Many people tell me that they don't buy organic food because they see it as a big con and that either the farmers are making false claims or that the supermarkets are packaging things with a different label in order to increase profits! Some also think that organic food is no different from non organic and therefore what's the point?
Just to set the context, there have been many studies which have clearly shown the benefits of organic food. Perhaps the biggest and most widely referenced has been Newcastle University's landmark study which showed 60% higher antioxidants and considerably less toxic heavy metal exposure than non organic. Further details HERE.
Another concern is that amount of pesticides in the non organic food and the impact this may have on health as a result of chemicals which work as endocrine disrupters. You may have read about such chemicals which are also found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and can result in immunological, reproductive and neurological complications among others.
So, what is Organic food?
Organic food has to be made form at least 95% organic ingredients whether animal or plant source. The remaining 5% coming from a list of recommended foods that are not available organically e.g. iron and thiamine used in flour. No pesticides or chemical fertilisers are used and the healthy, fertile soil is achieved by rotating crops and encouraging wildlife to deal with pest control and disease prevention. Organic farming is a fascinating and beautiful subject as we see man setting his wits against nature and coming up with strategies that don't involve chemicals!
Organic animals must be pastured in wide open spaces and raised according to the highest standards of animal welfare. Growth hormones are prohibited as are routine antibiotics. (Antibiotics are given if the animal is unwell but a designated time period must lapse before the animal can be included back in the food chain). These issues are important to note as some people give up meat assuming that animals are not medicated as required and are left to suffer. This is NOT the case. In fact the guidelines for farmers are a mile long and can be found HERE.
How do I know my food is actually organic? Couldn't the farmer just claim this?
First of all, the issue that we need to understand is that for any farmer choosing to go Organic, this is a group of people with a huge passion for what they do and a philosophy which guides their approach to farming. This is not an easy option! It is a huge amount of work and Organic farmers are extremely dedicated to their work. It is what I would call a labour of love! The guidelines they must adhere to and the costs involved in registering as Organic make it prohibitive for all but the most dedicated. They are also highly regulated with spot checks by regulating bodies such as The Soil Association and the costs involved in failing to comply would be too ridiculous for any farmer to even contemplate. Added to which, he would be breaking the law! So, as long as the food has a Soil Association stamp or Organic Farmers and Growers or equivalent then we can be assured they are truly organic and meet with strict EC guidelines. For a list of regulators in the UK, see as follows...
Organic food certainly isn't a con. It is in fact how food used to be, before the advent of chemicals. Anecdotally, many people notice a better taste with organic produce. But for most people it is the health benefits for both ourselves and the animals and plants that are of greatest concern as are the implications for the environment and sustainable farming methods.
I hope you find some reassurance in the above. Further information can also be found HERE.
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