There are so many labels attached to our foods it can be hard to keep track. Let us do our best to help you untangle the information.
First, a generalization can be made. We want our food “clean,” and without harmful chemicals in it. A conscious farmer wants this too. Moreover, she or he wants the soil to keep producing, and the only way that happens is through careful farming practices. The labels we see on our food are indicators of farming practices. So, let’s see if we can shed some light on these.
Food produced without the use of synthetic additives (ie. petroleum-based treatments). Animals raised organically cannot be treated with antibiotics or hormones, and their feed must be grown organically. If a grower does have to treat to save a crop, they must treat with an approved “organic” substance. To get an organic label, a grower or producer jumps through many hoops that involve frequent and expensive spot-checks of their methods, as well as other monies disbursed to merit the label. The USDA offers an explanation of organic here: USDE: What the USDA Organic Label Means
Production methods geared towards meeting the community and the grower’s needs without compromising the health of humans or the planet. This is the most comprehensive method of farming, which allows growers to treat a crop if they must, to save it and their own economic situation.
A farming method developed by Viennese anthroposophist philosopher Rudolf Steiner at the turn of the 20th century. It is a complex agricultural system based on a thriving diversity of plants, landscape, and animals. All cultivation is directed towards harmony and health, is based on the lunar cycle, and uses inputs made on the farm. The ethics of biodynamic farming include treating crops, animals, and landscape with respect.
The official definition is “existing in or derived in nature”. When applied to food, it has no specific meaning but is a marketing term.