Thanksgiving encourages everyone to think about what they are thankful for. Friends. Family. A house and a job. The Common App. Education. A wonderful thanksgiving meal. Millions of dead turkeys. Wait a minute, things don’t look so great from that perspective. Approximately 250 turkeys were raised for the sole purpose of eating them on Thanksgiving. How’s that for a guilt trip. Indeed, thanksgiving gives our friends at PETA just another chance to shake their heads at us. Lucky for us, they offer 10 reasons why we should save these turkeys
It is possible, to feel guilty about every single thing we do these days, or so it seems. How can we be thankful for so many things on thanksgiving when there is so much we are not thankful for and take for granted. Food for thought.
With this on my mind, I embarked with my family to lunch on the day after thanksgiving. We went to a winery owned by a friend of my uncle’s and therefore got a backstage look at the wine business. You wouldn’t think it, but a lot of nature goes into one bottle of wine.The process looks somewhat like this:
1) Loads of lands must be cleared and stripped of its natural purpose in order to grow the grapes
2)In the meantime, loads of land-mostly in Portugal-are used to grow cork trees. We heard an interesting story to this. Because you can only take the cork off of a cork tree once every ten years or so, about two decades ago the Portugese tried to grow super cork trees that would grow in a third of the time. The cork from this trees was not resistant to all sorts of bacteria and other nasty stuff because of its short grow time and almost killed the wine industry. Interesting that in order to save land, they had to manipulate nature and its genetics. Whichever way you look at it though, they failed.
3)The grapes have to get transported, fermented and turned into wine. I won’t go into detail, but it takes lots of energy and air conditioning and transportation.
4)The grapes need to be in wooden barrels. These need wood grown in very cold temperatures, and trees are grown in cold parts of France, Minnesota, Oregon, Maine and more. The French ones are ideal. They also have the biggest toll in shipping them to wineries in California. Then there is the wood grown just so it can be cut down.
5)The bottles have to come from somewhere. I’m not exactly sure where, but for a winery that has over 12 million galloons of wine in the making at any given time, they need a lot of glass.
6)Shipping it. It goes everywhere. This particular winery sends about 10% of its wine to China. That’s far away, and big steam ships use a lot of gas. Pollution and use of fossil fuels, all at once. In the last couple of years, China has been importing more and more wine. Right now they don’t have the soil for grapes, its a hard industry to start (but not that hard as seen in California) and they are more focused on industrial advances. Nevertheless, their middle class, which is already huge and is growing at an even huger rate wants to drink wine. So its comes from far away California.
Here’s the thing. A knowledgable person can go through and do this for nearly everything. The results will often be depressing. Clearly, we can’t make everything perfect (the best step to completely reverse our dirty trend is for everyone to eat out of their own garden and never drive anywhere), but things need to be better. When simple pleasures like enjoying thanksgiving or a nice bottle of wine can make you guilty of conspiracy to harm to Earth to such a degree, things are a problem. Big time. And how do we clean it up? Do we say, “No, China may not have our wine,” or maybe limit the number of trees that can grow the grapes?
I like the latter solution. Everything has to be in excess these days. Big SUV’s, buy one get one free, and paper starbucks cups every morning, things really need to be scaled down. That will hold the forces of destruction at bay until we can get cleaner energy and fuel. But we are far from being in the clear. Just wait until Christmas.