dinner with pesticide

Posted by Andrew Yandell on

grapes don't get washed before crush? woah.

while you can wash conventional produce before you eat it, it's too late to wash your wine grapes. grapes are picked and crushed and fermented into wine straight off the vine. 

if it's in the vineyard, it's on grapes and concentrated in wine. simple as that. poisonous vineyard treatments are in conventional wines in measurable quantities, no matter how expensive or well-rated they are.

these residual pesticides often cause adverse effects when consumed, and can manifest like a sulphur sensitivity through headache, itching, swelling, and reddening.  More on that here.

every bottle of conventionally farmed wine sampled in a widely cited Pesticide Action Network (PAN) study contained pesticides at a level of 230 times the legal limit for drinking water. half of those pesticides were known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and reproductive toxins. none of the organically farmed wines contained pesticide residues.

although the “wine headaches” they cause are reason enough to avoid them, some will point out that the concentrations of pesticides in those bottles won't cause serious immediate and observable harm to the drinking public. that's the same blinkered logic that led the trump administration to prohibit epidemiological research in EPA assessments of agrochemical safety with the backing of dow chemical and other agrochemical behemoths through their lobbying groups, just months after the EPA established a framework for incorporating the data.

carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and reproductive toxins are pernicious, causing damage gradually in ways that can be difficult to quantify in the short term. this is where epidemiology is useful. according to the cdc, epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states in specified populations "with sound methods of scientific inquiry at its foundation."

agrochemical companies are hostile to epidemiology and prefer to use their own studies. as you might guess, studies of poisons funded by the chemical companies selling them generally find they have no direct impact on human health, like syngenta's study of atrazine or dow chemical's study of chlorpyrifos that have always informed american agrochemical regulatory policy. to keep the ball in their court and discredit sound research conducted by reputable universities like Columbia and UC Berkeley, big chem has resorted to bullying techniques once used by big tobacco. under the guise of "transparency," they demand data that would compromise the identities of the people involved in the studies and therefore the integrity of those studies in order for those studies to be used with a darkly cynical catch-22 style logic. the fight is ongoing, but recent rulings like this one point to progress. in the meantime, I'll trust the universities and steer clear of the chemicals.

mancozeb, vinclozolin, glyphosate, malathion, and just recently banned (August 2021) chlorpyrifos are some of commonly used pesticides in conventional vineyards. grapes don't wash, and all the vineyard chemicals used to treat them end up in their wine. people unwittingly drink these poisons when they open a romantic bottle if it happened to come from a vineyard where they were used, or even just groundwater near the vineyard. 

stressful stuff.  the good news is, choosing certified organic makes it easy to be safe.  relax, join the club, and drink good juice with us.

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