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Demeter vs Bioland Certification: What’s the Difference?

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There’s a chance you might be reading this and wondering what Demeter or Bioland is, and how it relates to parenting. It sounds complicated, but today we’re taking a look at how both organizations work in a sustainable way that is good for the environment and gives to the earth more than it takes away.

How does this relate to parenting? Specifically, it involves organic formula milk, and where the milk comes from.

If you’ve ever wondered what ‘organic’ actually means, you’re not alone. There are varying standards in terms of organic farming, and it can be hard to know what it entails. Simply put, the word ‘organic’ means food – either plants or meat – grown or raised without the use of chemicals, such as pesticides.

It’s important to know the processes behind the way our food is grown for two reasons: firstly, it involves our health. We are growing more aware of what we are putting into our bodies, and that’s a good thing. We want to know what is included in what we eat and how it impacts our health, even more so when it comes to feeding our children. Secondly, it involves the planet. Are we making ecologically sound choices? How can we live in a sustainable way that ensures the safety and wellbeing of future generations? How are our choices now impacting the lives of our children or our grandchildren?

What is biodynamic farming?

farming

Simply put, biodynamic farming is a way of farming that encourages sustainability, working with nature and being mindful of the environment. Organizations that follow biodynamic farming methods try to constantly improve their practice, making environmentally friendly choices. They will usually grow food without the use of genetically modified seeds or using pesticides. They also strive to be as animal-friendly as possible, by giving them more space, for example.

Demeter was the first certification system for biodynamic farming to be established. It is a little more difficult to obtain than Bioland certification, which is slightly different, as you will see below.

What are the main differences between Demeter and Bioland certification?

Although both have very high standards, there are a couple of differences:

  • Demeter is a little stricter in terms of animal welfare, including the total ban on removing a cow’s horns. Some say this has an impact on the milk itself, including the taste
  • Only food produced themselves or by other Demeter certified farms may be used – this means animal feed, for example, will have no added chemicals or hormones
  • Demeter prohibits the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides completely, whilst Bioland allow nitrogen fertilizers/copper pesticides in small amounts

What is Demeter?

demeter logo

Demeter Biodynamic Certification is used in over 50 countries. It is the largest certification organization for biodynamic farming. It began in 1928 in Germany and is named after the Greek goddess of fertility and grain. To be Demeter certified, a farm must follow strict rules, and they need to have their certification renewed annually. The entire farm has to be inspected every year.

So what standards does a farm have to meet to become Demeter certified? Their ethos is centered around the farm as a ‘holistic organism’ and that everything to do with the farm’s disease prevention and insect and weed control must come from the farm itself. In practical terms, this means:

  • Instead of using harmful methods, weed control focuses on prevention, such as crop rotation and timing of planting
  • Animal welfare is important – animals must have enough space, must be protected from heat and dust, and each animal must have sufficient food and a space to lie down and rest. Practices such as tail docking are not allowed
  • Removal of cow’s horns is also banned. This aids the cow’s digestion, and some say it even impacts the composition of the milk. Also, the cows are fed with herbs in the feed, and some say the milk tastes better as a result
  • No synthetic fertilizers are allowed whatsoever

What is Bioland?

bioland

Bioland was founded in 1971. It is the largest organic food association in Germany. Like Demeter, it’s difficult to obtain certification as the standards are so high. Some of the principles include:

  • Animal welfare – fewer animals so that they have more space
  • Nitrogen fertilizers are only allowed in small amounts
  • Copper pesticides can only be used for perennial vegetables and in small amounts
  • 100% of the farm has to be based on organic food production
  • No genetically modified seeds are allowed
  • No blood, meat, bone, manure or guano fertilizers are allowed

What does all this mean for formula?

How does knowing this help you to decide which organic formula to use? It’s helpful to know what these certifications mean as it gives you more of an idea of the start-to-finish process behind your baby’s milk. If you are struggling to make a decision, knowing a little more about the production of the formula may be the information that helps you to choose.

Holle and Lebenswert are both great choices for parents who wish to feed their baby organic formula. For a more detailed comparison of the two, you can check our article here. Lebenswert is produced by farms with Bioland certification, while Holle is produced by farms with the Demeter label. For parents who wish to make sustainable choices, either would be a great option.

We hope that helps to inform you, so that the next time you are looking at the labels on organic formula, you can understand the process the product went through to go from farm to shelf. If you want to know more about organic milk, our guide might be able to help. Or, if you need help choosing bottles, we have a guide for that, too!

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