessary to have insight into the way substances and forces work, and also into the way the spirit works.…  We must recognize that fertilizing must consist of enlivening the soil, so that the plant is not in dead soil…”

 “Have you ever thought about why cows have horns, but certain other animals have antlers?  Remember that I said that something living need not have (cosmic) forces that only stream outward, it can also have forces that stream inward.  What happens at the places where the horns and hoofs grow?  At these places the streams (cosmic forces) are especially strongly turned back inward, and the outside is particularly strongly shut off.  All outward communication, such as can occur through skin or hair, is completely ruled out.  In this way, the development of the horns and hoofs is connected to the form and development of the animal as a whole.”

 “Antler formation is something totally different.  In the case of antlers, the streams (cosmic forces) are not directed back into the organism; instead the antlers serve as outlets so that certain streams can be led outward for a ways and discharged there.”

 “A cow has horns in order to send the formative astral-etheric forces back into its digestive system, so that much work can be accomplished there by means of these radiations from the horns and hoofs.  So you see, there is something inherent  in a horn that makes it well-suited for reflecting living and astral influences back into the activity of the interior.  In a horn you have something that can radiate life, and even astrality. 

“Next let us take the manure, in whatever form is available, and stuff it into a cow horn, and bury it in the ground at a certain depth – I would say between ¾ and 1 ½ meters … You see, by burying the cow horn with the manure in it, we preserve in the horn the etheric and astral force that the horn was accustomed to reflect when it was on the cow.  Because the cow horn is now outwardly surrounded by the Earth, all the Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity.  The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them.  If the horn is buried for the entire winter – the season when the Earth is most inwardly alive – all this life will be preserved in the manure, turning the contents of the horn into an extremely concentrated, enlivening and fertilizing force.”

 “Once the winter is over, we can dig up the cow horn and take the manure out of it… After spending the winter underground, the cow horn contains an immense astral and etheric energy, which you can now use by diluting the contents with ordinary water, which should perhaps be warmed up a bit.”

 “The next thing to do is to spray the substance over your plowed fields, so that it can really unite with the soil…. If you manage to supplement your usual manuring with this kind of “spiritual manure,” you will soon see what fertility will result.”      Underlining added

 I have three comments:

 1.  Why is it that I try to quote Steiner as much as possible and Biodynamic practitioners never do?   Because I don’t think anyone would believe me if I tried to paraphrase him.  Steiner’s words clearly and forcefully demonstrate a lunacy that  must be experienced firsthand to believe.

  Why do all the practitioners speak in broad generalities which I call “Biodynamic Speak” such as “yes, it’s a little strange, but it works because my vineyards have never been healthier or my wine has never been better,” but never speak directly to what Steiner said?  Because of what I call the TV test.  Could Bart Araujo, Kevin Morrisey or Mike Grgich stand in front of national television cameras and talk about  burying the cow horn so the “Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity? (thus)  The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them.”  They’d look like fools, which is why they all utilize Biodynamic Speak and never directly quote Steiner.

 2.  Preparation 500, and the other eight preparations, have no history before Steiner.  I have not found any mention of burying a cow horn in past farming cultures or as ancient practices from past civilizations.  Supporters claim that Biodynamics is based on old farming practices, forgotten and abandoned with the onset of the industrial age.  As far as I can tell, these claims are false, because Biodynamics is completely the unique creation of Herr Rudolf Steiner.

 3.  I believe it is correct to call this animal sacrifice.  Not just any animal will do.  The horns shouldn’t come from an animal killed at the slaughterhouse, it has to be a cow, the cow must have given birth at least once, and it should have lived in the surrounding area for several years.  I assume the rest of the animal is used, but that is not the point.  A Biodynamic farmer’s protocol is to kill the cow for its horns and then ritualistically bury them in the ground for six months in the belief that it will make their crops grow better.

 So there you have it, preparation 500 and the very essence of Biodynamics.

Stuart Smith


HE THREW DOWN THE GAUNTLET!

September 6, 2010

I’ve been on a little hiatus with a short vacation to Ketchum, Idaho, a sales trip to Colorado, some long overdue yard work and getting ready to bottle. Harvest is still some ways off for us. Global warming seems to have skipped over Napa Valley since we’re experiencing one of the coolest summers ever. Harvest appears to be about three weeks late. The next 60 days or so should be very interesting – will it be perfection, heat, rain, or some combination of them all?

In the April 2010 issue of NorthBayBiz Magazine Kevin Morrisey (winemaker & GM of Ehlers Estate Winery) wrote a piece called The Vines Are Alive. The attitude and positions that Mr. Morrisey expresses are exactly what drove me to create BiodynamicsIsAHoax.com. This biodynamic practitioner’s moral superiority is maddening. Had Mr. Morrisey simply extolled the virtues of organic and Biodynamics I wouldn’t have bothered critiquing his article, but he is so dismissive and condescending to conventional and sustainable farming that I felt I had to present an alternative view. He also tries to steal common conventional farming methods and claim them as the sole province of Biodynamic ideology.

#1: Mr. Morrisey talks about Ehlers Estate Winery’s initial foray into Biodynamics as “cleaning up the land” and ridding the soil of “chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers” which he then claims makes better wine. Mr. Morrisey is emphatic on this point: “Does it make better wine? Of course it does — not because it’s certified organic, but because organic and biodynamic farming is being used.” Proof? None offered! In my experience, only Biodynamic supporters claim superiority over other farming methods and denigrate others while doing so! Yes, I’m hyper critical of Biodynamics, but only after reading one too many claims of Biodynamic superiority without any supporting evidence.

#2: It’s my opinion that most California wine grape growers are a savvy, environmentally enlightened group so when Mr. Morrisey refers to conventional viticulture as “industrial” it’s both demeaning and insulting. Yet that is just what Mr. Morrisey does when he tries to justify Biodynamic farming costs of 25 to 30% higher than the “nonorganic, more industrial approaches” to farming that the rest of us practice. Any wonder why a few of us are upset with Biodynamics?

#3: Mr. Morrisey is OK with the added expenses: “Yes, there are added costs –but what of the unseen costs to society, the planet and human health by not doing it?” Wow, here’s another slap in the face! His message is clear: Conventional and sustainable farmers are irresponsible members of our community and our recklessness is causing untold damage to the world!

Before making such grand pronouncements maybe Mr. Morrisey should have considered the possibility that his efforts to be green may have actually increased the size of his vineyard’s carbon footprint because of the additional hours his vineyard workers have to put in. Consider that more man-hours worked, means more man-days required, which means more commuting back and forth to work, thus more gasoline is consumed, more automobiles are required, more farm labor housing is required, more social services are required and it goes on and on. Analyzing exactly how a vineyard can best reduce its carbon footprint is new and complex. Being green in the vineyards isn’t as easy or as black and white as Mr. Morrisey tries to market it.

#4: Mr. Morrisey slides right over the wacky side of Biodynamics with “In addition to working with biodynamic preparations, we put a lot of effort toward managing cover crops and composts.” I’m not Biodynamic and I was working with cover crops in conjunction with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service starting back in 1975 to evaluate which cover crops work best for Napa Valley vineyards. I was one of the earliest vineyards in Napa County to go non-till 35 years ago and like many other vineyards before me, I’ve been returning our stems, pomace and prunings back to the soil since I began Smith-Madrone.

Mr. Morrisey, why do you think you have a monopoly on caring for the earth, the soil, the environment? The vineyard practices that justify your Environmental Merit Badge are practices that we “industrial” farmers have been incorporating into our BMPs (Best Management Practices) since before you got into the wine industry. Cover crops, green manure, compost, IPM (Integrated Pest management), sustainability and much more are all concepts used by many farmers whether they are conventional, sustainable, organic or Biodynamic. True, many of us who are conventional or sustainable do use Nitrogen “out of a bag” (which is processed from the air), but then you, like us, use sulfur dust which is a byproduct from oil refiners. Please don’t forget that sulfur is a registered Pesticide with an EPA Registration number that requires monthly reporting to the Napa County Ag Commissioner, as does the use of all organically approved pesticides. Unless you can tell me that Ehlers Estate has never filed a Monthly Pesticide Use Report your statement that you don’t use pesticides is false!

The nine preparations are really the only unique part of Biodynamic farming and I find it interesting that you failed to discuss preparations like the animal sacrifice (preparation #500) required of certified Biodynamic farmers or the stuffing of yarrow flowers into the bladders of Red Stags (prepartion #502). Or maybe you’d like to explain how the Common Horsetail tea spray (preparation #508) prevented mildew in your vineyards this year? I didn’t think so…that’s why you had to use a petroleum by-product.

If Mr. Morrisey hadn’t written his piece extolling the virtues of Biodynamics while at the same time denigrating others, I wouldn’t have anything to discuss or respond to…He threw down the gauntlet and I accepted the challenge.

Stuart Smith


STEINER: “PEOPLE WITH CANCER SHOULD BE FORBIDDEN TO EAT TOMATOES”

August 14, 2010

The following passage is a great example of how difficult it is to track and understand Steiner, and just how nutty Steiner is.  He cannot keep on topic, he refers to unnamed authorities, he makes grand unsupported  pronouncements, he speaks of tomatoes as if they had souls, emotion and independent thought, and that they (the tomatoes) are willing to confide their innermost secrets to Steiner.  Because of the tomatoes’ independent nature, people with cancer should not eat tomatoes.  Frankly, Steiner’s writing is so nonsensical that if he told a mental health worker in New York City on a Friday night the following quote, I think he would have ended up in the Bellevue psych ward.   

 Demeter completely believes in Steiner and his writings.  It’s clear from reading Demeter that there is no such thing as “Biodynamic light.” To be a certified Biodynamic farmer you must follow Steiner’s teachings and use all of the nine preparations.   There is no way that a certified Biodynamic farmer gets to pick and choose what they are willing to use with a saying like “well, yes, Steiner is a little weird, but I just use what I think works.”   

I have underlined and bolded the text that I think is the nuttiest.    If you are a Biodynamic farmer or a supporter and think that the following quote makes any kind of sense, challenge me, take me on, tell me why I’m wrong and how Steiner is right.  

 From Agriculture by Rudolf Steiner, LECTURE EIGHT, Page 167, 168:

         “Now, there is still one especially important subject I want to mention. I would like to ask you to carry out very precise experiments in this area, experiments which can also be extended to include human beings, if they happen to like this food. You know that tomatoes were introduced as a food only relatively recently. Many people are very fond of them, but they are also an extraordinarily important thing to study.  You can learn an extraordinary amount by studying tomato production and consumption.  People who have given the matter a bit of thought – and there certainly are such people nowadays – believe that tomato consumption is highly significant for human beings.  This is true, and it could also be said for animals, for it would be quite possible for animals to get used to eating tomatoes.

        “Tomatoes have a significant effect on everything that tends to separate itself from the organism and develop an independent organization within the body.  Two things follow from this.  On the one hand, it confirms the statement of an American researcher, namely, that under certain circumstances, adding tomatoes to the diet can have a beneficial effect on an unhealthy human liver.  Because the liver is the organ that works most independently in the human body, when the liver is diseased, especially in animals, it could also be treated in general with tomatoes.  Here we gain insight into the relationship between plants and animals.  On the other hand, therefore – let me say this in parentheses – people diagnosed as having cancer should immediately be forbidden to eat tomatoes, because cancer from its very inception makes a certain part of the human or animal body independent of the rest of the organism.” 

        “But now we need to ask ourselves, why do tomatoes in particular have such a strong effect on everything that tends to be independent, on everything that specializes and separates itself off from the rest of the organism?  This tendency is directly related to what tomatoes prefer and require for their own growthTomatoes feel most at home when they are given manure or compost that is as close as possible to the form in which it comes from the animal or other source.  They prefer raw compost that hasn’t had much chance to be transformed through natural processes.  If you just throw all kinds of scraps together onto an untidy heap, and give the heap no further treatment or preparation, you’ll find that the most beautiful tomatoes will grow there.  And if you were to use compost made from tomato plants, that is, if you were to let the tomatoes grow in their own compost, they would grow even better.   Tomatoes have no desire to step outside of themselves, no desire to step outside the realm of strong vitality.  That’s where they want to stayThey are the least social beings in the entire plant kingdom.  They do not want anything from strangers, and above all, they do not want any fertilizer that has gone through a composting process; they reject all that.  This is the reason that they can influence what works independently within the human or animal organism.”

         “And in this respect, potatoes are somewhat similar to tomatoes.  They too act extremely independently, that is to say, they tend to pass very easily through the whole digestive process and then enter the brain and make it independent; they make it independent even of the influences of the other organs in the human body.  From the time potatoes were first grown in Europe, excessive potato consumption has contributed toward making human beings and animals materialistic.  We should only eat only enough potatoes so that our brain and our head in general are stimulated.  Potato consumption in particular should not be overdone.  Knowing these things brings agriculture into intimate relationship with society in an objective way.  And this is what is so important, that agriculture be related to the whole of social life.”

 This is a typical passage from Steiner’s lectures;  and is not taken out of context.  I simply cannot understand how any rational thinking person can read this fantasy and believe that Biodynamics is anything but a hoax!   The silence from Demeter is deafening!

Stuart Smith