'Clean' Wine Is Carcinogenic ...

Monday, February 14, 2022

... because all wine is carcinogenic.

There is no shortage of ridiculous claims about health and diet out there, and since they are almost always parroted and promoted by unqualified celebrities, it can seem like the only advice out there is bad advice.

Said advice is often so bad that anyone with a decent background in science will know to ignore it after the briefest exposure. At the other extreme, many would agree: "There's a sucker born every minute."

I generally ignore health claims I have not sought out or vetted on my own, but I have a Ph. D. in a related field. What about those times someone I know and value falls for a claim that might sound credible to a non-scientist? And what if it's based on a fad I haven't heard of yet, or concerns a claim I haven't myself considered in depth? More to the point: Is there a rational counterweight to the nonsense spewed forth by the likes of, say, the "Food Babe?"

Fortunately, it would seem that the answer is, Yes. There is at least one.

This anonymous writer, whom I encountered through the Genetic Literacy Project, has background and experience in food science and calls herself the "Food Science Babe." There's a good collection of her writing at Ag Daily. The title of this post comes from her satisfying takedown of a precious quack wine fronted by Cameron Diaz.

Here's a sample:

Zeroing in on trace amounts of thoroughly-studied pesticides that have been widely used for a long time -- while missing or ignoring the carcinogenic potential of ethanol -- is par for the course for the thinking of far too many people today. (Image by Kym Ellis, via Unsplash, license.)
"If you're not drinking wine with organically grown grapes, you're drinking pesticides -- it's nothing you want inside of you," Cameron Diaz told InStyle. Diaz and her "clean" wine business partner, Katherine Power, realized that while they had switched to eating organic food and using clean skincare, they didn't actually know what was inside the wine they had been drinking for half their lives. Cue the eyeroll and chemistry lesson.

Can we talk about "clean" wine for a second? Much like for food and beauty products, "clean" is a meaningless marketing term, but what's even more ridiculous is that we're talking about a Group 1 carcinogen, ethanol. That's right, the most toxic substance in any glass of wine, whether it contains additives or parts per billion (ppb) levels of pesticide residues or not, is going to be the alcohol.

I've seen so many "clean" and organic wine companies popping up lately, and it just blows my mind that people actually believe that alcohol can be made healthier by being "clean" or "organic." We already know that organic food is no safer or more nutritious than conventional food, and obviously ethanol produced from fermented organic grapes is going to be the exact same chemical compound as the ethanol produced from fermented conventional grapes. It's all just EtOH, the same Group 1 carcinogen. To market it as "healthier" or "cleaner" is not only false, but extremely anti-science. [links removed, format edits]
And yes, among other things, she discusses the non-synthetic pesticides organic farmers use while pretending not to use pesticides.

The Food Science Babe is new to me, but based on the handful of articles of hers I read over the weekend, I would say that she is worth reading on those occasions one might want to get a bead on the latest buzzing from media on food matters, or get ready to help someone see through the same. Her writing is very informative and is good about helping the interested reader learn more. Crucially, it is also on a level that an intelligent adult can understand it, even without a strong science background.

-- CAV

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