Zurich, Switzerland

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My last trip in Europe outside Sweden was to Zurich, Switzerland. I was hosted by biodynamics expert Andrew Lorand, who gave a small seminar on the basics of biodynamics. I’m very familiar with organic agriculture, but before this trip I didn’t have much experience with biodynamics.

Both biodynamic and organic agriculture are alternative methods to conventional agriculture that aim to be more environmentally friendly, but they have very different approaches. Organic agriculture might be unconventional, but to be organic you simply have to follow a set of rules and procedures laid out by whatever country you are in. There is no specific philosophy behind them and they vary between different countries. Typically, organic farmers simply use more natural pesticide and fertilizer alternatives.

Biodynamics has the philosophy of anthroposophy behind it, which was founded by Rudolf Steiner. It aims to look at farms as organisms in themselves with a goal of achieving natural balances. Unlike organics, it has a spiritual component. A biodynamic farmer consults astronomical planting calendars, for example. A biodynamic farm also is also going to emphasize being self-sufficient by growing a diversity of crops and hosting many different animals, insects, and other beneficial organisms.

In own experience, there growing disillusionment with the organic movement in the US. After learning about the Aurora “Organic” factory dairy, I realized that to get good milk I would have to do my homework and visit actual small farms to buy milk. This means I usually eschew milk altogether.
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In Switzerland you can get very high quality untreated raw milk and other dairy products at biodynamic stores.

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I got a chance to visit Steiner’s center, the Goetheanum. I took a tour and learned about the building and Steiner. His influence extends through many different spheres from Waldorf schools to homeopathy.

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Some of the inside is painted lovely soft plant colors. Some day they will paint the whole building.

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