Raise an Organic Toast to Earth Day

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Published on April 21st, 2009  |  Discuss This Article  

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Looking for a proper beverage to enjoy (responsibly, of course) on Earth Day? How about an organic beer?

I’ve recently been doing some “research” around town in Boise, and have found organic brews to be surprisingly easy to find. Not to mention tasty.

There are organic lagers and ambers and India Pale Ales and porters, from local microbreweries and large corporations. Even my neighborhood dive bar, which caters to an audience who loves Harleys and jet skis, has New Belgium’s organic wheat beer, Mothership Wit, on tap.

Of course, the really cool and really green among us may be less than excited. After all, many environmentalists now say we have to go “beyond organic.” As writer Michael Pollan has pointed out, “big organic” is often industrial agriculture, with its own significant impacts.

I’m well familiar with all the arguments and have made some of them myself: We should be focusing more on local food than organic. We shouldn’t just be following trendy eco-labels. Products like organic beer are more stunt than genuine green living practice.

These arguments parallel concerns about Earth Day: Not enough people really care. We have to work at bigger scales and achieve bigger outcomes. Earth Day has become more about festivals selling hemp shirts than it is about change.

The environmental movement, we hear constantly,  hasn’t done enough.

Never enough.

Here’s the thing: Maybe organic beer signifies a lot more than a stunt.

Ten years ago, could I have walked into any supermarket in Boise, Idaho and picked up a six-pack of organic beer?

Of course not.

Instead of the constant refrain of “We’re not doing enough!”, maybe Earth Day can simply be a time to reflect on what we actually have accomplished.

People actually care enough about the pesticides contaminating our land, water and air to pay more for products at the grocery store that don’t pollute.

That’s progress.

They care enough so that today it is quite easy — even in small cities, even in small towns — to find organic potatoes and organic steaks and organic cookies.

And organic beer.

I’m aware that it might not be “enough.” But then again, it’s a pretty promising sign. It shows that people do make changes in their lives for the betterment of wildlife and the environment.

That’s reason enough to celebrate, and reason enough to join me in raising an organic toast to Earth Day. (And please share with me your own favorite organic beverage you’ll use for your toast).

(Image: A toast. Source: Palm Z through a Creative Commons license.)

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2 Responses to “Raise an Organic Toast to Earth Day”

  1. TruNorth says:

    To borrow a phrase, look at the glass of organic beer as half full rather than half empty, right?
    “Movements” aren’t what makes a difference. People make a difference. For those complaining the environmental movement isn’t doing enough, that we’re far from being environmentally sound, I have to admit I agree. But I enjoy life enough to celebrate the victories we’ve made. I’m not about the waste my time griping about how there’ s “not enough” done.

  2. SmallTowner says:

    Yes, organics — even organic beer — are available in small cities and small towns. In point of fact, it was many small cities and towns that have long been on the forefront of the organic movement. An example is that the very first certified organic brewery in the U.S., Eel River Brewery, was started in Fortuna, CA behind the Redwood Curtain in what locals call the Humboldt Nation. Eel River revolutionized the craft brew movement with its outstanding organic beers. Fortuna is a “city” of about 11,000 people. In fact, the entire county of only 130,000 people has been on the leading edge of the organic movement for decades now and is a foodie haven of locally produced organic commercial products. What’s more amazing to me than finding organic products in small towns and cities is finding them when I go to a big city.

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