Many experts had cautioned that the struggling economy might slow down the burgeoning organic food movement, as consumers were expected to return to basics to save money and pinch pennies. At least according to a study released by the Organic Trade Association last month, that does not seem to be the case. According to the study, 73% of U.S. families buy organic at least occasionally, and three in ten U.S. families said they were spending more on organic products versus a year ago. It would seem the cost-cutting that is plaguing much of the retail sector is happening in other categories.
Closer to home, we are seeing more and more organic products appear on our own area grocery store’s shelves. During a visit today, my wife and I were disappointed to see that many organic items on our list were out of stock, apparent proof that others must be buying them up. It will be interesting to watch consumer trends as the economy continues to improve, as there are positive signs that organics have weathered the worst of the financial storm.
When the average consumer thinks of ways to live a more sustainable and energy-efficient lifestyle, it’s doubtful that goats or sheep come to mind first. However, for many vineyard owners, there’s a clear new trend towards using the prolific grass and weed-eating animals to more effectively and responsibly keep their acreage properly trimmed.
Philo, California’s Navarro Vineyards began using goats and sheep in June, with the primary purpose of reducing the use of tractors as well as manual labor. Santa Cruz’s Bonny Doon Vineyard, a producer of biodynamic wines, recently introduced 800 goats to their new vineyard, an event chronicled in a very entertaining YouTube video. They both join a bevy of producers, many of whom are organic or biodynamic, that have already been following the practice to avoid not only the use of gas-powered machines, but the use of herbicides that can easily enter the water table.
Time will tell if this trend, currently more popular on the west coast than east, will expand to vineyards on a wider scale. In addition to being more ecologically prudent, goat and sheep farming sure sounds more rewarding to us than riding your average John Deere tractor.