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Organic,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Business

“Jo, you are promulgating some awful myths” ~ The Primer & The Proper Response

This was a comment on my story about organic wines:

Jo, you are promulgating some awful myths…

What follows is the The Primer & The Proper Response backup, because who can leave all of this below in a comment box?

Let me just state first and foremost, I’m a product of the “Summer of Love.” I began researching and searching for “organic” foods beginning in 1969, which means I’ve been buying them since then. At that time, “organic” was considered just that:  no chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides were used.

I also believe, now that the government has stepped in to decide what’s organic and what’s not, there are probably some really gray areas that have also been established by the USDA, along with some good things.

With all due respect, our FDA has some well-heeled lobbyists paving the way to our health, and it’s not for the betterment of people. It’s for the betterment of the companies that have hired the lobbyist. Not convinced that could be true? Let’s talk about the US Supreme Court deciding that corporations can now contribute to campaigns, as if they were private citizens. I may be a product of the summer of love, but my rose colored glasses can see more clearly than the average set of non tinted glasses.

Don’t get me started… too late…

  1. So, how’s your corn syrup these days?
  2. How about the government saying that “pizza” now fits into the four food groups under the category of a vegetable... a tomato…
    1. Wrong, wrong, wrong
    2. A tomato, besides, is a fruit, not a vegetable. (Maybe that’s why they got it wrong in the first place… Wasn’t there one Republican that knew the difference?)
  3. Read Sugar Blues, like I did, way back when it was released, and I threw out everything in my house with sugar as my children looked on in horror.
  4. Fluoride in tooth paste is another great myth given to us by our government.
    1. Before fluoride was declared a “cavity fighter,” it was used as an insecticide and rat poison.
    2. Yum…
    3. Guess what, very few doctors will weigh in on any of this; although, my one of my daughters just told her dentist, “No more fluoride treatments on my kids,” and the dentist was aware.

Journalists, which I don’t see myself as, are myth busters. Occasionally, I get ramped up and write more than a journal. This is one of those times.

So, back to “organics,” and my broadcasting some awful myths. Here are his perceived myths… BTW ~ This picture above was my image of proof; same everything, except the vines on the right are organic and the ones on the left aren’t.

  • He: First, there is no reason for organic vineyards to have lower yields than “non-organic”.

To which I answered: I wonder why, when I’m in the vineyards with any number of grape growers and winemakers, they all tell me that their organic vines produce so much less? I can even tell you of one instance where a very famous winemaker and grower (but, I can’t give you his name, because he hasn’t given me permission) who told me, “I’ve got one block of organic, but it doesn’t really produce much of anything. I do it because people want it, but it doesn’t pay for itself.”

  • He: Second, you are confusing organic with locally grown. Large scale agribusiness has long recognized the marketing value of “organic”, and, unfortunately, the vast majority of organic foods now sold in this country are factory farmed. Organic tomatoes don’t taste better; local vine ripened tomatoes do taste better.

To which I answered: I also wonder why I’m confusing “organic” with “locally grown?” The labels and tech data all say, “Organic.” Hum… I have an organic garden. I just took out my last tomatoes today, and they were awesome… Some of the locally grown stuff around here doesn’t even come close. Just my perception and reality… because that’s my perception.

  • He: On another note, sulfur dust is used by organic growers as well as by “non-organic” growers. It is all produced as a by-product of petroleum refining, but is allowed for organic production because it is the same as mineral sulfur from mines.

To which I answered: Yes, I know about sulfur dust, and organic has to be under a certain number of parts per million to qualify, but still farmers who are organic are much more frugal with their sulfur, in order to pass ultimate scrutiny. Many of them hate using anything.

  • He: Organic regulations are based on the arbitrary distinction of whether something is “natural” or not rather than whether it is harmful or not. If nicotine and arsenic were still being used as pesticides they would be allowed under organic regulations.

To which I answered: I agree with you on, “Organic regulations are based on the arbitrary distinction of whether something is ‘natural’ or not rather than whether it is harmful or not.” I still see what’s used that’s harmful as abhorrent, and I know [synthetic] chemicals in our bodies are. Why do you suppose we have so much more cancer today than in years gone by? The mere thought of “nicotine and arsenic were still being used as pesticides they would be allowed under organic regulations” is a terrible thought. (I wonder why it was stopped?) Our government gave WW II soldiers lots o’cigarettes, and after four massive coronaries and two strokes, my father’s suffering was finally over… They told them that the cigarettes would be good for them…

Getting “organic” from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

  1. Farming
    • Organic: This is the most basic form of being healthy in a vineyard. This method eludes the synthetic use of fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Organic viticulturist are dedicated to preserving our delicate ecosystem. They consider themselves stewards of the land. Instead of chemical fertilizers, they use cover crops and composted animal manure or algae; instead of chemical insecticides, they use lady bugs, spiders, hawks, and owls. (You’ll note those larger bird boxes in the vineyards.) Bats are also not discouraged from having homes nearby. Organic farmers also plant plants that attract beneficial bugs, that act as predators (ladybugs, for instance). While the organic farmer would rather not use a fungicide, they’re permitted to – these days – under the certification program currently in place. Organic farmers will only use them as a last resort, though.
    • Biodynamic: This is farming with a good dose of spirituality thrown in for good measure. We all have the freedom to worship as we will. I don’t farm dynamically; however, I respect the right of others to do so, if it makes them more secure in their methodology. Now that I’ve made that clarification, I do farm by using the rhythms of the cycles of the sun and moon, just as the ancients did. (My dad used to own an ambulance service, and those cars were loaded with people who couldn’t control themselves during full moon phases… My dad hauled them off to hospitals, and his police officer friends also spoke about how their jails loaded up during a full moon. I’d rather see farmers harvesting under a full moon, than being hauled off to hospitals or jails. Do you agree?) If biodynamic farmers want to fight fungus, they have to get them from the Josephine Porter Institute of Virginia.
    • Sustainable: These vit people are like the organic and biodynamic farmers, with the only difference being that they don’t have any agencies looking over their shoulders. They farm with a “stewards of the land” attitude, but will use whatever they may need, if nature brings some unforeseen emergency. They prefer animals for maintaining balance, for instance, that eat cover crops. the benefits being:
      • No machines are used in the vineyards, with exhaust peppering the grapes; and no dust is created, also peppering the grapes.
      • They leave behind nitrogenous waste as they go along.
      • It’s visually a gas…
  2. Winemaking
    • Wines made from organically grown grapes can be advertised as such.
    • Cellar methods, as regards sulfites:
      • 100 percent Organic = no added sulfites… period
      • Organic ~ 95 percent organic ingredients ~ No added sulfites, but naturally occurring sulfites can be measured up to 100 parts/million.
      • Organic ingredients ~ 70 percent organic ~ Sulfites have to measure below 100parts/million.
      • Some Organic ingredients ~ Below 70 percent organic ingredients, with no info on the label about any certifying agencies.

Okay, all of this explained as I know and understand it, I’m still wondering what awful myths did I promulgate?

I said, organic food tastes better, and he took off on that. I KNOW it tastes better; I’ve been tasting food for a very long time. I know the difference between enhanced with chemicals and enhanced by nature… No myth, just reality, and I dare say so.

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2 Responses to ““Jo, you are promulgating some awful myths” ~ The Primer & The Proper Response”

  1. Bravo! Great, great article. Informative, educational and most of all, the best “rebuttal” I’ve read in a long time. .

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Cindy, thanks. I’m now regretting that I didn’t take debate in high school. I’m realizing, through this blog, how much I love a good debate. (I have a long line of lawyers in the family, and now also realize, I would have enjoyed defending causes, too.)

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