Traverse City Michigan

Traverse City Business News

Posted and Commentary by Bill Couzens

News of Michigan’s first “organic” vineyard on Lake Michigan at first blush may be the “anesthetic” to the real news that a development is coming to the northern shoreline near Manistee Michigan.

Seemingly news of Michigan’s first “organic” vineyard is supposed to be the “good news first”….but is it?

In theory it all sounds so wonderful and maybe this site will be a model for like communities.

What unsuspecting community members may fail to realize that when a vineyard states they are organic, the label organic is reserved for only a USDA ORGANIC vineyard.

Using term “organic” is not just a description..its a brand.

The standards for USDA ORGANIC are stringent. To be USDA ORGANIC and bear the USDA ORGANIC seal it must be made from 100% organic ingredients. These wines must not have any added sulfites.

To say a vineyard is organic without being USDA ORGANIC provides little knowledge of safety relative to human health and pesticide exposures.

Why so?

To use the USDA’s brand of ORGANIC when in fact the vineyard may not be ORGANIC gives neighbors a false sense of safety relative to pesticide exposures in air and water supplies. Chemicals sprayed can drift up to miles affecting communities, human health and their environments.

And while many will argue the standards are lower for USDA organics, the reality is they are the only government enforced standards.

See more on USDA

These concerns are especially prevalent, this last June in Reuters reported a study of nearly 700 adults with or without brain tumors. French researchers found that agricultural workers with the highest level of exposure to pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with brain cancer as those with no occupational pesticide exposure.

The study took place in Frances wine growing region.

While so many of us are wine lovers the reality is that depending on where the vineyard is and in some cases it may require repeated sprayings of chemical concoctions that if a neighbor would have little knowledge of outcomes to human health.

In this day and age no one wants to live or send their children to school adjacent to a pesticide application site.

In fact in Virginia they now recommend that pesticide application sites not locate themselves next to schools.

It is important pesticide application sites not locate themselves in health effected communities and or in environmentally sensitive areas as on the banks of Lake Michigan.

While the USDA National Organic Program may not be perfect it is currently the only veil in place that we have to protect those of us that may be alarmed by the sound science relative to the link of pesticide exposures and compromising human health.

So while vineyards can be a great thing we must not rubberstamp them for ALL communities and to be cautious of those vineyards that may be using a breadth of pesticides that may be in close proximity to our homes and schools that potentially could impede human health.

And while there have been great benefits to some chemicals there are others that seemingly are unnessary and preventable that have negative outcomes for human health. Please find out more about pesticides at or

A vineyard, is a lovely notion as a center piece to a new development, however communities must understand the outcomes of unnessary and preventable pesticide application sites in close proximity to their living spaces.

This development sounds as if there is great potential to be a healthy model; however it is up to the community to insure it will be safe for human health and the environment.