Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

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Jon Hesford
 
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #101  Postby Jon Hesford » June 19th 2010, 4:27am

J a y H a c k wrote:
Lyle Fass wrote: . . . And biodynamics is like any religion, the fundamentalist aspect is always too severe (Joly), but some people in the middle (Leflaive, Leroy, Wittman) make great wines. Who the f*ck knows why? But I am sure creating a living, breathing ecosystem in the soil cannot hurt.
Charles Massoud of Paumanok, who does not practice biodynamicism, provided a very good explanation to me a few years ago. He said that anyone who really cares about the vines and the grapes, and pays attention to them, and watches over them carefully, and exerts a strong effort to grow good graoes, will have better grapes than someone who neglects his vineyard. Thus, he suspected that biodynamic principles simply caused growers to give their vines the attention they needed to grow good grapes, no more nor less than any other passionate grower focused on other techniques.


+1

I'm interested in biodynamics but wish it was truly practical for those without lots of resources. I have 3 main problems with it. The first is that it does not sit well with my scientific mind. The second is that many great producers only converted to biodynamics after they had buit a reputation for their wines - presumably as a way to further distinguish themselves from the crowd.

The third is the fundamentalist and exclusionist nature of some of its adherents and supporters. Producers who's first sentence is "I am biodynamic". Fairs and tastings exclusively for biodynamic wines. Merchants and importers that only work with biodynamic growers. In my region you get sneered at for not being biodynamic!
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #102  Postby G. D y e r » June 19th 2010, 9:11am

Brigitte Armenier wrote:G. Dyer, "properly controlled experiments" is precisely what is explored and summarized in Turinek's paper.
As for the "mention of sensitive crystallization" at the end of the paper, the abstract already mentioned that "in addition, quality determination methods, based on holistic approaches, are increasingly being investigated and recognized" and that "further research is needed." May I simply draw your attention on the fact that this "quality assessment" does not belong to the Demeter standards which define Biodynamics?


I absolutely agree, the Turinek paper is aiming for a controlled experimental approach.

You highlight the fact that Demeter has different standards than the broader BioD movement. So we should think of it as BioD 'lite'? Winemakers will often cite sensitive crystallization and racking by lunar cycle in addition to the viticultural methodology, which makes it hard to separate Demeter BioD from the more fundamentalist approaches. Perhaps steps can be taken to help separate the rituals from the functional aspects of BioD?
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #103  Postby Lyle Fass » June 19th 2010, 10:52am

Jon Hesford wrote:
J a y H a c k wrote:
Lyle Fass wrote: . . . And biodynamics is like any religion, the fundamentalist aspect is always too severe (Joly), but some people in the middle (Leflaive, Leroy, Wittman) make great wines. Who the f*ck knows why? But I am sure creating a living, breathing ecosystem in the soil cannot hurt.
Charles Massoud of Paumanok, who does not practice biodynamicism, provided a very good explanation to me a few years ago. He said that anyone who really cares about the vines and the grapes, and pays attention to them, and watches over them carefully, and exerts a strong effort to grow good graoes, will have better grapes than someone who neglects his vineyard. Thus, he suspected that biodynamic principles simply caused growers to give their vines the attention they needed to grow good grapes, no more nor less than any other passionate grower focused on other techniques.


+1

I'm interested in biodynamics but wish it was truly practical for those without lots of resources. I have 3 main problems with it. The first is that it does not sit well with my scientific mind. The second is that many great producers only converted to biodynamics after they had buit a reputation for their wines - presumably as a way to further distinguish themselves from the crowd.

The third is the fundamentalist and exclusionist nature of some of its adherents and supporters. Producers who's first sentence is "I am biodynamic". Fairs and tastings exclusively for biodynamic wines. Merchants and importers that only work with biodynamic growers. In my region you get sneered at for not being biodynamic!


Fundamentalism blows in everything which I agree with, but merchants who work only in bio/org/natural wines is something I disagree with you on. It is their choice. Does anybody bitch about organic grocery stores? No. There is a big time double standard there. As Richard Betts said "Wine is a grocery item, first and foremost." If I open a store, it is my choice to sell whatever I want. 95+ point wines, natural wines, german wines, Italian wines (so many of those in New York). Just like if I open an art gallery, I can display anything I want.

What region are you in, where you get sneered at for not being BD?
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #104  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 19th 2010, 11:23am

Greg, why did I sense that the fact that Biodynamics is a farming practice and not a winemaking one will have to be repeated over and over? :) Racking by lunar cycle has nothing to do with Biodynamics as such. Any winemaker can rack by lunar cycle while the vineyard manager still sprays chemicals or uses organic farming. Demeter is thus no kind of "BioD lite," it is the organization which defines the biodynamic standards, in other words the work with the preparations.
Incidentally Greg, I am French, which means that I was brought up with a secular Voltairian spirit in a country that enacted the church-state separation in 1905. Words like "fundamentalists and rituals" do not belong to my approach of farming.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #105  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 19th 2010, 12:26pm

Jon, your "first main problem [with Biodynamics] is your scientific mind." I think this thread provides you with a beginning of interesting links that may help you reevaluating your own present understanding of science. Why don't you contact Craig Holdrege for instance?
Then, am I right to note that your 2 other "main problems with [Biodynamics]" have actually nothing to do with Biodynamics itself but with people: "many great producers / some of its adherents and supporters, producers, merchants and importers," and with what they think and/or do and/or say, and your interpretation of it. Why bother?
Biodynamics is a matter of farming.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #106  Postby Peter Cargasacchi » June 20th 2010, 4:39am

Brigitte Armenier wrote:Biodynamics is a matter of farming.



Brigette,

To help me understand Biodynamics, can you please explain what special farming knowledge and experience Steiner had? What was his background in farming? My understanding is that he was not a farmer?
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #107  Postby Jon Hesford » June 20th 2010, 10:33am

Brigitte Armenier wrote:Jon, your "first main problem [with Biodynamics] is your scientific mind." I think this thread provides you with a beginning of interesting links that may help you reevaluating your own present understanding of science. Why don't you contact Craig Holdrege for instance?
Then, am I right to note that your 2 other "main problems with [Biodynamics]" have actually nothing to do with Biodynamics itself but with people: "many great producers / some of its adherents and supporters, producers, merchants and importers," and with what they think and/or do and/or say, and your interpretation of it. Why bother?
Biodynamics is a matter of farming.


I did try to read Nicolas Joly's book on Biodynamic wines. I just found it annoying crap. It was like reading a religious text from some obscure sect. Taking weird ideas for granted and questioning very provable science. I've talked to a lot of biodynamic growers and a few experts too. The problem I find is that just preach doctrine at me. When I ask questions (and I'm pretty open to super-science), I just got "It stands to reason" as a reply when the things I was questioning (like spraying quartz on leaves to attract light energy) clearly do not stand to reason. I'll read those links when I have more time and see if they help me understand and appreciate biodynamics.

You are right. I do have a problem with some of the people active in the biodynamic movement. It's their superiority and dismissive attitude towards non-believers.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #108  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 20th 2010, 1:22pm

Peter,
Ah, again! :) Biodynamics is farming, so instead of looking at farming in our attempt to understand it, let us look at people (be it importers or Steiner)!… Nevertheless, the fact that Steiner "was not a farmer" is a pertinent remark which can't fail to intrigue, and which curiously bears the possibility to come at a closer understanding of Biodynamics. For similarly, how could a man who was not an architect conceive such a building as the second Goetheanum --built all in concrete--, and give birth to the organic architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright, Imre Makovecz…)? How could a man who was not a painter give the indications that would lead Wassily Kandinsky to become the father of abstract art? How could the indications of a man who was not a musician inspire and transform Arnold Schoenberg, leader of the Second Viennese School? How could a man who was not a sculptor be the source of inspiration for Joseph Beuys, usually considered as the greatest sculptor of the 20th century? How can it be that a man who was not an economist is now the source of inspiration for people like Nicanor Perlas, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish? Etc, etc…
But you and I both know that Rudolf Steiner was a Goethean scientist, right? :) And that is the path I would definitely recommend you to follow if you want to "understand Biodynamics." At some point, you will have to start wondering how such a scientist looks for instance at soil and plants, knowing that his first gesture is to free himself not only from the GMOs type of thinking, but also from the New Age dreaming.
Here is a source of books on phenomenological science: http://adonispress.org/
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #109  Postby G. D y e r » June 20th 2010, 1:43pm

Brigitte Armenier wrote:Greg, why did I sense that the fact that Biodynamics is a farming practice and not a winemaking one will have to be repeated over and over? :) Racking by lunar cycle has nothing to do with Biodynamics as such. Any winemaker can rack by lunar cycle while the vineyard manager still sprays chemicals or uses organic farming. Demeter is thus no kind of "BioD lite," it is the organization which defines the biodynamic standards, in other words the work with the preparations.
Incidentally Greg, I am French, which means that I was brought up with a secular Voltairian spirit in a country that enacted the church-state separation in 1905. Words like "fundamentalists and rituals" do not belong to my approach of farming.


OK, this is fine, so the BD official standard only covers farming, but others still invoke BD for other practices. Perhaps there needs to be a schism of sorts to separate these two groups as from the outside they all seem to be the same thing.

My question then is as follows. In your opinion, how does BD substantively differ from organic farming? There are preparations that one would not do in organic farming, but the basic principle seems to be the same. Less chemicals and a balanced ecosystem. If as you say the rituals are not all that important in BD, why not just treat it as a form of organic farming? Or, better yet, a type of sustainable agriculture because as I understand it organic farming can still be practiced in a manner that is not sustainable.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #110  Postby Peter Cargasacchi » June 20th 2010, 2:26pm

Brigitte Armenier wrote:Peter,
Ah, again! :) Biodynamics is farming, so instead of looking at farming in our attempt to understand it, let us look at people (be it importers or Steiner)!… Nevertheless, the fact that Steiner "was not a farmer" is a pertinent remark which can't fail to intrigue, and which curiously bears the possibility to come at a closer understanding of Biodynamics. For similarly, how could a man who was not an architect conceive such a building as the second Goetheanum --built all in concrete--, and give birth to the organic architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright, Imre Makovecz…)? How could a man who was not a painter give the indications that would lead Wassily Kandinsky to become the father of abstract art? How could the indications of a man who was not a musician inspire and transform Arnold Schoenberg, leader of the Second Viennese School? How could a man who was not a sculptor be the source of inspiration for Joseph Beuys, usually considered as the greatest sculptor of the 20th century? How can it be that a man who was not an economist is now the source of inspiration for people like Nicanor Perlas, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish? Etc, etc…
But you and I both know that Rudolf Steiner was a Goethean scientist, right? :) And that is the path I would definitely recommend you to follow if you want to "understand Biodynamics." At some point, you will have to start wondering how such a scientist looks for instance at soil and plants, knowing that his first gesture is to free himself not only from the GMOs type of thinking, but also from the New Age dreaming.
Here is a source of books on phenomenological science: http://adonispress.org/


But its all sophistry and its not real. We understand the microbiology and know that Steiner didn't write science, he wrote science fiction and regurgitated occult beliefs. Its very troubling to see people pretend the occult is real and hide behind medieval superstitions at a time when we understand the biology of soil microflora and carbon sequestration. Which Steiner did not understand and, it is seems, most biodymnamic practitioners do not understand nor seem to care about as long as they are certified??

I have seen nothing yet that does anything to dispell my observations and belief that Biodynamics is nothing more than a marketing franchise. Very cool, occult and all, definitely adds to the cultural landscape in the sense that it is in many ways like "Harrry Potter for adults."

But is it real in the sense that "the Sun's influence extends right up to the heart, stopping just short of it, and that Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn work in forming the head and the blood, and that from the heart backwards, the influence of Moons is supported Mercury and Venus"? NO.

While I find some of Steiner's beliefs as to industrial agriculture to be morally justifiable, I find that his understanding of science and biology, to be rooted in superstitious medieval belief systems and he had no clue.

Modernly, we can add concepts to "revise" the sytem perspective to attempt creating some plausibility and to help people suspend disbelief, but the bottom line is that Steiner did not understand farming nor the underlying physical reality.

Do crystals in a homeopathic dilution increase the power of the sun? No.

Does bd help sell wine as a green marketing strategy? YES.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #111  Postby Roberto Rogness » June 20th 2010, 2:51pm

Peter, we are smack dab in the middle of one of the most active markets for organic foods in the country. For four years running we did an annual Organic / BD only issue of our newsletter (printed in GREEN ink) and NO ONE CARED.

As a result the value of this as a marketing tool seems questionable to me at best.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #112  Postby Frank Drew » June 20th 2010, 4:46pm

I'm with Roberto on this: I'm not very familiar with American BD practitioners (perhaps that means that their "marketing" campaign hasn't been very effective?), but of the Europeans I have to think that Zind-Humbrecht, Leflaive, Leroy et al. probably didn't need (nor notice) much of a bump in their sales when they began practicing BD, and, in fact, I can't see that they really trumpet the fact.

I think they're true believers; I'm not, but I think they are.

Ms. Armenier,

Listing those influenced by Steiner could be compared to the countless artists inspired by the Christian religion (or any religion, for that matter); their belief is personal and isn't proof of anything beyond that, I think you'd have to agree.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #113  Postby David Glasser » June 20th 2010, 6:05pm

I've read the whole thread, I've read the links from Brigitte, and I'm still not convinced that the non-mainstream "scientific" stuff in Biodynamics is anything more than faith-based claptrap. Brigitte, you've written a WHOLE lot of words about science that have nothing do to with Biodynamics and, as far as I can tell, have little or nothing to do with science. It's making your arguments sound to me like those of someone who has to resort to distraction when they have no serious argument to put forth.

I am fine with the concept of what works empirically, much of which is similar to organic farming and paying a lot of attention to caring for the land and the vines. I am happy to spend my money on great wines from Biodynamic farmers even though I don't believe a word of the mumbo-jumbo non-scientific explanations behind a lot of it. Biodynamics is sounding more and more like Scientology with each post and link that I read. I can still enjoy a John Travolta movie even though I am convinced that he is seriously delusional about the L Ron Hubbard BS. Same deal with biodynamic winemakers and the Steiner BS.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #114  Postby mdaniel » June 20th 2010, 6:15pm

Bob Hunnicutt wrote:Bd is similar to religion in that it's based on faith. Never argue with the True Believers.


As Han Solo would say, "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side."
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #115  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 20th 2010, 6:48pm

People and talking and people and talking… Jon, are you becoming French? :)
What about the vineyards? For whatever the speech is, soil and plants are what a vigneron looks at first, and where he will always find the source of his inner convictions and the best of all possible proofs! And since seemingly no speech ever found favour in your eyes, it must be indeed your visits to some certified Biodynamic vineyards which led you so far to become "interested in Biodynamics," or what else?
Do you know that the story of many biodynamists is that, like yourself, they first tried to understand through the use of the sole intellect? Should I say in a desperate search? In fact so desperate that after a while, they just put it aside and did their best to forget about it. Time went by. And one day, without making a song and dance about it, but with now the humility and intelligence of the hands, they simply started walking the talk. For: "recent research in the neurosciences and neurocardiology identifies the four neural centers of our brain and indicates that a fifth such center is located in the heart," Joseph Chilton Pearce in The Biology of Transcendence.
So, who knows? One day you might start spraying your first Biodynamic preparation while still ignoring the whys and pourquoi, but knowing that "how" has now become your own tool of investigation.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #116  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 20th 2010, 6:51pm

Greg, "others [may] invoke BD for other practices," but the question is: why would one necessarily give them credit over what the BD official standards stipulate?
"How does BD substantively differ from organic farming?" Actually the question should be reversed. For it is not always known that Lord Northbourne "ran both his garden at Northbourne Court and the Home Farm according to the biodynamic precepts (…) laid down by Rudolf Steiner"…
Today, what clearly separates Organic from Biodynamic farming is the former's abandonment of the nine Biodynamic preparations, the basis for Biodynamics. So that if one feels to consider that "less chemicals and a balanced ecosystem" is the aim for Organic farming, it is but a consequence for Biodynamic farming. To develop here one's sense of direction is recommended!
As for "sustainable farming" which is the English translation of "agriculture raisonnee," no! :)
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #117  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 20th 2010, 8:10pm

Mr. Drew: what an interesting comment of yours which certainly shows your knowledge of these artists and social activists, as well as your knowledge about the structure of their works. So, what do you think for instance of this law revealed by Steiner and put into practice by Schoenberg? For no musician would ever mistake musical law and religious belief!
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #118  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 20th 2010, 9:49pm

Peter, "we understand the microbiology": are you sure that your knowledge of soil microbiology equals the one of Lydia and Claude Bourguignon? You should get yourself familiar with their studies about the influence of biodynamic method on vineyard soils. For knowledge helps to structure one's quality of thinking.
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #119  Postby Jon Hesford » June 21st 2010, 12:26am

I'm sorry Brigitte, I can't make any sense of what you are saying. It sounds a bit like the Joly book but you keep throwing in references to things, ideas and people I've never heard of or who have absolutely nothing to do with wine.

The term "agriculture raisonnée" is the French term for "Sustainable Viticulture" which, I understand, originated in Switzerland and describes an ecological, reasoned and safe system for managing vineyards. The "Raisonnée" terms has been derided by Biodynamists in France as just conventional farming on a budget. This is not the case. A better French term would be "agriculture durable", which is what I use. I believe in this system, not because I like the sound of it or because it allows me access to niche markets or because I've been converted by another charismatic follower. I believe in it because it is based on science = knowledge and can change with new developments and research. The key tenets are to assess the exact disease pressure, understand your soil and climate conditions, avoid ecological damage, reduce all sprays to a minimum, feed the soil, protect the vineyard worker and the consumer and keep the vineyard healthy and productive.

99.9% of wine end-consumers would be happy with that, as long as the wines are good. So why do biodynamic followers look down on "sustainable" growers?
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Re: Biodynamics is a hoax blog.

Post #120  Postby Brigitte Armenier » June 22nd 2010, 4:20pm

Jon, you cannot live in France, work there as a vigneron… and refer to Lydia and Claude Bourguignon as "people who have absolutely nothing to do with wine"! :) Here is their website: http://www.lams-21.com/index.php, and please, don't miss Coline Serreau's last film: http://www.solutionslocales-lefilm.com/!

David, how could a farming method practiced on all continents by people with so various cultures be "faith-based"? Unless you mistake "religion" for "consciousness," having not grasped yet that Goethean studies are Consciousness studies. So, here for your information:
Beliefs about Consciousness and Reality: Clarification of the Confusion Concerning Consciousness, Imants Baruss, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 15, Numbers 10-11, 2008, pp. 277-292(16), Imprint Academic.
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/i ... 0/art00013
The study suggests that "those with transcendental beliefs are the most rational, most curious and open to new ideas and also the most intelligent of the three groups: conventional organized religions, materialism and transcendental concepts." It also suggests that "many in the scientific community are closet transcendentalists, who disguise these beliefs for fear of damaging their careers."

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