Natural Wine Can Learn from Natural Food

Wednesday, 23 January, 2013
Lee Schneider, Huffington Post
I can't look a chicken in the eye anymore unless I ask it first if it's free range. My family eats organic, right down to the kale. Yes, the natural food movement has changed the way we eat. We consider where our food came from, who grew or produced it, and how far it traveled to get to our plate.
Certainly -- to throw some reality-check deionized spring water on the previous paragraph - the vast majority of American eaters are slugging down sugary drinks and sucking down deep-fried McSomething every day, but what was once the fringe domain of a few tofu freaks is now mainstream. You can buy stock in Whole Foods, which took in nearly $12 billion last year, and you can buy organic at Walmart and Costco.

Authors like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman champion intelligent eating that will help us all live longer. I wonder, though, when those guys sit down to a meal with wine, do they drink organic? I'd like to think so. Laura Klein, publisher of Organic Authority, told me that people who eat organically would also be likely to drink organic, natural or sustainably-produced wine.

"It is a natural extension of their lifestyle," she wrote me in an email. "Grapes can be one of the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides, and those who want to limit their exposure to pesticides will probably want to choose wine made with grapes that are grown organically the way mother nature intended: without the use of chemical pesticides that damage the soil, environment and health of the workers that pick those grapes. In fact growers who use pesticides have to pay higher health insurance rates for their workers because of exposure."

Although you can get organic wines in Whole Foods and Trader Joes, how can you find out more about them, and who are the champions for drinking the good (organic) stuff?

Alice Feiring has campaigned for wines with "nothing added, and nothing taken away," and her book Naked Wine is a journey through the organic, natural and biodynamic vineyards of Europe and the US. Jamie Goode has worked to educate wine drinkers in his blog. Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & Francois Selections imports wines from Europe and distributes American wines in New York. Importer Edward Field of Natural Merchants gets organic wine into Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and Paolo Bonetti is an importer championing organic at Organic Vintners. Annie Arnold, of the Organic Wine Exchange, works to educate consumers and retailers and is selling chosen natural wines. (Disclosure: I am working with Annie on a natural wine PSA.)

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The Organic movement
The Organic movement

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