Monday, August 18, 2008

Thinking inside the box...

Food is sure getting complicated. If you want proof, the most emailed article today on the New York Times is this little gem on saying that wine drinkers should favor the box over the bottle if they want to be green wine drinkers. Explaining the carbon efficiency advantage of transporting wine cross country using boxes instead of bottles. Of course he neglected that east coast wine drinkers could be even more green by ordering French wines instead of California where wine is transported in bulk using ships, instead of by trucks. But I digress.

The green advantages aside, the box over bottle debate is reminiscent of the debate that raged when wine started being shipped with screw tops instead of corks. Given that most wine is consumed close to it's purchase date, and boxes keep wine longer than bottles. What's stopping us. Like most things, it's tradition and the fact that wine is inextricably linked to class and status and there is a romance to the bottle of wine, and to the ritual of opening it up with a cork screw. This is the case in France, but wine is also an everyday drink that occupies many facets of people's lives. So a regular table wine can be served in a box without shame, no different from getting your coke from the fountain, the can or the plastic bottle.

Much of the challenge of our efforts to be green, is not the facts of being green, but the associated emotions of what our ungreen activities entail. Cars in the U.S. are not about transportation, they are about freedom and status. Cars in China (and as my understanding permits India) represent arrival, that you have made it in the world. So relax if you get your wine by the glass, the waiter won't tell so just put it out of your mind. Instead, order a locally grown tomato instead.

So what does it matter if our wine comes from a box, relax we'll figure out something else to signal our arrival.


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