Organic and Biodynamic Trail

POD 3: Why choose Organic?

  1. For your health:
  • for more beneficial elements. For example, anti-oxidants like resveratrol are higher in organic and even higher in biodynamic products
  • to avoid pesticide residues. Systemic pesticides give you cancer, nervous system disruption and endocrine disruption
  1. For the environment:
  • to protect the water, air, soil, flora and fauna where the farming is done
  • for the people growing your food/drink and those living where it is grown
  1. For the taste:

Why Choose Organic? A few enlightening facts

Key facts to back up why choose organic wine

A large study of wine by French consumer watchdog magazine Que Choisir found pesticide residues were on average more than 300 times the amount allowed in our drinking water. One wine registered a massive 3364 times the amount allowed in our water. A major and well known multi-million bottle brand of Bordeaux red registered 14 different pesticides including one banned in France for more than ten years.

The only way to be sure you are not consuming systemic pesticides, which cannot be washed or peeled off, is to buy certified organic or to grow your own organic produce.

According to ANSES (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) vineyards consume 20% of the pesticides sold in France but they only represent 3.7% of the farmed land. France is the largest user of herbicides in Europe and the second largest consumer of pesticides after Spain. In 2016 France used 72000 tons of pesticides, representing 20% of the pesticides used in the EU relative to 14% of the EU agricultural surface area.

What you eat and drink is a political act. You vote for the world you want with every purchase you make.

Wine is for pleasure, it should not be poisoning our earth, water and air for future generations. Read on for more detailed information below. You can also read our blog post on growth in herbicide use and its dangers.

1. For your health

As stated above there are three main reasons to choose organic – for your health, for the environment and for the taste. Let’s consider the first part of that, for your health, with organic you receive more beneficial elements and you avoid pesticide residues.

More beneficial elements including anti-oxidants

Organic products have more positive health elements, higher levels of anti-oxidants like resveratrol, in the case of wine. This is because the plant creates the anti-oxidants when it is attacked. If it is treated with systemics it will not be attacked and will not create these beneficial antioxidants. Read Caro’s second book Saving our Skins for more on this subject.

Choose organic to avoid systemic pesticide residues

Grapes farmed with pesticides will have pesticide residues in them. There are three direct effects of systemic pesticides on human health: cancer, nervous system disruption and endocrine-disruption. Read on for the details below.

For your health: facts and research

For your health: research on pesticides and health

Grapes farmed with pesticides will have pesticide residues in them. There are three direct effects of systemic pesticides on human health: cancer, nervous system disruption and endocrine-disruption.

Cancer – many systemic pesticides are proven carcinogens, that is, they create cancer

Systemic pesticides are not products can give you a little rash – they are seriously dangerous – in 2011 a wine farmer died of cancer after getting pesticide in his face. The cancer rate in a school surrounded by conventional vineyards that is 5 times national average rate of cancer.

For detailed research related to cancer and pesticides see 
Systemic pesticides are proven to generate nervous system disruption

Systemic pesticides can generate nervous system disruption including diseases like alzheimers, parkinsons, motor-neuron disease, autism.

For detailed research on pestcides and nervous system disruption see  
Systemic pesticides are also endocrine disrupters

Systemic Pesticides mess with hormones and reproductive capability increasing fertility problems and the risk of cancer related to reproductive parts eg prostate and breast cancer. For a list of research into endocrine disruption and pesticides  and see science direct for more on reproductive disruption.

Systemic pesticides are highly toxic, many state that you should not enter the field where the pesticide was sprayed for 24 to 48 hours after its use.

Our focus on this biodynamic trail is on wine, but it is not just wine. ‘Que choisir’ the consumer watchdog magazine did a study of muesli and found pesticide residues in all non-organic brands including those that communicate about loving bees and being nature friendly.

2. For the environment

As stated above there are three main reasons to choose organic – for your health, for the environment and for the taste. Here we consider the second part for the environment.

For the environment: more than the birds and the bees

After three years of organic farming the wild orchids came back into the vineyards at Chateau Feely. This is because the systemic fungicides had worked their way out of the soil and the mycorrizea had returned. We will talk more about biodiversity and the environment in POD 5 on Winegrowing.

But environment is not only orchids, birds and bees, it is also about farmers, farm workers, schools nearby and people living nearby. What happens to systemic chemicals and herbicides sprayed on land? They end up in the soil, in water sources, in the air we breathe and in the product being grown.

Your choice of farming method affects:

  • the health of the people that live nearby and the workers on the farm
  • water quality for the local communities
  • biodiversity
  • long term sustainability

For your environment: more facts

For the environment: facts

From the health section above you can see that environment is also about the people – the people working in the vineyards, living near the vineyards, the schools surrounded by vineyards. It is also key to the fauna and flora.

Between 1998 and 2008 France abandoned close to 400 water capture zones destined for human consumption per year , largely due to unacceptable levels of agricultural chemicals.

92% of Frances water courses are polluted by pesticides. Read more in our article on growth in herbicide use and its dangers.

In France one third of all bird species disappeared in the last 15 years largely attributed to pesticides.

3. For the taste

Taste is very personal but there is proof that taste is better with organic wine and even more so with biodynamic wine.

An EU funded long term research project comparing conventional, organic and biodynamic viticulture is at Geisenheim university in Germany compared 2 hectares of conventional, 2 hectares of organic and 2 hectares of biodynamic Riesling vines. In their blind taste tests over  ten years biodynamic came first, organic second and the conventional chemically farmed wine came last.

Wines farmed naturally have higher natural acidity and this brings a vibrancy, length and an element of ‘relief’ – almost like a hilly landscape compared to a flat one.

The most expensive wine in the world is organic and biodynamic – Domaine Romanee Conti – as are many other top wineries. They know that natural farming is the way to truly great taste – it cannot be faked.

The taste of pesticides

Pesticide residues affect the taste of a wine. Find out how to pick up the taste of pesticide residues in our blog post on the subject.

Reasons to choose organic: conclusion

Reasons to choose organic: conclusion

Buying organic shows that you value your health, that you respect the people growing your food and drink and those living where it is grown as well as caring for the long term health of the soil, water and air, all key to our long term health on this planet. See our blog flow on why organic for our latest information.

Continue your voyage through our biodynamic trail with POD 4 Biodynamics.

We invite you to come and learn more about organic farming with a visit to Chateau Feely in South West France ; stay with us or do a multi day course or multi day tour . You can read about the story of our organic farm the series includes three books Grape ExpectationsSaving our Skins and Glass Half Full by Caro Feely. See our top ten reasons to pat yourself on the back when you support organic farming.

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