Organic food is becoming more and more mainstream. Though most of us are on a budget and may not be able to buy all our food organic, we’re at least aware of some differences between organic and conventional.
But drinks are a different story.
When was the last time you sought out organic liquor, beer or wine? Have you ever thought about how these drinks are made or whether they’ve been produced sustainably?
I’ll admit: I haven’t.
When I shop for beer or wine, I look for flavors I like, brands I recognize, or more than anything: what’s on sale. Until recently I never paid much attention to sustainability when it came to drinks.
But shopping for sustainably-produced beer and wine is just as important as shopping for sustainably-produced food. The same issues exist across all types of food & drink production: pesticides, excessive use of water, environmental destruction, poor treatment of workers, etc.
Luckily, finding organic and sustainably-produced beverages is getting easier. Here are a few things to look for when shopping for beer and wine.
1. SIP Certified. When a vineyard becomes SIP Certified, it commits to growing grapes and producing wine in the most sustainable way possible. This voluntary program addresses the entire production process: habitat conservation, water quality, energy efficiency, pest management and much more. Here’s a list of SIP Certified wines so you can look for them at your local market or wine shop.
2. USDA Organic. Just like with food, wine and beer can be Certified Organic. There aren’t a ton of organic wines and beers on the market, but there are getting to be more each year. Look for the green USDA Organic seal on the label.
3. Biodynamic. This is not a regulated term like organic, but biodynamic farming incorporates a lot of the same ideas and then some. Biodynamic farming views a vineyard/farm as an entire ecosystem, each part of which must be cared for and tended to. Even though this label isn’t regulated and may not be inspected by an independent third party, I still feel comfortable buying biodynamic products. If you have any doubts, visit a biodynamic farm and see for yourself how it works.
4. Sustainable. The term sustainable refers to a wide range of practices that are not only good for the planet and human health, but also for economic viability and social responsibility. Wines might get “certified” sustainable, like in the case of SIP certified, or a brand might just describe their practices on their label or website. As with anything, a visit to the vineyard or farm is a great way to see just how your drinks are produced.
(in moderation of course 🙂 )