We know that it’s more naturally grown, this way of growing and producing ‘things’; foods, textiles, drinks and other plant-based materials. But when asked to explain what ‘organic’ actually means, you might feel, well.. a little stumped.
So, if you ever wanted a quick-fire way to explain, you’re in the right place.
1/ More than crops and animals..
Regulations around organic standards don’t just apply to how food is ‘grown’, but that organic standards are met along the whole of the food chain. This means that premises will be checked at least once a year, be thoroughly assessed by a government approved certification control bodies (who make sure that standards are being met). You might have heard of some of them; the Soil Association, Organic Food Federation, Organic Farmers and Growers, Organic Trust, Biodynamic Association, plus ones in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This makes sure that consumers are getting products that are of a consistent high standard, in line with the requirements for being classified as ‘organic’.
2/ A ‘keep it close to nature’ philosophy
Organic foods are often slightly more expensive than conventional products, and you probably knew this already – and there is good reason for this. Big agriculture is powered up for mass production – the birthplace for the need for agrochemicals to manage crops and everything that entails; big produce, fast, with as easy as possible pest control. But organic just isn’t like that. Growing and production methods that allow crops to grow more naturally, with animals habitats encouraged to natural manage pests as part of the process. You could say it’s ‘gentler’ on the planet. Less invasive. It’s certainly more nature-driven. This takes extra time, care and cost. But it’s worth it.
3/ Well cared for animals
Antibiotics in meats: No thank you. Did you know that intensively reared pigs and poultry account for 79% of UK farming antibiotic use. Yes, that’s antibiotics. In your food. For this reason, some people choose to switch to organic meats. Animal welfare is at the heart of organically grown meats. Roaming free range, with good quality feeds and fresh air, these animals are well cared for and often result in products of unrivalled quality and taste.
4/ Less pesticides
According to the Soil Association, Government testing in 2017 found pesticide residues in 47% of British food. Between 2011 and 2015, 100% of oranges, and 86% of pears tested contained more multiple pesticide residues. Buy organic, and you’re consuming less pesticides. When you consider that there are over 320 pesticides than can be used in conventional farming, then you start to see how levels in the diet can soon add up. Compare this to 15 that can be used in organic farming, derived from natural ingredients such as citronella and clove oil (under restricted circumstances). It’s a very different approach.
5/ No Genetic Modification
In the boom decades of genetic modification, there was a push-back from people who didn’t want their food biochemically (genetically) altered. With questions about long-term impact on health and the environment, people turned to producers who could guarantee that the crops that were producing weren’t genetically altered. Buy organic, and you’re buying GM free automatically.