Who Needs a Drink?

Depending on which way the cookie crumbled for you last night with the election, you could either use a drink in celebration or in sorrow. This article from Green America suggests that you make it organic!

Photo from Green Earth Cafe & Bakery

Organic Beer and Wine

If you consume alcoholic beverages, try organic beer or wine. They’re better for your health and the planet, and they taste good, too.

Historian Gregg Smith writes that fermented beverages have been nourishing body and enlivening spirit since the very dawn of civilization, dating at least as far back as when the ancient Mesopotamians began storing away “liquid bread” for later use. If you already consume alcoholic drinks, consider buying organic beer or wine for your social engagements and celebrations. There’s a growing number of refreshing offerings from the vine, the grain, and the orchard that contribute to restoring the environment, empowering workers, and protecting your health. Not only are organic beer and wine better for your body, but you may find they taste better than their non-organic counterparts, too.

Why Go Organic?

Choosing organic beverages means that the grapes, barley, hops, apples, and other ingredients used to make your fermented refreshment are spared the application of toxic insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. These unhealthy chemical inputs pollute our water, air, and soil. Researchers at Cornell University estimate that at least 67 million birds die each year from pesticides sprayed on US fields. The number of fish killed is conservatively estimated at six to 14 million. And, many pesticides are toxic to humans, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Not only does chemically intensive farming devastate ecosystems and harm human populations, it also contributes to the crisis in family-owned farms. The US lost an estimated 650,000 family farms in the last decade. Organic farming, on the other hand, is proving to be small-farmer friendly-most organic farms are less than 100 acres.

Chemical-free organic drinks often taste better, too. Just ask Andrew Myers, dining room manager at Washington, DC’s Restaurant Nora, America’s first certified organic restaurant. “I recommend organic wines and beers to our customers because of their excellent quality, not just because it’s the right thing to do,” says Myers.

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ITEM! People Buy Organic Because It’s Better for the Environment

I found myself incredulously watching a story on the local news the other night about how organic food is “no more nutritious” than other food (I’m wondering which Monsanto-esque company supported Stanford to conduct this research). Now millions of easily convinced consumers are going to ignore the importance of organic because they aren’t aware of the other benefits: How about the fact that organic food is grown without pesticides and has less of an impact on the environment (aka is more sustainable)? Now, I know that small news stations are always scrambling for hard-hitting stories, but it would have been great if the reporter took the time to interpret the findings for their viewers to understand (not just interview people on both sides)…instead of just adding to the half-informed media hype.

Luckily, journalists interested in all sides of the issue do exist – check out this great interview with Michael Pollan from the Bay-area KQED:

Michael Pollan Responds to Study Finding ‘No Significant Health Benefit’ to Organic Food

September 4, 2012, 2:41 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks

You may have heard the NPR story this morning about the meta-study from Stanford University, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which  found “no significant health benefit” to organic food. As physician R Dena Bravata, the study’s co-author, told KQED Science’s Amy Standen today, when it comes to healthfulness, “there is, in general, not a robust evidence base for the difference between organic and conventional foods.”

Huh.

A 2010 Nielsen study found 76 percent of respondents bought organic because they thought it was healthier. So this seemed to merit a call to the person who convinced me in the first place that it was okay to pay $4.00 for a head of cauliflower: local journalist, professor, and food advocate Michael Pollan, whose book The Omnivore’s Dilemma was a major influence in popularizing organic and locally produced food.

Edited transcript…

JON BROOKS: So is this meta-study a big deal?

MICHAEL POLLAN: I’m not sure it’s a big deal. The media’s playing it as if there were something new here, but this is not new research, it’s a meta-study [a review of previously conducted research], and I’ve seen the exact same data analyzed in a very different direction. A lot of it depends on how you manage your assumptions and statistical method.

I think we’re kind of erecting a straw man and then knocking it down, the straw man being that the whole point of organic food is that it’s more nutritious. The whole point of organic food is that it’s more environmentally sustainable. That’s the stronger and easier case to make.

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