Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Another Biodynamic post

This comment appeared recently on a biodynamic (BioD) post of mine from January...

Anonymous said...
I am as skeptical as the next person when I hear about burying horns and the like, but I think it is wrong of you to completely discredit it based on your own personal "hunch" that it is a bunch of hocus-pocus.

How arrogant of me! Oh, wait - aren't the proponents doing exactly that in reverse?

A lot of how the world works is still a mystery, and I kind of like it that way.
Good for you. Go wander the world blindly if you feel so inclined...

I buy biodynamic wine and organic wine because I like knowing that care and attention went into how they are made.
How many times do I need to state this? You don't need some new age voodoo system to decide quality...all you need is your tongue. BioD is not an assurance of quality...it's a philosophy relating to man's place in the universe. You should be buying ISO9000+ wines if you're looking for care and attention...

Even then, those protocols aren't so much about quality as they are about accountability and paperwork, right? So you're still left out in the cold...

Demeter only certifies 12 wineries in California, so is this really such a huge marketing movement? Many wineries don't even list their organic or biodynamic status on the label. How does that fit into your argument?
Rest assured that those wineries leverage (market) that fact to the hilt when it suits them. And I'm sure from the conversations I've had with BioD producers (as well as interviews of them) that many of them truly believe in the system, and are trying to effect a positive change in how they farm.
One reason many of the products which are produced via BioD or even organically aren't labeled as such is that Joe Consumer may have a negative perception of products that carry those tags. Certainly, there are many of us who look at it as a form of voodoo/withcraft/sympathetic magic...

I also question your reasoning as far as the blooming flowers since the moon's pull would probably be different based on which side of the earth it happened to be on. I understand that flowers respond to day and night, warm and cold etc., but these are the main influences on everything. I believe there are other, subtler, influences like the moon that work below our awareness, perhaps like human pheremones, which were previously not acknowledged, but are now widely accepted.
(...this last part is in response to an example I used to disprove another person's statement that fortnight lilies all bloom at the same time...those fortnight lilies would then all have to bloom at the same time in both Greenland and Cancun, Mexico for that to be true...which they don't, incidentally. Perhaps a better example might be the Yukon Territory and Cancun, instead of Greenland.)
Yes. Those are the main influences.

The Moon? I can see the tidal effects of our moon, those are based on its proximity & mass (gravitational effect). But it would be hard to assume that there are other properties of the Moon which somehow affect quartz (a fairly inert and insoluble mineral) or manure (especially when it's buried in the ground).
Further, merely stirring water into opposing vortices for an hour doesn't impart magical peoperties to it either...
There are legion other reasons to doubt BioD, and no one yet has been able to provide proof it does anything more than regular organic farming.
What the proponents have not acknowledged is that the onus of proving BioD rests with them - and they continue to fail to demonstrate any solid proof.

Dear [anonymous], if you haven't already read Joly's book, get it at the library and read it. (Link to my review of that work.) If you have read Joly's book and you're still making these statements...well, there's probably not much common ground we'll find on this subject.

My BioD posts (only some) which you may find interesting: BioD - Santeria of viticulture, Bennett Valley vineyard experiment, Roger Voss BioD article...



Blogger adam mahler said...


I am a huge skeptic, no pun intended. I have had lengthy discussions about Steiner, and I just can't believe that all of these processes work, except, I actually think they might. There are hundreds of growers and vintners in California that are working with biodynamics. All of the the voodoo in the middle is probably irrelevant. I believe that the health of the soil greatly impacts the quality of wine grapes. That said, it is impossible to determine which, if any steps, in biodynamics, actually helps. But the bottom line is: and you are absolutely correct about this, is the quality in the glass. I went to Oregon Pinot Camp last year, and I discovered that most Willamette Valley producers are organic. They aren't interested in certification because of the red tape and the commitments that it forces. The reason they said they are doing it, is not out of consiousness, but because the grapes are better when farmed organically. Biodynamics can't make or break a wine, it should be used just like a barrel program or canopy management. It is just another fcator in the quality of the grapes.

August 24, 2005 8:27 AM  
Blogger Huge said...

Go ahead and use the pun, that's why it's there...!

Anyway, a good point, and one I touched on as well a few months ago in my JPhelps BioD post.
Many growers are using parts of BioD, but leaving the voodoo out.
Personally, there needs to be some solid proof that something's going to work before I get up at 2:30 AM to dance naked under the moonlight of the Full Flower Moon in April, if you catch my drift. (just joking - I'm not sure if that's a constraint of BioD or not...) Otherwise it's just wasted effort and energy that could've been better utilized somewhere else.

If that (BioD w/o voodoo) leads us to improvements in sustainability and organic farming, then there will be some long term benefits. Healthy soil is paramount to good viticulture as you observe.

And as you point out, certification, which can be a great talking point for your PR department, is largely useless from the vineyardists viewpoint. Many great viticulturists can use organic methods w/o being certified...and the certification is not the point - the improvement in quality farming is. It's good to hear that's how their approaching it in Oregon.

Thanks for weighing in.

August 25, 2005 10:18 AM  
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