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Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller - February 2017


Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller - February 2017

Sonoma County Winegrowers just put out a “Sustainability Report 2017” distributed free in your local paper that speaks glowingly (and somewhat repetitiously) about the commitment to sustainability of Sonoma County viticulturalists, but I did not see any reference to climate change. 

And Sonoma’s new mayor, Rachel Hundley, in an interview with the Sonoma Index-Tribune, lauded the wine and tourism industries as primary contributors to Sonoma’s affluent lifestyle, well-worth the inconvenience of a little extra traffic through town, saying Sonoma needs “sustainable tourism.” But she also failed to connect the dots between tourism and climate change.

This word “sustainable” that is bandied about so readily is really not about the environment at all. It has to do with whether an industry can make a profit while publicizing its commitment to the soil, water and sun that make growing grapes possible. Indeed, that PR adds to the industry’s sustainability, because millennials, they know, will pay more for products that care for the future of the earth.

Whether the Sonoma County winegrowers really do employ environmentally supportive policies is ultimately not clear from this 24-page insert that environmentalists instantly label “greenwashing”. But it’s pretty obvious that the industry is not making any sacrifices to prevent climate change.

Even the USDA-NRCS and CDFA Summit (!!) – all big meetings are now called “summits” – “Building Partnerships on Healthy Soil,” which brought together government representatives, farmers, ranchers, scientists and business in Sacramento to encourage state agriculturalists to buy into the recently funded Healthy Soils program initiated by Governor Brown (and radically underfunded by the legislature; Brown had asked for $20 million, the legislature gave it $7.5 mil) did not address climate change. Instead, the emphasis was on how profitable it will be for farmers to employ the healthy soil practices for which, by the way, they can receive grants from the state. 

Apparently we don’t feel it’s effective to appeal to people’s will to survive – their devotion to future generations, their love of the earth, their awareness of what unchecked climate change will wreak – instead, we must assure them that good practices will be profitable.

Well, we are all human and we have to support ourselves. But strangely enough, in wartime we were able to rally, to make sacrifices, to work together to support our troops and so forth; but facing the greatest threat humanity has ever encountered, we feel compelled to downplay the reality because, thanks to Exxon, it’s “controversial.”

Agreement amongst 97 percent of climate scientists does not look like controversy to me.

The election of Donald Trump, on the other hand, is beyond controversial. Put simply, it’s a scandal.

One way to resist his agenda for deportations and registries: sign the petition “It Won’t Happen Here” at