For the Love of Organics: Grapes

“Red, red wine, stay close to meee.” UB40 had it right when they sang these catchy words.1 A charcuterie board complete with grapes and a glass of red wine in the golden light of a romantic summer’s evening is like a love letter to your heart health and beyond. So keep those green, green grapes and that red, red wine close at hand—as long as they are organic!

A Toast to Your Health

For the Love of Organics: GrapesTo shades of green, purple, and crimson—to grapes! Organic agricultural practices lean into nature’s wisdom by supporting crops in fortifying their own natural resistance mechanisms to pests and disease. This results in plants with higher nutrient density, including more vitamin C and other antioxidants. These protective compounds support the wellbeing of crops, and in turn, benefit us as well. When it comes to grapes, studies have found that organic is sweeter, with higher levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients compared to conventionally grown ones.2 3 Grapes are bursting with nutrients, including vitamins B, C, and K, potassium, manganese, lutein, quercetin, and fiber. Grapes are an especially potent source of antioxidants and are particularly famous for the resveratrol content found in their skins. Resveratrol is a heart-health supporting antioxidant that gives wine its healthy reputation, with mild to moderate consumption.4 5 6 A toast—to nature’s wisdom!

“Leave Me the Birds and the Bees, Please”7

Grapes have been on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list for many years and have made the list once again this year. As many as 90 percent of samples tested contained two or more pesticide residues.8 One of the most common sprays used in grape growing is an insecticide called imidacloprid. Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, a category of insecticide that targets insects’ central nervous system and is lethal to bees and other pollinators.9 Grapevines are self-pollinating, but honeybees like to snack on this tasty fruit, and due to the drift of chemical sprays, bee populations all around are exposed to risk of harm. Choosing organic grapes helps keep neonicotinoid sprays out of the wind and protects our bee populations.

Climate, Wine, and the Need for Change

Each sip of wine tells the story of a specific time and place where the grapes were grown. The increasing threat of climate change, though, is re-writing the stories of wines everywhere, especially in California wine country. Over the past several years we’ve seen the destruction wildfires cause, with California bearing the brunt of widespread devastation. From the burning of vineyards to smoke taint, climate change and its wildfires are deeply affecting the wine industry.10 Conventional agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, but regenerative and organic farming practices that prioritize carbon sequestration and water retention play a major role in combatting climate change, and even help mitigate the dangers of wildfires.11 12 Every choice we make counts, and choosing organic and regenerative wine and grapes helps write a cleaner, greener future. Cheers to that!

     

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    References


    1. UB40 (1983). Red, Red Wine. Written by Neil Diamond.
    2. Zahedipour, P., Asghari, M., Abdollahi, B., Alizadeh, M., & Danesh, Y. R. (2019). A comparative study on    quality attributes and physiological responses of organic and conventionally grown table grapes during cold storage. Scientia Horticulturae, 247, 86–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2018.11.077
    3. Mulero, J., Pardo, F., & Zafrilla, P. (2010). Antioxidant activity and phenolic composition of organic and conventional grapes and wines. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 23(6), 569–574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2010.05.001
    4. Pezzuto, J. M. (2008). Grapes and Human Health: A Perspective. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(16), 6777–6784. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf800898p
    5. Bertelli, A. A. A., & Das, D. K. (2009). Grapes, Wines, Resveratrol, and Heart Health. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 54(6), 468–476. https://doi.org/10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181bfaff3
    6. Unusan, N. (2020). Proanthocyanidins in grape seeds: An updated review of their health benefits and potential uses in the food industry. Journal of Functional Foods, 67, 103861. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103861
    7. Mitchell, J. (1970). Big yellow taxi. Universal Music.
    8. Environmental Working Group. (2022, April 7). EWG's 2022 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. EWG's 2022 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce | Summary. Retrieved April 2022, from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
    9. Environmental Working Group. (2022, April 7). Neonic pesticides: Banned in Europe, common on U.S. produce, lethal to bees. EWG's 2022 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce | Neonic Pesticides. Retrieved April 2022, from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/neonic-pesticides.php
    10. Boone, V. (2022, January 10). How do wildfires affect wine country? Feast and Field. Retrieved April 2022, from https://feastandfield.net/read/beverages/how-do-wildfires-affect-wine-c…
    11. Schwartz, J. D. (2019). Water in plain sight: Hope for a thirsty world. St. Martin's Press.
    12. Organic vs Conventional. Rodale Institute. (2018, December 3). https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-basics/organic-vs-conventional/.