Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bio with your Neighbor

In France, organic wine is called "biodynamique" or just "bio." Growers use various methods, including the addition of compost & manure, microorganisms, and teas of certain steeped ground-up plants applied at key moments. Some allow weeds to grow under the vines and think this helps the soil maintain its natural balance; others follow the cycles of the moon and the relative positions of the zodiac. Hey, why not if it makes great wine? The goal of all of this is to "encourage the natural rhythm of the vines" and of course to allow the soil to be truly alive. Certification rules apply if you want to call yourself "bio."
In Burgundy, the growers we know take it one step further: what's the point of going "bio" if your neighbor is pumping and spraying pesticides and chemical fertilizers on their vines? My lens was not crooked in this photo; the "cote" of Beaune is steep, and if it rains, you can imagine that you might get some runoff from your neighbor up the hill. And the parcels are of course packed together, so if you spray, your neighbor gets your drift, so to speak.
So, what they do is get together with their neighbors and agree that either all of us in this little area are going to be bio, or we can't make it work.
So where am I going with this post? Well, of course I am always ready to share interesting vignettes of France, but more importantly, there was an article in the Register about a national report on beach water quality by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has Laguna scoring in the top tier.
My point is: isn't a good score in Laguna diminished if your neighbor (e.g. Doheney down the coast) is chronically one of the worst? E-coli anyone? Ear infections? Gastro problems? We each take care of our little corner of the world, of course, but in the end our actions relative to each other and the global picture also matter....

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