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13100Organic French Wine

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  • Dixie Mahy
    Apr 7, 2014
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      From Meredith McCarty <meredith@healing cuisine.com> 

Wise Woman with a Passion for Organic Wine

      Veronique Raskin invited me to join her and an associate for a wine tasting at her home last Fri. eve. Her business, The Organic Wine Company, imports organic wines from her family winery in the Languedoc region of France, as well as most of the major wine producing areas of the world: Europe, the Americas, Australia, etc. Go to www.theorganicwinecompany.com to see the full portfolio. So you’ll get to see the depth of her life’s work, here’s a synopsis of a great interview conducted by Pesticide Action Network.

      “La Bousquette has been my family’s home and vineyard since the French Revolution in 1789. After WWII, we began to use pesticides and fertilizers as did everyone else. However, in the 1970s, my grandfather, Pierre Fabre, professor of medicine at the University of Toulouse, noticed that our vines and soil were all dried up and in bad shape compared to the vineyards of one of our cousin’s whose were simply thriving. He had ‘gone organic.’ My grandfather completed the transition to organic growing by 1980. Our Bousquette red wine was the first organic wine imported and labeled as such. We are now beginning our 34th year in the business.

      “EWG (The Environmental Working Group) publishes The Dirty Dozen, a list of the 12 crops with the heaviest pesticide residues (and The Clean 15, a list of crops with the least amount of residues). Table grapes are always in The Dirty Dozen, usually in the top five or six. What people don’t realize is that wine grapes receive even heavier applications of pesticides than table grapes. Thanks to PAN (Pesticide Action Network) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), we found links showing that after Kern and Madera Counties, Sonoma was the number three county when it came to the use of pesticides. Wine grapes get sprayed with a host of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other harmful chemicals. The EPA has found 34 different pesticide residues in wine made with conventional grapes. No one has tested the combination of these chemicals for how they affect health.

      “It’s important to consider the health of vineyard workers. In 2012 the French Government officially recognized a link between commonly used pesticides in vineyards and Parkinson’s disease. The final point about organic viticulture is the health off soil, water and air. Use of chemical fertilizers depletes the nutrients in the soil, while the toxins in herbicides, fungicides and other sprays can pollute groundwater and poisons insects, birds, bees, amphibians and animals. When put into aerosol form and sprayed from airplanes, pesticide clouds can travel long distances affecting anyone who breathes. So, switching to organic methods of growing for both wine and produce is not only a sensible thing to do, it is the moral thing to do as well.

      “Let’s focus on the positive: Modern organic growing methods are capable of producing enough food for the world’s population—depending of course on getting that population stabilized. Organic growing methods fix nitrogen in the soil, restore watersheds and animal populations, and are being shown to play a role in helping to stabilize climate chaos. Organic methods also require more human hands to be involved and fewer machines—think of the employment potential!

      “Organic wines compete on price very well with conventional wines. Unlike the produce market, where an organic tomato can be up to twice as expensive as a conventional tomato, organic wines are highly competitive with conventional wines when it comes to price.

      “My brother, Dr. Michel Ginoulhac, seeded the gathering of the Millesime Bio Fair at the kitchen table of my house in France 21 years ago. Now there are more than 800 producers from 12 different countries who come together every year in Jan. The trade fair attracts wholesale merchants, brokers, retail wine merchants, sommeliers, hospitality-industry professionals, and importers from across five continents. I don’t know of anything comparable happening in the US.”

      Thanks for your good work, Veronique!

      Source: “PAN in conversation with Veronique Raskin,” Pesticide Action Network, www.panna.org/pan-conversation-veronique-raskin

      Recipe: Springtime Miso Soup with Nettles, Daikon & Maiitake Mushrooms