Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bohemian: BioD Berries?

North Bay Bohemian: Biodynamic Berries (article)

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I think that the philosophical clap-trap of biodynamics is ludicrous. But discounting the negativity I might view this subject with, objectively speaking - this article has some serious problems with it.

Many of these claims attributed to the Benzigers are wild and entirely unfounded. In fact, their claims really remind me of the “snake oil” purveyors of old.

The first problem is one which runs through all the Biodynamic articles that have been written: ideas are presented as fact, with no objective proof that they are true.
Second is that these ideas (or “theories” if you will) are contrary to scientific evidence generated to date.

Let’s start with the idea “that some of the most well-known and respected winemakers in the area…open up the floors in their barreling rooms so the earth's gravitational forces can better meld with the wine's energy”…
That’s patently false. Think that a layer of concrete 4~6” deep is going to cut out gravity? NO.
In fact gravity is higher above more dense strata, and substituting a rather less dense substance such as gravel for it would lower the gravity below the barrels (theoretically – if you could measure it to that miniscule degree), not increase it.
And here’s a link to pages about gravity – with the REAL story, not some back-label clap-trap.

Color map of the SF Bay Area's Gravity (USGS)

(click pic to enlarge)

Also there’s the statement that BioD “is consistent with France's Appellation Origine Controlée, the benchmark of excellence in France.
Well, then… Whoop-di-dooo!
“So,” you say, “so what? The AOC in France hasn’t stopped that nation from putting out quite a few sub-standard wines in years past, and won’t again in the future.”

Then there’s the implied suggestion that BioD is the only way to create habitat for predatory insects, or even that BioD is a closed system – which it’s not. (If it were a closed system then there would be no wine flowing out of it, would there? Not to mention that sunlight is an input only, as are mechanical movements of soil, etc.)
Try this one on for size: “The treatments are considered homeopathic, because they "initiate the release of energy, and not matter.""
Einstein had it wrong all those years ago…and I guess the laws of conservation of energy and matter can be thrown out the window at will…

"In biodynamics, spring equinox is for bud break; summer solstice, for bloom; fall equinox, harvest; and winter solstice, the silence of dormancy."
"It's amazing how we change; we transition with the solar cycles." says Bob Benziger.
No shit Sherlock...and how is that different from any other farming method? Tried harvesting peaches in January in Napa County? It just doesn't work.
That's the default way plants grow - tied to the solar/earth seasonal cycle. In fact it's nearly impossible (other than greenhouses) to contradict that natural cycle. So what's it being brought up here for?
Non-sequitor...at best...

I've beaten the Horn Silica horse to death, but I'll say again - burying silica for a few months won't do anything...it was buried for millenia long before we got to it. But because we put it into a cow's horn...suddenly the stuff is imbued with magical properties?

Get real!

It finishes with the same repeated "wisdom" of the different plant matters used in the BioD system - yet again without a shred of evidence or reference to research.
Do Dandelions really increase photosynthesis? Chamomile stabilizes Nitrogen? How?

How stupid to just throw these statements about without any support.



Anonymous Mary Baker said...

He could have pointed out that chamomile as a soil indicator is a sign of hard crust, that it is useful in small amounts as a soil breaker, and that as it is rich in potassium and calcium it can be good for compost.
Or he could have pointed out that dandelions are a useful component in cover crops because their roots rot away into pure humus, enriching the soil, attracting earthworms, and providing downward drainage.
Wouldn't you think that before going BioD, a vineyard owner would at least learn some basics of sustainable farming? Or did he just wake up one day and decide this would be the next cool thing, and went in search of his vineyard manager. "Listen, Juan, this is what I want you to do . . ."

September 17, 2005 11:50 AM  
Blogger Huge said...

Which brings us back to the fact that we're talking about organic sustainable farming...not BioD...

...and the follow-up question which is: "Do you need BioD if you're already using organic sustainable farming?"
My answer would be "No".

Steiner asked that his followers continually test his ideas, even saying that they'd need to be re-written by each succeeding generation of thinkers. What you point out reinforces my experience - all I see is the parroting of his philosophy and lack of specifics when I talk to people following BioD...without any background information.

Ultimately, "BioD" is a tag for marketing a product as "even better than organic"...which I fundamentally don't believe it is.


September 19, 2005 9:50 AM  
Blogger VineSci said...

"Do you need BioD if you're already using organic sustainable farming?"

I am inclined to take this even further: do you even need organic certification if you are already using sustainable farming practices? I've seen recently some signs of "organically grown" and "organically produced" wine certification in Australia actually letting go of some long-held "organic beliefs" that simply do not work in the wine production practice. "Organic" production can only benefit from less ideology and from becoming more of a "label" for what is essentially a rational, environmentally sustainable, long-term oriented production. But, as my friend, an organic winemaker said, "organic wine is not about sustainability" :) (I just loved his remark)

October 05, 2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger Huge said...


You have perfectly summed up what I've been saying for the past year...look beyond the dogma to find what your practices really are doing. The voodoo clap-trap that plague both BioD and organic aren't nescessary...

Instead, realistic and pragmatic evaluations of your farming practices will lead you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the core of 'organic' proponents are as rabidly fanatic about it as are the BioD core. I've had a few conversations with a vegan friend of mine who can't think rationally anymore. It's sad, she's latched onto the 'label' without examining its beliefs and arguments.

In the end, I'll say that some pesticides may be needed from time to time, depending on the circumstances, but they should never be used indescriminately. Sustainability should be about wise choices being made, not just parroting some BioD or organic method because it's 'traditional'.

As I mentioned in a past topic... "tradition sometimes sucks."



October 06, 2005 5:50 AM  
Anonymous carol steinfeld said...

Awhile back, I visited the Benziger winery to look at its treatment wetland. I heard about the organic and biodynamic, etc. I asked Mike Benziger, who was rushing off, why he chose both. He said, I'm trying to grow a product that's as authentic to place as possible. Well, biodynamic and organic will do that. It's obvious that Mike B. is no purple-haze type and probably isn't packing ram's horns with manure himself, so, this time, I'd cut someone some slack.

January 13, 2007 3:10 PM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

Really Carol?

Did you see the huge pictures in their tasting room of him down in the trench with the horns - all the while grinnin' like a fool?
Looked like he was intimately involved with the process - or maybe he's just hoping people will assume that from the photos...making him slightly hypocritical if you take your view to it's logical conclusion, no?

Might just have been a PR shoot, but after the quotes attributed to him re gravity, filtration and wierd "rebalancing nature" type activities, I don't think he deserves much slack.


January 19, 2007 8:23 AM  

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