A selection of articles that caught our attention:
Colonial Gardens - May 2023
Some of the most recognized garden plants and flowers are here only as a result of colonialism. The tulip is a good example - found growing wild in China, exported to Turkey, and eventually hybridized and commercialized by the Dutch.
Growing Biodynamically In Washington State - May 2023
Three (out of 1,000) wineries are Demeter certified: Hedges Family Estate and Domaine Magdalena, both on Red Mountain, and Wilridge Winery in Naches Heights in Yakima. The owners feel very much the same way we do. Let's hope it catches on.
Ultra Processed People - May 2023
Matt Galloway of the CBC interviews UK physician Chris van Tulleken about the dangers of ultra-processed foods. More than sugary drinks or snacks, Chris describes what happened when he focused his diet on ultra-processed foods.
Changing Minds About Food - Nov 2020
Seems like we've forgotten the food supply chain lesson we learned during lockdown. As agricultural and greenbelt land is taken away in favour of suburban housing developments, there is less and less concern about growing food locally. But what do we do when there's a disruption to our foreign food sources?
What Is A Standard Drink Size? - Feb 2023
Who knew it would be so different around the world.
Bill Redelmeier, CBC Radio - Jan 2023
Endangered Foods - Jan 2023
"Of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly grows and consumes only nine, of which just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide about 50% of all calories humans consume. Add potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar to the mix, and you have 75% of all the calories. But diversity within these crops is also disappearing, as we rely on an ever-smaller number of high-yielding varieties."
Time To Act On Saving Our Insects - Jan 2023
"[Neonicotinoids] have wiped out bees, butterflies, beetles, and most other creatures they touch, leaving its residue in everything from baby food to onions to our drinking water. The poison continues to mount, layer by applied layer. U.S. agricultural land is now 48 times more toxic than it was 30 years ago, according to one study."
A Future Without Ice Cream? - Sep 2022
Alfalfa makes up about half of a dairy cow's diet and it's a water-hungry plant. So why is so much alfafa being grown in drought-afflicted areas like the southwest United States where the future of water for agriculture isn't looking so good?
Bordeaux's Small Growers Suffer - Dec 2022
What happens when the bulk wine market dries up and small growers cannot find buyers for their grapes?
Lettuce Shortage - But Not In Ontario (sort of...) - Nov 2022
"If Canada wants to continue to have a stable, affordable supply of lettuce through the winter...we'd better start figuring out how to grow more of it ourselves."
Dangerous Herbicide, Paraquat, Still Being Used Despite Link To Parkinsons - Oct 2022
Again, a big corporation ignores their own internal research and subverts attempts to label this chemical as dangerous. And yes, it is still allowed to be used in Canada.
Bill in the News - Oct 2022
Climate change and the impact of the Jan 22 cold snap.
Southbrook in the Globe & Mail - Organic Week Sep 2022
Shameless self-promotion - but hopefully a good read, nonetheless!
In Search Of - Eco-Friendly Closures - Seven-Fifty Daily Aug 2022
It's very difficult to find a cork or capsule that doesn't have an environmental impact.
Extinction of the American Farmer - Paso Rables Press July 2022
"The small family farm was once the cover story of the American dream. But today, American farms are dying left and right, and American farmers are on their way to extinction — and arguably at a faster rate here in California."
Drought, withdrawal of water rights and financial issues meant that 400,000 acres of agricultural land was left unplanted. That's an economic cost of $1.1B USD and almost 9,000 jobs.
Insectides Are Killing The Planet - July 2022
A documentary explaining how the insect biomass has declined by 75% since the 1990's. Available in several languages - check the top right of the video's page to select your preferred language.
Gastropod: Monsanto - May 2022
Quite possibly the most interesting podcast we've heard this year.
Niagara Vineyards Damaged - The Lake Report June 2022
We feel you.
Climate Change Affecting The Taste Of Wine - Knowable Magazine June 2022
Wine is a careful balance of acidity, fruit and alcohol. See how global weather patterns are changing the flavours of wine.
Is Sustainability Recession-Proof - Wine Business Intelligence June 2022
Yes and no. No surprise - a wine must be priced according to its value. Long-term, sustainability will be an important factor for as it gains traction across all manufacturing segments.
Climate Changing The Menu - The Conversation May 2022
Warmer ocean temperatures are changing the local fish available at restaurants in Canada. More details here.
Urban Ecology Lets A City Sweat - The Conversation April 2022
Planting gardens in the city reduces the temperature, improves air quality and reduces run-off.
Insects Do A Lot Of Work - The Conversation April 2022
This says it all, "In fact, the future and sustainability of food production depends very much on having many different species of pollinating insects. Their critical importance, however, has long been overlooked in favour of promoting and supporting the honeybee industry."
Cover Crops In Vineyards Sequester Carbon - Elsevier Science April 2022
No surprise that cover crops sequester carbon, but this study quantifies how much is stored under the vines. Worth noting that this is a primary principle of biodynamics and it's something we've been doing since we came to Niagara over 15 years ago. The study says, "We found that cover crop-managed soil under-vine sequesters up to 23% more soil organic carbon (SOC) as the traditional, herbicide practice over a five-year period of growth. Microbial activity increased by more than double in cover crop soils, owing to an increase in DOC and that there is evidence for more resistant C in cover crop soils." Cool!
Teaching Kids The Benefits Of Pesticides - Vice News March 2022
The American Farm Bureau Foundation For Agriculture is publishing books targeted to elementary school children that demonstrate the 'positives' of using pesticides and synthetic fertilizer - no surprise that their Board includes members from Bayer, Pioneer and Nestle Purina.
How It's Possible That Round-Up Is Ok For Sustainable Farming in Chile (it's not!) - March 2022
One of Bill's favourite Organic/Biodynamic wineries, Emiliana, stands up for Organics.
What Is 'Natural' Wine, Really? - Vinepair March 2022
"Language — biodynamic farming practices, fermentation without added yeast or sugar, and a lack of filtration, some believe the introduction of minimal sulfites is still considered “natural.” Others maintain that only zero-zero wines deserve the distinction. It’s this dispute that has ushered in the use of “low-intervention,” a term that acknowledges a light touch from the winemaker to stabilize flavor, but fundamentally lacks clear definition."
Monoculture And Water Use - EcoFarm Conference Recap March 2022
A transcript Mark from Arax's EcoFarm Keynote on Monoculture and Misusing Water–"We've Got to Find Our Way Back to a Better Agriculture." Interesting history of agriculture in California and how the response to drought in the early 1900s created an issue that resonates to this day.
Grape Growing In Texas May Be Over Due To Pesticides - Texas Monthly Feb 2022
"A toxic herbicide used in cotton fields is devastating vineyards on the High Plains, endangering the state’s $13 billion wine business. Grape growers have banded together to fight back."
Forever Chemicals Enter The Food Supply In Michigan - The Guardian Feb 2022
Ugh! Sewage sludge is not supposed to be used as a fertilizer in or near places where food is grown because it is full of things we don't want in our food. Forever chemicals, not surprisingly, are being found everywhere and they increase the risk of cancer, birth defects and have an impact on our immune systems. Forever chemicals, or more specifically PFAs (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), are found in products where waterproof and non-stick qualities are a feature - teflon pans, makeup, wrappers for fast-food, Gore-Tex, etc.
Rethinking What It Means For Wine To Be Vegan - Pix Jan 2022
Vegan generally has meant food that has not exploited animals. In this article, the writer notes that vegan wine should stand for more than a no egg-whites policy. What about machine harvesting that mechanically removes bird nests and small animals? What about pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that harm bees and reduce biodiversity?
Fire-Fighting Goats - WSJ Jan 2020 ($)
Hungry goats are being bussed to areas in NSW, Australia, where they will clear (eat) woody weeds and hard to clear vegetation. These goats work rain or shine and are incredibly efficient.
"Scott Stewart, a farmer and volunteer firefighter at Coolatai, another trial site, has been impressed with the goats and thinks they could have a future in helping to prevent fires from breaking out. Goats have a reputation for eating things that other animals, including cows and sheep, won’t. Goats also love to climb, and can reach up more than 6 feet by standing on their hind legs to eat tasty gum tree leaves or even pull over entire saplings.
Authorities believe the trials could be expanded in coming months based on preliminary results, which build on evidence from places such as California, Spain and Portugal, where the animals sometimes help with hazard reduction burns."
If you can't see this story because of the paywall, take a look at this: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/12/goats-are-the-best-tool-grazers-in-high-demand-to-reduce-us-wildfire-risk
The Problem With Some Cashews - Slow Food 2020
As we sat here at the winery munching away on cashews, we thought about the environmental and human aspects of harvesting. It was a reminder to check the source of the foods we eat!
TLDR: The shell of the cashew nut contains anacardic acid that can burn. Not all suppliers provide protective gloves or fair pay.
“Burns are a fact of life for up to 500,000 workers in India’s cashew industry, nearly all women. They are employed without contracts, with no guarantee of steady income, no pension or holiday pay. Many don’t even get gloves, and if they did, they probably couldn’t afford to wear them. Gloves would slow their shelling down, and they are paid by the kilo.”
Agro-forestry To Grow Better Grapes And Combat Climate Change - Earth Island Journal Jun 2020
TLDR: Planting trees between the vines can aid by providing shade, acting as a windbreak, and creating a micro-climate that might improve the quality of the grapes.
Plants Need Birds - Scientific American Jan 2022
Climate change is causing birds and mammals to move away from their normal habitats, but what happens to the plants that depended on them for seed dispersal? Loss of biodiversity is a problem for plants that can't just pack up and go.
"For decades scientists have been tracking which birds and other animals eat fruits and the seeds they contain, how far those seeds are transported and whether they germinate wherever they are deposited. These are what ecologists call mutualistic interactions. “The animal gets some fruit, and the plant gets to move,” Fricke explains."
Wine Can Be Intimidating - Yahoo News Jan 2022
Should you follow wine etiquette? Apparently eight out of ten people do not. Good to hear! Wine should be a joy.
"When it comes to where they drink, unconventional locations topped the list, with 43% enjoying wine in bed and 30% while taking a bath. Drinking wine on the beach was another favorite among 42% of respondents."
Vineyards Dumping Chemicals in Pest Battle - From Wine Searcher Jan 12, 2022
TLDR - climate change is pushing viticulturalists to look at new ways of controlling pests. This article looks at using fans to dry grapes, teas (like our biodynamic preps), and increasing biodiversity to improve the soil biome.
Data Point: "In the US alone, about 1 billion pounds of pesticide is applied to control weeds, insects and other pests, according to the US Department of the Interior.... According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, in 2018, 30,345,692 pounds of chemical pesticide landed on vineyards just in the Golden State, with 637,000 planted acres getting hit."
Wines In Niagara Reviews Southbrook - Jan 3, 2022
Rick VanSickle tries our 2019 Estate Reds and really enjoys our Poetica Red.
Food Matrices - Jan 2022
TLDR - there's a big difference between eating a whole almond than an almond that's been ground up - actually, there are about 30% more calories in the ground up almond.
Data Point: "Studies show that eating butter causes a rise in blood cholesterol, especially LDL or the ‘bad’ kind. However, eating hard cheese that contains the same amount of fat and has a similar fatty acid composition as butter can cause a much smaller rise in blood cholesterol levels, no rise at all or even a fall."
Preserving Grapes Using Kangina - March 2021
Afghans use an ancient method to preserve grapes for eating in the winter. Still fresh after six months. Amazing.
Are You Allergic To Wine? - 2018
Sulfites, histamines, tannins - probably not these culprits, if you can eat dried fruit, aged cheese and drink tea.
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