Nobody wants to know where their food comes from. It's perfectly understandable: Hamburgers are delicious regardless of the fact that the slaughterhouse had to toss cows into a giant blender in order to make them. Still, it's worth paying attention to, because some of what's going on behind the scenes is downright weird. Like ...
5Magical Farm Rituals
Let's say your local farm or vineyard has a mouse problem. How do you think they solve it? Poison? Baited traps? A bunch of cats? Wrong! They catch one mouse, skin it, discard the body, burn the skin into ashes while Venus is in the constellation Scorpius, then scatter the ashes. Or at least that's what they do if they practice biodynamics. It's a popular farming technique among organic growers (especially vineyards) that is full of weird rituals intended to harness the powers of the Earth and stars. Here are their directions on how to make compost:
First, stuff cow horns full of manure and ground-up quartz, then bury them for the winter.
Then hang sausages made from flowers and either cow or stag intestines out all summer.
Next, cram barnyard animal skulls full of bark, then "bury them in a damp place."
"We started out with human skulls, but we eventually ran out of hitchhikers."
Why in the possible hell are they doing this?
Well, early last century, an Austrian philosopher and "esotericist" named Rudolf Steiner founded an occult spiritual movement known as anthroposophy. Steiner himself described this belief system as "a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe." Basically, it's a hodgepodge of New Age jibber-jabber and astrology. For some reason, in 1924 a group of farmers invited Steiner to deliver a series of lectures on how his theories could be applied to agriculture, despite his having absolutely no expertise in the area. Steiner's ideas were a hit, and biodynamic agriculture was born.
In recent years, Steiner's methods have become especially popular among vintners, and we're not just talking about a few tie-dyed Napa Valley beard enthusiasts. Biodynamic viticulture has become all the rage among some of the world's leading wine producers, and there are even some supermarkets that organize their schedule around Steiner's calendar. Trade and industry groups hold exclusively biodynamic wine tasting events, and more than 10 percent of France's vineyards are now using this supernatural system. Most supporters will tell you that the proof is in the results, and that biodynamically grown wine just tastes better.
"Hmmm, a subtle bouquet, with undertones of mouse ghosts."
Just in case you were wondering if anyone has bothered, "A six-year study from the Washington State lab in 2005 was the first published in a peer-reviewed journal comparing biodynamic and organic agriculture with respect to wine grapes in particular. They found nothing." What? You mean grapes aren't improved at a farm where "cow horns are utilized as antennae for receiving and focusing cosmic forces"? Did we mention that's accomplished by filling them full of shit?