Our guest for this episode is Elizabeth Whitlow – Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance. The Regenerative Organic Alliance is the non-profit that administers Regenerative Organic Certification. And if you haven’t heard of Regenerative Organic Certification, then it’s my great pleasure to introduce you to what I hope will become the new global standard for viticulture and agriculture.
Elizabeth walks us through how ROC – Regenerative Organic Certification – was created to address some of the lacks for the current national Organic certification, by creating standards for soil health, animal welfare, and social equity.
It’s that last part that we focus on in this interview. Labor and worker treatment specifically. ROC combines standards from Fair Trade certifications and other respectful labor practices, to build one of its three pillars on one of the most overlooked aspects of wine – the people who grow it.
It goes without saying that the first step in treating vineyard workers well is to not have them work in an environment polluted with poisonous pesticides and herbicides, but the need for honoring these workers goes far beyond this. And the issues around agricultural labor are extremely complicated and global. Elizabeth digs into some of these and presents the solutions that the Regenerative Organic Certification is aiming to achieve.
But at the end of the day, our attitudes and choices as consumers may have the most power of all. Each one of us has incredible power to change the way our food and wine is grown. We vote for the way we want our fellow humans – the farm workers - to be treated multiple times per day – with every bite of food or sip of wine we take. If we feel entitled to cheap wine and food, well… we may get it. But someone is paying for it.
Farming is hard and risky work. With climate change it’s getting harder and riskier. And it creates not only our personal health and well being, but the health and well being of the entire global ecosystem. Maybe it’s time we start considering what that is actually worth.