With all that has been happening regarding climate change, many of us are trying to be as green as we can, choosing environmentally friendly options any time we can. There is a concept called ‘healthy hedonism’ that might sound pretentious to some, but thanks to the constant growth of the awareness of the environmental disasters to which the humankind has been systematically contributing, this has become a valid option. With sustainability movements working towards this goal, one of the most important changes that have been happening in the past years is in the field of agriculture. Nowadays, organic and biodynamic farming is becoming more and more widespread. And what’s more hedonistic and healthier than having a glass of wine after a long day?
What Is Biodynamic Wine?
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” ― Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Biodynamic wines are made of grapes cultivated with agricultural practices called biodynamic. This type of farming views the farm, the garden, or the vineyard as a living organism – an ecosystem that functions as a whole. Their goal is to create a self-sustaining system. This wholesome approach to farming, gardening, food production and nutrition goes one step further, and apart of being organic, natural and ethical, it is also spiritual.
Biodynamic agriculture practices aren’t a new concept. In fact, they go back a century – started by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, in the 1920s. Viticulturalists that opt for biodynamic agriculture follow an astrological planting calendar, and fertilisation preparations.
With all chemicals fertilisers and pesticides eliminated from all the processes needed for farming the vineyards, one may say that biodynamic grapes are the true nectar of the gods. In other words, biodynamic wine helps you reap the many health benefits of wine without the danger of negative impacts on your health and the environment.
Science has confirmed the health benefits of organic farming. When it comes to biodynamic farming though, because some of the practices involved are spiritual in nature, a part of the scientific community considers this practice as dogmatic, or at least worthy of scepticism. Nevertheless, though there is a need for further studying, it has been shown that biodynamic agriculture practices have a positive environmental impact on soil quality, biodiversity and yield. And despite the lack of scientific research, wineries across the world have been increasingly adopting this approach for their wine production.
What Are the Health Benefits of Biodynamic Wine?
“[I]t is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
― Homer, The Odyssey (8th century BCE)
Wine has always had a good reputation when it comes to its impact on our overall health. And it’s undoubtedly a drink of pleasure that promotes health – when consumed moderately. This drink, often referred to as the drink of the gods – that forms a big and important part in many rituals and rites, in most of the world’s mythologies and religions –, has been famous for its healing powers since the dawn of civilisation, and thanks to science, we now know that this is not a simple folk tale.
So, organic and biodynamic wine production is better for both health and the environment. The wine made with biodynamic viticulture doesn’t contain chemical residuals from often-harmful fertilisers and pesticides, or if it does it’s in insignificant amounts. However, it’s important to point out that though all biodynamic wines are organic, not all organic wines are biodynamic.
Antioxidants, substances abundant in wine, protect your body of free radicals – unstable atoms – that can cause illnesses, such as some cancers, heart diseases, diabetes, as well as obesity, and they are believed to speed up the aging process. Furthermore, the antioxidants you’ll get by consuming wine moderately promote good heart health, by keeping your blood vessels open. They also prevent blood clots, help your body lower the level of bad cholesterol, improve your blood flow…The occasional glass of wine is also believed to have the ability to strengthen our bones and give us healthier skin, again working towards our longevity and helping us stay young.
“Either give me enough wine or leave me alone.” ― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)
Aside from the physical health benefits, moderate wine drinking is also considered to be good for our mental health. By opening up our blood vessels, and improving blood flow, antioxidants contained in wine promote good brain health. This is because according to research good blood flow to the brain protects the brain from developing dementia and other similar conditions. Furthermore, there are also studies that prove that moderate alcohol intake, especially wine, have been shown to decrease the risk of depression and similar mental health issues, such as anxiety.
On the other hand, heavy drinking, regardless of the alcoholic beverage in question, is really bad both for your mental and for your physical health. There are indications that alcohol abuse promotes mood disorders and anxieties, or has a negative impact on previously-existing mental health issues.