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Why Cider Is More Sustainable Than Other Drinks

Cider Orchard 26-06-2019

It’s hard to make the case that drinking cider will save the planet, but hold my cider. In a competing world of choices which we know lead to differing climatic and environmental outcomes, wandering into the pub, for a glass of cider, might just be the most ecologically sound thing you can do. Drunk from a reusable glass, dispensed from a reusable keg.

What Makes Cider A Better Environmental Choice Than Beer?

In the days before we’d mined the earth’s crust for burnable fossils we had to get by with natural resources and renewable energy. We weren’t filling giant tankers with sulphurous bunker fuel and trading billions of tonnes of grain across continents. We had to live sustainably. Today the UK imports around half of it’s grain requirement – although we do grow most of the malting barley, used by brewers, the rice, corn-syrup and half of the sugar they add comes from abroad.

When you add this the fact that two thirds of our brewers use less than 50% British hops in their beer, then drinking beer can be a right carbon conundrum.  The carbon costs don’t stop there though. Whilst your pint of ale may rest cool in your palm in the pub – early in it’s life you would not have been able to pick it up. Brewing is so described because you must stew your grains at great temperatures to extract sugars for the fermentation. Then you must boil the sugary liquid with hops to continue the process of flavouring tap-water such as you can drink it.

Why Cider Is A More Sustainable Product

Cider on the other hand is another matter. The UK is totally self sufficient in cider apples. They are grown in the West of England where the cider producers are based. A typical journey for an apple to the mill will be less than 50 miles. Because apples are naturally sweet, their juice ferments without the need to boil. Indeed we make ciders, which have never got warmer than 14 degrees C from the day the apple was picked to the day the cider is drunk.  Drunk from a reusable glass, dispensed from a reusable keg. Less miles travelled, less energy to make it.

If we consider the wholesale soil degradation from arable production to grow grain for brewing. Constant ploughing opens up the soil to carbon loss and soil erosion, year after year soils become poorer and thinner. Twenty percent of global co2 is as a result of ploughing. The wildlife opportunities in the worlds grain prairies are vanishingly small.  The Wildlife Trusts tells us “most arable fields are large, featureless monocultures devoid of wildlife”.

Now let’s consider the lush bio-diverse habitat on offer in an orchard. Shelter for birds, mammals and insects, nectar for bees, butterflies and moths. Rich carbon deposits from unharvested fruit and leaves, soils unploughed and undisturbed for generations protecting it from erosion and allowing soils to become richer and deeper. The summer shade and winter shelter of an orchard gives sanctuary to flocks of field fare, hares, deer, foxes and badgers. Perches and hunting ground for raptors such as tawney and little owls. The most endangered, but treasured veteran orchards are home to 1800 species of flora and fauna which by any measure is astonishing, and worth preserving. And all you have to do is drink the most delicious substance human-kind has ever created. Is that a chore?

Enjoyed from a reusable glass, dispensed from a reusable keg, less miles travelled, low energy production, protecting fragile soils, homes for beautiful wild animals.

So next time someone moans at you for disappearing into the pub, tell them you’re playing your part in preserving vital habitat and protecting the world’s soil resource. Not just sneaking off for a jar.

You’re welcome. Time for a cider…

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