WHY IS UCCE PROMOTING BIODYNAMIC FARMING?

On December 2nd there will be a “Shortcourse on Biodynamic Farming” at the Rutherford Grange Hall, Rutherford, Napa Valley.  What has made me spitting-mad is that the event is being sponsored by both Demeter USA and the Napa CountyUniversity of California, Cooperative Extension (UCCE). 

Two speakers are employees of Demeter USA—the Executive Director and the Marketing Director—three Biodynamic consultants, 11 wineries that farm Biodynamically, one organic farmer along with two UC Cooperative Extension Folks—Dr. Monica Cooper, Director and Farm Advisor for Napa County and Glenn McGourty, Farm Advisor for Mendocino County.  With seventeen out of 20 speakers directly involved with Biodynamics, this is clearly a marketing, promotional and sales event by Demeter USA, with no pretense of a balanced program.  No one is supporting conventional or sustainable agriculture and no one is presenting an alternative viewpoint to Biodynamics.  This is not a balanced presentation and UCCE should not be a sponsor.

 It would be ethical for UCCE to sponsor an event that discussed the various farming paradigms, a compare and contrast if you will, that would include advocates for all the various methods of farming.   I see no issue with UCCE agents, scientists or Farm Advisors attending any Biodynamic sponsored event. However, being a speaker or panel member at this event is essentially an endorsement of Biodynamics—-remembering that the entire program is devoted to Biodynamics. 

On November 7, I sent an email (see below) to Dr. Monica Cooper and Glenn McGourty. I copied Dr. Andy Waterhouse, of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, and forwarded a copy to Dan Dooley, Vice-President of UC Agriculture and Natural Resource, which is the controlling agency for the Cooperative Extension. 

What are your thoughts?  I’ll share what the responses have been with my next post.

Stuart Smith

Email addressed to: Monica Cooper and Glenn McGourty, 

“I am shocked and outraged that UCCE is sponsoring the “Shortcourse in Biodynamic Winegrowing” to be held on December 2 at the Rutherford Grange Hall. I am requesting that UCCE withdraw its support from the event and that you cancel your appearances. 

 Why and when did UC Davis and UCCE begin promoting Biodynamic farming?  You are being used by a private company (it doesn’t matter that they are a non-profit), Demeter USA, to gain respectability, promote its message and to recruit clients for Biodynamic farming.  Your support gives Biodynamic farming the credibility that it doesn’t have otherwise.  It is entirely appropriate for you to attend such an event, questionable as to your participation and completely wrong to sponsor/host and thus become a promoter of Biodynamics.  Clearly this event is intended to be a promotional sales event for Demeter USA.  Biodynamics is trade-marked by Demeter and all money required for certification flows into Demeter’s bank accounts.  Following a link from the UCCE website I found the fact sheet for the event that claimed “You’ll get a practical hype-free introduction to Biodynamic principles and practices for framing and winemaking from experienced vintners who have put them to the test” and yet hype is all that Biodynamics is – there is not one shred of evidence, one peer-reviewed replicable experiment proving the efficacy of Biodynamic farming!  I know many of the speakers and all they can muster for proof is an anecdotal “I know it works, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”    Ed Weber and I had many conversations about just this type of Biodynamics hype and I have no doubt that he would be as horrified as I am that UC Davis and UCCE has any involvement with this program. 

The UCCE website lists a Mission Statement and above that in large and bold type is “Bringing UC research to Napa County” – so let me ask, what UC research do you have that supports Biodynamic farming?  Have you read Rudolf Steiner’s book AGRICULTURE, do you know that he hated modern science and that he created the concept of “Spiritual Science” which cannot be challenged and is based on intuition and perception?  I created biodynamicsisahoax.com  to provide an alternative view to Rudolf Steiner and Biodynamic farming. 

 Biodynamics is the antithesis of what the Department of Viticulture and Enology has stood for since its creation by the California State Legislature in 1880.   I had the good fortune to have had Dr. Winkler sign my General Viticulture textbook.  I studied under professors such as Lloyd Lider, Jim Cook, Harold Olmo and Mark Kliewer. I was the Department’s first teaching Assistant for Professors Amerine and Singleton.  The California premium wine industry has gone from a tiny industry 60-70 years ago to world pre-eminence because the industry ignored European reliance on tradition and embraced science.  U.C. Davis, staffed with scientists, did the basic scientific research to find the truths of Enology and Viticulture. They used science and the scientific method to test old assumptions and new theories and then offered up their results for peer review. They taught their students what they had learned in their research and as importantly they taught their students how to think critically and evaluate research. California wine quality soared.  Your support for Biodynamic farming is a repudiation of everything the Department has stood for during these last 130 years. 

 How do you reconcile the following quote by Rudolf Steiner and the UCCE’s fundamental role of continuing education to industry professionals of the “scientific principles” that underlie growing grapes? 

The following are direct quotes from Steiner’s book AGRICULTURE, page 128, lecture six, on disease control, originally given on June 14, 1924:

         “Let us assume, however, that the Moon’s influence is too strong, that the soil is overly enlivened.  In this case, the vitality works up too strongly from below, and something that should occur only in seed formation starts to happen earlier.  When the vitality is too strong, it doesn’t reach all the way to the top; its very intensity makes it start working lower down.  Thus, because of the effect of the Moon, there is insufficient force for seed formation.  The seed incorporates a kind of dying like into itself, and through this dying life a kind of second ground-level is formed above the level of the soil.  Although there is no actual soil up there, the same influences are present.  As a result, the seed, or the upper part of the plant, becomes a kind of soil for other organisms.  Parasites and all kinds of fungi appear – blights and mildews and the like…  Direct perception reveals what I have just described.”

         “So what should we do now?  We need to relieve the soil of the excessive lunar force; we need to find some way of reducing the water’s mediating capacity, of giving the soil more earthiness of the water that is present does not absorb the excess lunar influence.  We accomplish this – though outwardly everything remains the same – by making a fairly concentrated tea out of Equisetum arvense, which we then dilute and use as a kind of liquid manure on the fields where we want to combat blight and similar plant diseases.”

 DISCUSSION FOLLOWING LECTURE SIX, page 134:

 QUESTION: “Can these methods for alleviating plant diseases be applied to vineyards too?

STEINER: “I can only say that I am convinced that the vineyards could have been protected (from Phylloxera devastation) if people had gone about it in the way I have indicated.”

QUESTION:  ‘What about downy mildew?”

STEINER: “That can be treated just like any other blight.”

 When you support/promote a course in Biodynamics you are also validating the foundations of Biodynamics which, in this case, are the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.  Please minimize the damage you have already done and immediately withdraw your involvement with this project. 

I look forward to your response.”

 Stuart Smith

 CC: Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, Chairman, Department of Viticulture and Enology.

51 Responses to WHY IS UCCE PROMOTING BIODYNAMIC FARMING?

  1. Henry says:

    Hi Stu

    Global pre-eminence? I took it to mean above all others. It made you sound like a Bond villain.

    Would be interesting to speak to former BD types who gave it up, such as Selosse in Champagne, and ask them for their views.

    Will be reading you further.

    Henry

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Henry,
      Thanks for not lumping me in with all the bad guys and for the hot tip on Selosse – don’t know a thing about them, but will do my best to look into them. Some months ago a very articulate NZ winegrower made several comments about what a disaster he experienced with farming Biodynamically – he was very negative toward it.
      Stu

  2. Henry says:

    Hullo

    I really enjoy this site and think that biodynamics is not subjected to rigorous scrutiny by those, wine journalists, whose job it is to do so. However with statements such as ‘The California premium wine industry has gone from a tiny industry 60-70 years ago to world pre-eminence because the industry ignored European reliance on tradition and embraced science.’, you are alienating your supporters. Yes California makes some nice wines but global pre-eminence? This is just divisive and ridiculous and makes you sound as dogmatic as the people you criticise. A little humour and modesty would make your (very valid) point better.

    Henry

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Henry,
      Thanks for your support for my alternative view on Biodynamics. On the other hand, you take umbrage with my use of “word pre-eminence” for the current California wine industry. On my first reading of your comment, I thought I might have mis-used “world pre-eminence,” yet on double checking the meaning I think I’m on safe ground. What I meant to convey is that California wines went from a small provincial industry with little to no word recognition to an industry that has a worldwide reputation for quality wines. Pre-eminence, IMHO, means outstanding, not “the Best” as I think you took it to mean. I think, I hope, that we’re on the same page.
      Stu

  3. Lucius Columella says:

    I’d just like to state that as a vineyard manager I want nothing to do with either biodynamic nutjobs or UC Davis grads.

    I’ve worked with both. The BD guys are generally too stoned to actually do good work, or are so cynical that they embrace obvious bullshittery in order to jump on some trend. Hey, I’ve done BD farming, and the way its done and certified by that nest of hippies at Demeter USA isn’t at all in keeping with the true message of biodynamics, which is to create a closed organism and incorporate livestock into your farming practices. Instead, you’re encouraged to just farm organically, skip raising your own livestock and buy the “preparations” from some place in Virginia that ships over tiny little amounts in plastic bags.

    Regarding Davis…

    The majority of UCD grads have outsized egos and rely on the science written by those with no practical experience. In my decade of experience it’s best to keep UC Davis grads as far away from the vineyard as possible. It’s great that UC Davis is doing the research that it does. But the recently anointed graduates with their degrees and their self-assuredness are generally the most insufferable pricks anyone in production will ever deal with.

    That isn’t to say that studying the science is an impediment to doing good work. It’s just that the work done in the vineyard is best learned by doing the work with those people who’ve done it humbly and with an open mind for years, not just by studying diagrams in textbooks.

    So in between BD and Davis, I choose neither. I choose to let the vines and their wine tell me what to do. Is BD a hoax? Absolutely. Are most Davis grads assholes? You bet.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Lucius,
      As Butch said to the Sundance Kid (or close) “Don’t sugarcoat it kid, tell it like it is.”
      Stu

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Stu, having three daughters, you know my father’s angst well. I, too, have three daughters, so I was paid back threefold for what I did to my poor old man. I think calling me “Jo” gave him comfort, but that’s about all the comfort he got, because I am who I am… a good sport. You guessed it. (He had no sense of humor. I actually tried to tell him a few jokes on his death bed, thinking it would be fun to finally have a good laugh together. I didn’t work, but I’m still chuckling.)

    And Raquel started her career as the weather person in San Diego — many years ago…. Who knew. I was too busy in the Maine woods gardening.

    Thanks for your insights. I’m most taken with Considera’s comments and recommendations. (I think this person is your match.) I get lost in those concepts, and wish I had command of Considera’s concepts and language. This conversation is not my area of expertise, and I think I need to start reading move about this and less about wine for a while.

    Also, sorry for the two apostrophe typos (in my response to you). I noticed them after I hit post. I hate when that happens. I have an editor in my day job, for moments like that with my work.

    Be well… You’ve found your niche.

  5. Daniel Roberts says:

    I have been confounded about RS since I read his writings in college. i thought he was on mushrooms to be so demented.

    Arguing with biodynamic growers is similar to arguing with religious fanatics, pointless. I have tried.

    I agree with you its a hoax but many do biodynamics for marketing. I have good friends who believe in these practices and I accept that they can believe in what they want.

    But I find it offensive that extension agents who we pay for with our taxes should be allowed to sponsor a biodynamic meeting.

  6. Hey Stu,

    Love your posts and the discussions that come from it. I was wondering if you have tackled the “bottling or racking according to the phase of the moon” question? I notice a lot of wineries, BD and not, seem to be bottling at times of the month that are in some way tied to the lunar cycles.

    Is it just the simple argument that the pull of the moon during certain phases and times of year helps settle the lees out of the wine, making them clearer? Or is it more complicated.

    Thanks for any response and if you have no info, maybe you can point me in a direction of research on the subject and not just testimonial based hearsay?

    Cheers.

    Justin

  7. Isotope says:

    Considera,

    I must thank you for my mid-day laugh, it was a boisterous one when I saw your list of peer reviewed literature. “Cosmic Wisdom Publishing”?!?!?!?!?! Not exactly peer-reviewed perhaps.

    Are you even remotely aware of how much schooling is required for people to conduct science successfully? What you have collected, on your URL, is what one in science would call a trash heap. It’s a bunch of loosely connected articles, many with single authors who have no laboratory web-page like whoever this Enzo Nastati is, and ample abstract articles that likely were never published because there were no novel findings.

    Why are you people so freaking obsessed with your soil? It just astounds me that you people don’t buy a microscope and look at the bizzare micro-biota of the average vinifera fermentation. Two different pinot noir grapes, when you eat the raw fruit taste basically the same, sure there are some differences, but the bacteria and yeast are the ones that create flavor during the fermentation.

    10 But it’s the soil
    20 goto 10. (Wash rinse repeat)

    What I find so interesting is that within your website you refer to the Barnum Principle…

    Congratulations Considera, you are officially what P.T. Barnum loved at his circus. A sucker, one who likely bothered to pay for some of those rag publications from people who were so confident in their hypothesis that they didn’t bother to publish in a scientific journal. Either that or you are trying to make suckers of the consumer, with claims of spiritually endowed energy wine.

    How come no one has made energy wine? Now that they are attacking four-loco and probably next, sparks, someone could really fill the void with taurine and caffeinated wine. Mmm.

    Leave the science to the scientists, and contact your local AG extension person like any normal farmer.

    • Considera says:

      My pleasure. Laugh it up Isotope.
      I thought I was bringing in a respectful level of debate here by indicating some actual investigation of the phenomena pertinent to biodynamics. Because BD is not a mainstream practice the literature comes both from those without institutional recognition and, if you look just a tiny bit harder, from peer-reviewed literature published in respectable journals. I am happy to have both in my trash heap – thanks for the technical term – because there are actually very few givens or orthodoxies in the scientific scrutiny of BD. It is at a stage of ferment and I would not like to leave out the work of anyone just because, for instance, they were a mere patent clerk. Within this spread of opinions and approaches there may be some in BD who are caught in your loop, but if you presume this is accurate for all who are interested to evaluate BD I would have to disagree.

    • Jason says:

      Considera, aside from the snarky nature of anonymous comments on a blog site, Isotope is right. “Research” does have a rigorous meaning and unless it’s done properly, it amounts to nothing more than a rationalization of one’s own biases. That’s why “peer-reviewed” is such a popular buzz word these days.

      You’re also pointing to the fact that university research has not targeted BD practices and using this point to justify looking at other research You can’t do that. University research also hasn’t looked into whether the moon is made of cheese or not. So should we give credence to the inevitable few that believe it and point to their own research?

      This is the same rationale that Intelligent Design proponents are using to justify teaching it in school – that because some believe in it then it demands just as much respect as other perspectives. It doesn’t work like that. Credible research always comes slowly, that’s the nature of it. If a phenomenon can be described my mechanisms other than that which is previously believed to be at work, then the truth will eventually come out, a little bit at a time. When the bits and pieces can’t be denied by rational people, then that’s when the the phenomenon is given research money and university focus.

      BD hasn’t reached that point yet. I and other scientifically-minded people are open to the possibility that there are mechanisms to how the universe works that haven’t been elucidated yet. But until we have a reason to believe, then BD is really no different than Scientology.

    • Isotope says:

      Hey Jason, I assure you I’m snarky regardless of being online or not. It’s from dealing with mind-numbingly dumb people for enough years.

      Thanks for making a good response though, you basically sum up all of the points regarding research credibility.

      My lab gets money to do research. We research cancer. Cancer is real, and tumors are real and death is real. And many people will be affected by premature death due to cancer.

      Biodynamic energy is not likely real. Biodynamic energy is not currently provable or disprovable (things that don’t exist are notorious for being in this state). Biodynamics sounds incredibly silly, compared to the known universe. A person with a degree in biology or chemistry would treat biodynamics with the same credibility of a diagnosis from a witch-doctor.

      If there is finite grant money, which there is, which should we fund? I think it is quite obvious.

      The sad part is that some public funding has already been wasted on such lunacy.

      I’m not horrified that UC Davis and UCCE would have something to do with this. They don’t teach real science to their graduates anyway, otherwise archaic terms like “Titratable Acidity” and countless other trade terms that have real scientific terms wouldn’t be retained. Wine technology is in the dark ages, and it seems like it is going backwards.

    • Jason says:

      Isotope, good to see you are keeping all of us (I’m a winemaker) on our toes. I agree that there is a dismal degree of scientific knowledge/perspective in many winemakers. However, understand that is not so much the fault of the winemakers themselves as much as the people that hire them. Once owners understand that winemaking should be considered like any other professional endeavor, then more professionals (instead of “artists”) will be sought.

      But here’s the point I wanted to make. I’m a UC Davis graduate, from the V&E dep’t. “Real science” is most definitely taught there, but winemaking in the industry is not considered a “real science,” so much of what is taught is not reinforced after graduation. I think this is common in related industries (e.g. agricultural engineering) where the demands of the industry aren’t necessarily scientific ones. Winemakers are often managers and logistics coordinators. This doesn’t mean that science should take a back seat to other concerns, but we’re not dealing with life and death issues either, and scientific understanding often becomes de-prioritized.

      The V&E dep’t at Davis is caught between a rock and hard place because the industry thinks it should act more as a trade school, whereas the Univ. of CA charter defines the institution as one where pure research is a main priority. This does happen, even in the V&E dep’t, but the research goals are sometimes only tangentially related to wine industry goals. I think they do a decent job of balancing pure and industry related needs, though.

      The real issue is more philosophical, does the industry benefit more when the issues are tackled by scientists or by “artists.” Well, scientists for sure. But I don’t think the industry is ready to handle that yet.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Jason,
      Well said! I’m in total agreement.
      Stu

    • @Jason,

      “The real issue is more philosophical, does the industry benefit more when the issues are tackled by scientists or by “artists.” Well, scientists for sure. But I don’t think the industry is ready to handle that yet.”

      Curious which issues you think are better left to the scientists when it comes to wine. If you define artists as BioD practitioners then I agree, full stop. If, however, you expand the definition all the way to intuitive winemakers, or those who run trails and tests without the controls a peer reviewed piece of research would require, I’m off the train.

      Using that artistic component of the craft as a lazy excuse for not doing your job is pants. So is using “art” as an excuse to not be curious. All other things equal, a winemaker with a better technical background will be superior, but things seldom are. Marketing, management, sales and most everything else is more art than science, and winemakers and especially proprietor/winemakers have to have a hand in most all of it, and be good at each of them, to be successful.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my underpants in dynamized water.

    • Isotope says:

      “I agree that there is a dismal degree of scientific knowledge/perspective in many winemakers.”

      I know for the folks that believe that the entire process of wine creation is magical art project that my following idea may indeed be considered heresy. Perhaps it is time to have a staff scientist as a routine member of a winery. Might not have to be full-time, but someone who has the perspective that is sorely needed in the industry. This person should be highly respected, educated, and have a degree in chemistry or microbiology. Their pay should be in line with other academic professionals. I see job postings constantly that are looking for a lab technician, and not a staff chemist/microbiologist. The perspective is gained through a degree not from UC Davis. That is part of the problem, you don’t gain insight from everyone studying the same thing.

      The individual in question should be noted on the label of the wine. As you say in your post, the winemaker is a manager, and in my experience, sometimes does little more than tell others what they want done to a given lot of wine. I agree that at a certain size of winery they will no longer have as much time to do the hardest part which is understanding how a problem occurs, how to fix an existing problem, or how to prevent problems, especially relating to chemistry and microbiology.

      Too often the science side is considered secondary or a luxury for larger wineries. Imagine the amount of time and money wasted on the various biodynamic preparations, or certifications were spent on understanding why and how things work. Possibly then customers wouldn’t end up with such a mixed bag when it comes to wine quality at the retail end.

    • Jason says:

      Josh, what you said. When I say “science,” I’m simply referring to a perspective. One that attempts to explain the universe in rational ways. Most of us are “scientists” already in that the way we formulate predictions is based on what we’ve experienced in the past. “Trial and error” is one common way that we “do” science. In winemaking, most winemakers do this, though not in an ideal way. One very common example of un-ideal science that may winemakers perform is the experiment that doesn’t isolate all the variables. But this can be very difficult to do in a winery setting simply because a winery is set up to make wine and not perform experiments. But this is excusable because attitude and the correct perspective is 90% of doing “science” anyway. This kind of soft-core science generates the “bits and pieces” of evidence that hard-core scientists (university researchers) can use as a starting point for further study.

      But to answer your question in a more direct way, let me give you an example. I once worked at a winery in Europe in which the very old, traditional explanation for the onset of malolactic fermentation was “the south wind.” My bogus detector immediately went off. We now know from research performed at UC Davis many years ago that it’s bacteria that is responsible for malolactic fermentation. It had been suspected for a long time this it was microbial in nature, but no one knew the exact causative agent. Now, if you know anything about this critter, you know that it is extremely fastidious. In fact, it requires relatively warm temperatures for there to be any activity at all. In Europe, malolactic fermentation won’t happen until the alcoholic fermentation is complete, usually this occurs around the time the weather turns cool. So the onset of the “south wind” (warm) was a correct observation, though ultimately not the absolute correct one (the bacteria were there all along). Now we buy pure bacteria culture and inoculate immediately after alcoholic fermentation, get the wine through ML in a timely manner, all w/o waiting for the “south wind.” Getting all this done in a timely manner is critical in avoiding spoilage. Scientists were responsible for this, but even the “intuitive” winemakers have cultured bacteria in their freezer. They add it when no one is looking.

      Now I might disagree with you about whether marketing and sales is more “art” than science, but I think I know what you mean. To me if you know where to look and you look hard enough (i.e. demographics) then you can glean data points that steer your business plan. This to me is “science” because you’re using objective data, though I think many others would call it an art. Semantics.

  8. The UCCE can ethically endorse and participate in whatever popular agricultural practices are being employed by their community.
    Their involvement will lead to more scientific research and development.
    What other programs do the UCCE currently sponsor? They have been researching and ‘endorsing’ every other kind of agricultural practice organic or not since inception. That is what they do. They ask questions, and answer them with research. When they compare and contrast various the efficacies of chemical agricultural products is THAT ethical? Does that mean they are endorsing big-brand chemical companies?
    Calm down, the UCCE are not the poster-children of the BD revolution. This is no threat to ‘science’. It might just be a threat to chemical farming though.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      TheWatertrough,

      Would you have the same attitude if UCCE sponsored similar events for Madam Vadoo, reader of palms, Astrology or Homeopathic medicine?

      My issue is the sponsorship and partnering with a private company selling a product of questionable worth. The UCCE folks can attend all the promotional events they want, ask any and all questions without financially sponsoring evey new idea on the block. UCCE’s mandate is to bring University research to professionals in the field, not get used in a marketing scheme.

      Instead of Demeter using UCCE by partnering with them, why doesn’t Demeter fund Davis research into the efficacy of Biodynamic farming?
      Stu

  9. Mr. Smith, as a wine professional (30+ years) not directly involved in the wine production industry except as a reporter and buyer, I’m afraid that from the outside looking in, it is you, rather than BD followers, who comes across as a single minded dupe. I would also suggest that it was ignorance of long held European “traditions” (as you put it) in favor of your “science” that had held back the California wine industry for many, many years.

    There was a time, for instance, when natural yeasts and barrel fermentation were considered quaint European customs, and vintners came out of the UC Davis system convinced that stainless steel tanks and cultured yeasts were the obviously superior methodologies. Today, after years of continuous experimentation, many vintners have concluded the opposite. Does that mean that what they now practice is the “antithesis” of University of California science?

    I am not saying that investigation of Biodynamic preparations is the same thing as inquiries into barrel and natural yeast fermentation (it’s not). But I am saying that, based upon what the industry has already repeatedly experienced in the recent past, dismissal of older or “traditional” practices simply because they don’t exactly square with current scientific thinking seems to be more of the path of ignorance. Or to put it another way: things that are ignored only at your own peril.

    Personally (again as an outsider looking in), I know that fantastic (and fantastically successful) wines are being produced by conventional, the various sustainable, organic and, even, Biodynamic means. Where’s the “hoax” if the pudding is already there? If one were to continuously denounce one method or another, who is the one demonstrating a close mindedness that could be detrimental to the industry?

    I say: good on the University of California for continuing research into *all* possible ways of improving quality (from conventional to BD). Obviously, this act does not constitute an “endorsement” of Biodynamic practices; it simply represents an opportunity for interested parties to investigate practices that might possibly benefit their products. If that’s the case, why do you insist on continuing this unseemly, rabid, single minded rant?

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Randy,
      It’s great that you have been in the biz for 30 years. Unfortunately, you’ve only read the wine appreciation magazines that fawn over vintners spewing spin so you’ll buy their wine! There are many of us who are educated, experienced and knowledgeable, but it seems those aren’t credentials that have meaning to you. There are many similar to yourself and that is very frustrating to many of us.

      Please elaborate on how science held back the California wine industry? Maybe Winkler (do you know who he was?) shouldn’t have considered that various regions of the state had differing micro-climates and shouldn’t have created degree days and separated the state into the various climate regions in use today? Maybe the Davis professors shouldn’t have considered an alternative use to concrete or wood fermenters so that so much California wine wouldn’t spoil? Maybe we should still have our vineyards turn that beautiful red color in the fall, instead of getting rid of Leaf Roll virus. Maybe Kas shouldn’t have worked so hard to establish the Foundation Plant Material Services. Then there were Berg and Amerine who….but you don’t know of them either. We agree that you don’t know much about winegrowing, but that doesn’t stop you from believing the nonsense that comes from some wannabe expert who doesn’t know a Kloeckera from a cerevcisiae.

      Ask yourself, if you had a life or death illness would you go to one of the greatest hospitals in the United States or would you go to a practitioner of homeopathic medicine?

      Because I believe that Biodynamics is on the same level as homeopathic medicine I believe it is wrong for the University to sponsor a Biodynamic promotional event. There it is in a nutshell, Science vs. Biodynamics – your choice.
      Stu

    • Clearly, Mr. Smith, you did not read my comment carefully, as I stated that many of the world’s great wines are grown and produced through diverse means, from conventional to Biodynamic, from hardcore “science” to methods eschewing science for distinctly unscientific, traditional or seat-of-the-pants methodology.

      Instead, you deign to resort to sarcastic remarks (like, “do you know who Winkler was?”), not knowing that longtime professionals like me, who started in the business in the mid-seventies, knows full well who Dr. Winkler is, and has always appreciated and respected his body of work as well as that of many of the distinguished deans of University of California. If anything, your remarks demonstrate your own willful ignorance. Then again, disrespect for other people’s experiences is your schtick, isn’t it?

      Of course, science has not “held back” the California wine industry. I cited just two of many historic examples, however, of how the science taught at UC Davis contradicted purportedly unscientific “traditions” (i.e. barrel and natural yeast fermentations) that were later found to constitute perfectly sound principles. I could cite more examples, but what would be the point? The real point is much simpler: it just makes sense to leave room for investigation of alternative approaches; especially those that have been “proven” on the basis of tried-and-true field observation as opposed to laboratory testing.

      For the record: my own observations are not based upon what I read in “wine appreciation” magazines. We must have something in common: I don’t read them because I don’t automatically buy into what journalists put down on paper. However, I do take the time to walk through the vineyards and wineries with respected vintners up and down the Coast and around the world. You see, it’s my full time job to do so. Many of them follow conventional or sustainable practices, and quite of few of them are sold on organic and even Biodynamic methods. Frankly, I don’t give a damn how they do it: as long as it results in better grapes, and better, more affordable wines. If so, I’m happy, they’re happy, wine drinkers are happy.

      What I do give a damn about is willful ignorance; and it seems to me that by condemming the lot of colleagues who are inquisitive enough to consider alternative approaches, it is you rather than them who is clearly demonstrating ignorance.

      It’s almost hilarious that you cite homeopathic vs. “science” based medicine as your “proof.” Medical science has always entailed scientific analysis of substances available through the natural world. It is done in laboratories, of course, but the substances studied are drawn from the same sources studied by homeopathic practicioners. It makes sense to bring scientific study to what obviously works well in Biodynamic agriculture, just as it makes sense to study substances commonly used in homeopathic practices in laboratories of medical science. That’s how medicine is advanced.

      Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. It’s a good thing the University of California is venturing on without you!

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Randy,
      I read your comment several times and then again and it’s very clear that you chastised and denigrated Davis for the science “that had held back the California wine industry for many, many years.” I disagree with you and tried to point out that Davis is responsible for bringing the California wine industry out of the dark days of Prohibition into being an international heavy weight contender. I’m glad you are familiar with Dr. Winkler, but I believe your judgment of the School’s history is flat out wrong.

      Today’s wine industry is dominated by a bunch of little wineries, but it hasn’t always been that way. There was no industry 77 years ago, there were no equipment, suppliers, veterans or knowledge. When I first attended Davis in 1969 Repeal was only 36 short years ago, 75% of the wine industry was dessert and Port wines and the premium wine industry was a tiny fraction of the table wine business. I think I’m correct in remembering Wente Brothers owned 25% of all the Chardonnay vineyards in California at that time – 80 acres!

      After much collaboration with Davis, Fred McCrea started Stony Hill Winery (1952?) and used barrels to ferment his Chardonnay. Where do you get the notion that Davis was dismissive of that practice? With premium wine selling for several dollars per bottle, there were not many wineries that could afford such an expensive practice. BTW, several of those early vintages of Stony Hill had to be re-bottled because the “knowledge and skill” was lacking. In 1975 I first started experimenting with natural yeast fermentations with our Pinot noir – we called it a “Bronco” fermentation because it was “wild.” After many years we abandoned it and Pinot noir in the mid 1980s because we weren’t happy with the results. I have yet to see any studies that show “wild” yeast fermentations produce better wine than cultured yeasts. Can you discern in blind tastings wines that have been fermented with wild yeast vs. cultured yeast?

      You claim the real point of your comment is that I am closed-minded to alternative approaches, that in fact, I am “willfully ignorant,” especially to those issues which have been proven on field observations. If you’re referring to casual field observations that so many unschooled wannabe experts are using today than you’re right. I won’t use Entav clone 337 or any uncertified grapevine material, narrow spacing is a horrible waste of resources and I think it’s wrong to have fruiting wires 18 inches off the ground. I think it’s stupid to use de-invigorating rootstocks and then water the piss out of them and it’s really stupid to pull all the leaves in the fruiting zone. Physiological maturity, hang-time and predicting great vintages before harvest are all bunk.

      I wish I was still ignorant (willful or not) of Rudolf Steiner and Demeter owning Biodynamic farming, but unfortunately, after many outlandish claims by their practitioners I looked into the subject matter, read Steiner, spoke with knowledgeable individuals and came to the inescapable conclusion that Steiner was a fraud and Biodynamics is a hoax. Field observations that “Biodynamics works, I’ve seen it with my own eyes” means absolutely nothing to me and they shouldn’t to any critical thinker.
      Stu

    • Jason says:

      Randy, you’re using circular logic here. “…many vintners have concluded the opposite.” So what? How did they arrive at their conclusion? That makes all the difference in the world and unless it was using the scientific method then their conclusions should be held with as much regard as a monkey’s. Intuition has a remarkably unreliable track record. Good results are meaningless too (think correlation/causation that was taught to you in high school).

      Also, you’re wrong about your notion of barrel fermentation and natural yeasts. Barrel fermentation has always been very popular among high-end Chardonnay producers, and those producers do utilize stainless steel. And “natural” yeast fermentation is largely a myth. The research has been done but very few in this industry care to know about it. (We’re all using the same species yeast whether the ferm was inoculated or not).

      Unfortunately, this industry is rife with “experts” who have little to no understanding of science or the realities of the processes at work in the vineyard or in the cellar. But they spout off just the same. People will believe what they want to believe. Fine. But realize it is nothing more than wishful thinking.

      It’s ironic how we all utilize the scientific method in our day-to-day lives and also put our confidence in those that do as well (doctors, engineers, etc) but many of us suspend this perspective when it comes to food and wine. Why? Let me ask you this: would you rather drive over a bridge designed by an engineer or a philosopher? So why do you not believe the scientists when it comes to agriculture?

    • Jason,, your memory obviously does not stretch back very far: barrel fermentation was not, as you say, “always” popular among Chardonnay producers. There was a time, in the fifties and sixties, when barrel fermentation in California was generally considered unsound, and stainless steel was considered the obvious choice. It wasn’t until the seventies that barrel fermentation became more fully understood; and now, of course, it is embraced as another standard practice.

      But the simple point is: it took a number of vintners took look beyond what they were taught at UC Davis for the industry to reach that point.

      Jason, your own expertise begs commentary. Your point about natural yeast being a “myth,” for instance: what air are your breathing? The wine world doesn’t revolve around the West Coast. If perfectly good, and often great, wine can be made in cellars around the world that have never seen a package of cultured yeast, does that mean “natural” yeast doesn’t exist? Wine was made, may I remind you, before your, and Louis Pasteur’s, lifetime.

      Of course, longtime wine professionals like me appreciate the science that goes into viticulture and winemaking. Many of us also appreciate wines made through means found to be tried-and-true through “other” means. Proof, as they always say, is in the pudding, and there is lotsa of great pudding out there, if you care to embrace it!

    • Jason says:

      Randy, I want to refrain from being snarky here and I hope you take this constructively. I’m a professional winemaker and a UCD V&E graduate with many, many years of experience (I say this to remain anonymous because my thoughts are less than popular). Unless you share the same credentials then your opinions don’t have equal weight. I don’t mean this to be snappy, but it is a statement of fact.

      Many in your position perform biased research, meaning that what you learn comes from non-random sources. For example, when you learn about BD, do you seek out proponents of it, or do you seek out disinterested third parties? I’m guessing your information comes from those that actively practice it. This is not objective research and any data obtained cannot be used to support a conclusion.

      IF you were really interested in facts, do some literature searches for yourself. Don’t take it from me, but look for yourself and you will see, for example, that “natural” yeast is a misnomer. The “natural” fermentation is nothing more than uninoculated. The yeast that eventually takes over a fermentation is none other than the exact same species that comes from a package. Yes I know it’s disappointing. But it’s true and the research has been done for years. But it’s more romantic to say that you’re “hands off” and you “let the terroir define the wine instead of the hand of the winemaker.” This is just popular rhetoric that is perpetuated by the uninformed. This industry is littered with romantic myths such as these. Come on, be a true renaissance man and learn the facts, they’re out there if you so desire. The truth is much more attractive than myth and rhetoric, even if unpopular.

      Next, I take it that you were never a student at UCD. That being the case how would you know what is taught there? Did you know, for example, that they make a point of saying that they do “not” teach winemaking, that the student must go out and work hands-on jobs at real wineries? What they do teach are the scientific principles that underlie the processes in the industry. It’s up to the student to take that in innovative directions. Some will indeed be innovative, and some will simply support a traditional methods.

      Lastly, you made a point about the proof being “in the pudding.” Again, rhetoric. This is simply not the case. There are a hundred and one decisions that go into a well-made wine. Why assume that any one of those decisions was more responsible than any other? Was is BD potion 500 that was the magic ticket, or was it the 18 months in barrel? A truth-seeker would want to know how to weigh those decisions. Here’s a tip, when a winery’s best fruit is chosen to be processed under BD guidelines, my money’s on the fact that their best fruit was used rather than the yarrow blossoms as reason it turned out so good. What do you think?

    • @Jason

      First, I agree with much of what you’ve written in this thread. Don’t want to give the wrong impression. Couple things though:

      Ravenswood does most their fermentations with native yeast and a few years back Constellation hired a geneticist to study the species mix in a variety of active ferments, over several years. What they found was that various yeast effectively tag-teamed the ferment, with one dominating at certain sugar levels. Typically three different yeast took a turn in the dominant position. Interestingly, the type and mix of yeast each vintage was different, even in an environment where a single dominant strain would have been expected to have taken up residence.

      When this information came to my attention I had the same mindset as you: all the literature shows that natural ferments are a misnomer. Hearing it straight from Joel opened my eyes. This is private research, of course. It was not published and one may question the rigor (though I don’t). I relay it simply to caution against writing off native ferments altogether.

      Second, though I don’t doubt your credentials, you have to admit it is pretty silly to trot them out when you are posting anonymously to a blog where they can neither be disputed or verified. It’s especially ironic given the nature of the discussion.🙂

      Prost!

  10. Jo Diaz says:

    Native American’s did really well by using biodynamic methods… They were much closer to the earth, moon, sun, and stars… their cycles their and magnetic pulls.

    My father’s ambulance service was full of loonies during full moon cycles, as were the jails and mental institutions ~ as told to him when he’d drop off patients that had gone off the deep end during phases of the moon. This is widely known within the medical, social services, and criminal divisions of our private and governmental agencies.

    Have a great time ranting, and I’ll have a great time applauding. It keeps us both busy.

    That’s why there’s chocolate (scientific), and that’s why there’s vanilla (intuitive). It keeps the world in balance and not falling off its axis.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Jo,
      Native Americans never used Biodynamic farming methods because they didn’t exist until Rudolf Steiner invented them in 1924. Did Native Americans bury cow horns so that the cosmic forces could be channeled into the earth? Did the Sioux or Cheyenne believe in Preparation 500 “A cow has horns in order to send the formative astral-etheric forces back into its digestive system, so that much work can be accomplished there by means of these radiations from the horns and hoofs. So you see, there is something inherent in a horn that makes it well-suited for reflecting living and astral influences back into the activity of the interior. In a horn you have something that can radiate life, and even astrality.” Please!

      Maybe the native Americans used preparation 501 “horn Silica?” I wonder if they stirred it fast enough “until a crater forms that reaches nearly to the bottom … Then you reverse directions quickly, so that everything seethes … for an hour…” I assume that the Native Americans could calculate how long an hour was by watching the arc of the sun – right?

      Jo, please! Primitive man did not have the pleasure of watching Raquel Welch tell them it was going to rain the next day or that the first major winter storm was arriving in four days. Yes, primitive man was closer to the soil because that’s all there was in his life – he was a subsistence farmer – nothing more and nothing less.

      Lastly, Native Americans were hunter gathers, NOT farmers!
      Stu

    • Jo Diaz says:

      Stu,

      Great response, because you brought me up to date on a lot, including the father of biodynamic farming, and more of its practices than I knew before. Seems like there’s a lot of esoteric beliefs involved.

      I had to chuckle, though, because your tone sounded more like my father’s than an educator’s… after reading your creds yesterday, I was very impressed. I’m thinking that’s because you’re sick-to-death of saying something over-and-over again, versus my father just being sick-to-death of having too many daughters. ;^) Thanks.

      I just watched a PBS special about the Pilgrim’s settling of the US. Native Americans played a major role in this program, as you can imagine. It was they who taught early settlers how to grow corn for sustenance, so I’m not so sure (given the lush growing conditions of the East Coast, versus the plains Native American’s) that all Native American’s where hunters/gatherers.

      So now, you can go back to watching Raquel Welch and her weather report. I didn’t realize she had a segment.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Jo,
      You’re a good sport. Most people read the Demeter website and think “how wonderful” without realizing the wackiness that is Rudolf Steiner as its founder. Yes, native americans did grow crops, but I don’t think their culture would be considered “agricultural.” Maybe I’m mistaken or maybe the subject matter is too large and varied to generalize. I have three daughters!

      Raquel started her career as the weather person in San Diego — many years ago.
      Stu

    • Jacobo Borja says:

      I was wondering, why, if byodinamics is the panacea of agriculture methods, it was not until scientific knowledge came through that world famine DID end. There was an era in agronomy that is called “the blood, sweat and tears era”. Humans do not want that era to come back. It is easy to speak loud and write without knoweledge, specially when your stomach is full, ´cause there is plenty of food all year round on the next corner. One thing is to farm vines, that are very rustic plants and easy to grow, and another to grow a really big crop with outstanding quality grapes year in year out. That was winkler´s goal. And science means obtaining answers to questions, so as not to lay in uncertainty. And these answers have to be demonstrated and duplicated everywhere in the world (which means by any given condition). And yes, yeasts have had the ability to ferment sugar (and produce alcohol as a by product) before man notice it (but i don´t think that any of us would appreciate ancient greek wine). And of course, philosofers always wanted to explain the world with words (remember the stupid ideas that aristhoteles wrote about genetic inheritance). We live in the XXI century, the century of the biology revolution, let´s not fool ourselves with stupid ideas held by philosofers like steiner (it was 200 years ago that was demonstrated that plants do not eat soil organic matter; remember that german guy called justus von liebig and the 1896 homestead act, led by one of his students) or lamarck ideas.
      As you all guess, I am not an english spoken native, but rather one of the most respected agricultural engineers.
      Do not forget that if you haven´t seen how the wine was made and how the grapes were grown, you’ll never know if they really used byodinamic principles or not.
      The only thing that make me laugh really loud is hearing byodinamics farmers talking about energy, when they don´t even know thermodinamyc laws, not to mention they don´t understand what relativity is all about. (i wonder if they could ever make a For…Next statment in visual basic)
      Best regards to all of you!, and don´t forget to try the obscure godello grape.

    • Jacobo Borja says:

      Stu, I do not know you personally, but my best regards go in advance for this fantastic blog webpage maintenance.
      Remember, there is an article in American Journal of Viticulture and Enology (ajev if you prefer) where organic Vs bydonamic soil managment was assesed, as well as wine quality produce from both sites. Very interesting conclusions.
      Yoy may have alreayd read it.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Jacobo,
      Thank you for your comments, they are a pleasure to read and put a big smile on my face. Your english is just fine and I agree with ever word you wrote. I do know about the 2005 Journal article and wrote about it on my July 18 “Organic vs. Biodynamic” post. My site isn’t as well organized as I would like, but if you keep scrolling down you will come to it.
      Thank you again,
      Stu

  11. Stu,

    I received an email from the organic growers group in Sonoma County about this event last month and wrote it off. I was a little nonplussed that the group would use their marketing asset, and my personal information, to help out Demeter but I let it slide. I had no idea that UCCE was sponsoring the event. Completely unacceptable.

    I’m now considering attending and filming any Q&A (since it is a quasi-public event there should be no problem). I hope to pose a few thoughtful, respectful, but skeptical questions to various members of the panel. If you would like, I’d love buy your ticket. You’re far more familiar with the outlandish claims Steiner made in his writings than I am.

    I think a mini documentary of practitioners having legitimate questions posed to them along with their answers would be enlightening for any grower interested in the issues surrounding Biodynamics.

    josh@pinotblogger.com if you’re interested.

  12. GeneFiorot says:

    What’s all the fuss? Aren’t you used to Whack Jobs yet in CA? The rest of the county is quite familiar with them from your state.

  13. David says:

    Next year I am going to farm by using Scientotlogy. Tom Cruise thinks it will make better wine.

  14. Bill Dyer says:

    A client who is attracted by Biodynamics and would like me to be less skeptical about it forwarded the invitation for the December 2 conference and asked if I would attend it. Like you, Stu, I was very surprised to see the University of California listed as a co-sponsor. It certainly lends an aura (!) of legitimacy to the event. I will attend with as open a mind as I can, and will be especially interested in whether any evidence-based knowledge is presented.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Bill,
      I’m conflicted about attending. If it was just a Demeter event than I would stay away. My attendence would be an unwarranted disruption and an intrusion into their business affairs. In that it is sponsored by UCCE I’m tempted to attend, but then I’m outraged that they are sponsoring it. Also, after a long and difficult harvest I’m just not sure how much I can take of “I know it works, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes” BS.

      Monica Cooper is giving a talk about pest management, IPM and the such. She is intentionally not speaking about any synthetic pesicides, which I find intellectually disturbing. Glenn McGourty is refusing to respond to my emails, so I don’t know the subject of his talk.
      Stu

  15. Tedd Wildman says:

    Stu. I support your efforts. Do you travel and speak? I have would like to see you at the Washington Injustry/Growers(WAWGG)Convention one of these years. The Biodam faithfull in Walla Walla and elsewhere need some food for thought, I think. Please contact me if you are interested.

    Tedd

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Tedd,
      Jim Holmes reached out to me this summer so I’m booked for the Feb. 2011 WAG convention. I think it’s a debate like format – should be fun and I’m looking forward to it and meeting you.
      Thanks,
      Stu

  16. Andy says:

    I think overall people are pretty nonplussed by BD on the assumption of “whats the harm?”. And, since there is “no harm”, whats the big deal about doing it, talking about it and having UCD support it? TO me, BD is like Scientology–despite the fact that it is clearly made up, some people swear by it and who knows, maybe it has really helped. But nobody is going to get worked up until evidence of harm is shown (like in Scientology, the eggregious amount of money that people waste)

    So, besides the abandonment of the scientific principle and the slippery slope where that leads, I think you should discuss with UCD the harm of BD and not just remind them of the conflict of interest.

    As an aside, I love your blog (being a scientist myself) and I defended it in another BD blog on the Spectator !!(http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/43933#submit)

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Andy,
      Thank you for all you’ve done on my behalf. To me Biodynamics is the poster child for a larger anti-science movement in American. A good example of the harm are the many, many people that won’t vaccinate their children because of their un-shakeable belief that vaccinations cause autiism.
      Stu

  17. Considera says:

    If that’s your genuine opinion and if this is really a conundrum you’d like to crack, I suggest a thoughtful reading of some or all of ‘Truth and Science’, ‘An Epistemology Implicit in Goethe’s World View’, ‘Goethe The Scientist’, and ‘Philosophy of Freedom’ – all by RS – and see if his ‘objective idealism’ is a valid ‘paradigm’. If he doesn’t manage to bring you along with him in those books then there is no way that you could or should go along with any of his later works such as the Agriculture lectures. If what he wrote in those books seems valid to you then perhaps you will understand his issues with the present scientific orthodoxies – not with Science and the scientific process – the roots of which he identified in the 1880’s and 90’s. None of this would compel you to believe in BD incidentally. I agree that BD has to prove itself in the field.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Mark/Considera,
      What can you say to convince me that Steiner wasn’t a fraud when I point to his patently false statements about the Atlanteans and their seed-germinating powered airships?

      How do you square Steiner’s comments that what we eat nourishes only our brain and only what we breathe nourishes our physical structure such as our bones, skins and big toe, with modern day physiology and anatomy?

      How do you square Steiner’s comments about how sunlight falls on an animal’s head and mouth determines it’s evolutionary shape just as moonlight determines the characteristics of it’s hindquarters with real world Zoology?

      I cannot get past these inconsistencies.
      Stu

    • Considera says:

      Dear Stu

      First of all I wouldn’t want to convince anyone. You’d have to do that yourself. But I would be able to indicate what I did when faced with these issues, because I recognize them as massive hurdles. However, I would like to ask what makes you so confident to assert that these are patently false statements.

      The first step for me – one that may or may not work for you – was to try on, as a hypothesis, RS’ assertion that what is alive is not to be judged by the same rules as that which is just matter, like dust and rocks. I think it is fair to say that the scientific jury is still out on our cultural assumption that organisms are just complex mechanisms – even if Shrödinger and Dawkins have pressed ahead as if it is settled – and which, therefore, must only be judged by the criteria that hold good for dead matter. Steiner, if I have understood his basic stance, offered the assertion that what is alive is permeated by another level of organization that one can model, and with which one can interact when it is embedded in matter (organic matter) but also when it is not. (The preparations’ job, seen from this point of view, is to bring this unembodied ‘life’ into the plants and animals in a powerful and harmonious way, and then one can speak of ‘enlivened soils’ and ‘dead soils’ without being nebulous.) Consciousness also has fundamentally other rules than those that our current orthodoxy will entertain, and self-consciousness has yet other rules. Each of these hypothesized levels has impacts on the other levels, so that living things maintain themselves at a level of integrity above their environment before death abandons the corpse to the laws of entropy – ie the laws appropriate to what is not alive. Consciousness dampens down the physiological vitality of other tissues so nerves are not great metabolizers … etc.

      Whether he is right or not is for each to decide but I think one is particularly competent to judge when one has read the texts I mentioned before and lived with these assertions for a while as hypotheses.

      Some of the implications of his world-view are – as you have shown here – most bizarre on first meeting. One can stop at that boggle-threshold and reject it out of hand, or one can see if they are at least compatible with the theory (and with such other mysteries as Aboriginal songlines, Plato’s ideas, Bhuddist teaching, etc). If you want to investigate these ‘other levels’ directly, rather than judge RS’s work through the filters of a typical modern Western education, then I would suggest that the book for you would be, ‘Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, How is it Achieved?’ The introduction is riddled through and through with common sense and clear thinking – were it not I would not have continued to investigate whether the seeming absurdities are indeed absurd or require some frisking of my own cultural assumptions.

      To your first example, ‘seed-germinating power’ is clearly not just fancy chemistry liberated in the tiny seed by warmth and moisture in spring soils because that does well to raise up a seedling before it is exhausted. But if we go with RS’s thinking as outlined above so sketchily there are other forces that intercede in growing a plant and it is at least conceivable these can be harnessed in other ways and could be incredibly powerful if only we knew how to work with them.

      Your second example:
      <blockquote cite='How do you square Steiner’s comments that what we eat nourishes only our brain and only what we breathe nourishes our physical structure such as our bones, skins and big toe, with modern day physiology and anatomy?
”

      Again, this is not necessarily a “patently false statement” – although it may indeed be false – with the way of looking at things that RS built up at great length from the 1880s onwards. If modern physiology and anatomy had no mysteries left to solve then perhaps we could reject RS’s approach out of hand but I am not ready to do this yet. A way in might be to consider the difference between what is developed by photosynthesis and what is drawn up through the roots, and how these streams of nourishment in the plant kingdom are found after the metamorphic processes from plant to animal to human. Let me know what your research shows.

      “How do you square Steiner’s comments about how sunlight falls on an animal’s head and mouth determines it’s evolutionary shape just as moonlight determines the characteristics of it’s hindquarters with real world Zoology?”

      For this you would need to be familiar with a study of form and my recommendation would be Andreas Suchantke’s “Metamorphosis: Evolution in Action”. Absurd as the statement you quote does seem I think it may one day be clear to us both (I am still studying) by pursuing the scientific stream that is often associated with Goethe’s name. Perhaps it is already ‘real world’.

      Please don’t get me wrong Stu. I consider Steiner primarily as a gifted researcher whose work is there for review, and as a communicator whose who approach hints at other scientific approaches to the mysteries of life. I don’t think he should be considered as a direct line to the truth as may be the case for some, or as a fraud as is the case for others. The problem is that not many people have had the guts or opportunity or incentive to work in his way, so the message and the messenger are frequently conflated. My own approach, as I hope is clear through the Considera site, is to see if his BD work holds water. (Despite your pugnacious stance I think that you have said that you would be BD if it dealt with the fungal diseases in your vines) No doubt there is unintelligent application of his work, and there is almost certainly a crowd in the wine business who are full of BS for whatever reason (and I suspect you are right that many who say they are in the BD camp have not read as much RS as you have), but my experience is that occasionally BD can do things that I have not seen done in any other way. This is part of my incentive to clarify what it can do and the scientific method is the way forward for me there. I stick around trying to understand RS because the goals are so desirable, and at the same time I try and find the results of thoughtful use of his agricultural work to try and make those really impressive results more frequent. If you want to follow that perhaps I can suggest you have a read of this paper.

      “I cannot get past these inconsistencies.”

      Perhaps you could go on a course! Perhaps UCCE could be persuaded to put one on and if you are lucky it won’t be the BS merchants running it. Good luck.

      (Sorry if my use of the tags is wrong. The WordPress interface is not transparent to my rudimentary html.)

  18. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. Although I am not trained as a viticulturist (I am a chemist), I am amazed at the gullibility of the biodynamic farmers. I find your discussion educational. My opposition to Biodynamics was intuitive based on my technical education and some of the weird procedures (phase of the moon stuff) but after reading your comments I am baffled that anyone with a decent high scool education would be taken in.

    Thanks for your work and keep it up!

    Michael Farrow

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Michael,
      Thanks for your comments of support. Isn’t it amazing that we need to have this conversation, let alone having to continue to battle this blind faith in Rudolf Steiner?
      Stu

  19. Considera says:

    “… there is not one shred of evidence, one peer-reviewed replicable experiment proving the efficacy of Biodynamic farming!” See http://considera.org/reslit.html for a few.

    “… do you know that he hated modern science” I think this is inaccurate. I understand that RS was of the opinion that a scientific trend which took matter as its fundamental reality was not going to free itself of assumptions. But the scientific attitude per se, was what he preferred in those who came to listen to him.

    • biodynamicshoax says:

      Considera,
      It’s very clear from his lectures that Steiner was completely dismissive of modern science because, in my opinion, science was and is a threat to his fraudulent ideas. I fail to understand how Biodynamic supporters can reconcile Science and the Scientific Method with Steiner’s use of intuition, perception and “Spiritual Science,” they are mutually exclusive.
      Stu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: