If you’re thinking about making the switch, here are some good reasons why you should
You’re in the supermarket, do you choose to fill your basket with organic produce or instinctively reach for the mainstream options? Perhaps you opt for a mixture of both. As shoppers seek to be more sustainable in their daily lives, and supermarkets dedicate more space to organic produce, the scales are tipping in favour of the former. In fact, more than 85 percent of UK adults are now buying organic compared to just under 80 percent five years ago, according to Kantar. “Small swaps can make a big difference,” says Cristina Dimetto, Organic Trade Board general manager, “Now is the time to make organic not just a buying choice but a lifestyle choice, for us and for our planet.” If you’re still on the fence, what would persuade you to make the switch? Here are Cristina’s eight reasons to go organic.
Organic always refers to food as it should be, that means fewer pesticides; no artificial colours or preservatives; always free-range; no routine use of antibiotics and no GM ingredients. In other words, organic means working with nature, using real ingredients, with animals free to forage and graze on land that provides a home to more wildlife.
Organic food is fully traceable from farm to fork, so you can be sure of what you’re eating. Unlike non-organic food production, which often relies on manufactured fertilisers and pesticides, organic food is produced with natural fertilisers from plants, using less energy and with respect for the animals that provide it.
Organic standards means no GM crops. According to research by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, most non-organic British chickens, pigs and cows are fed with imported GM crops. GM ingredients and crops are not permitted under organic standards.
Our food and farming system is responsible for around one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s more important than ever to choose food that is good for the planet. By using fewer pesticides, it helps protect soil, water and wildlife. Organic farming can help to mitigate climate change. According to the Soil Association, if half of all farming in the European Union converted to organic by 2030, we could cut almost a quarter (23 percent) of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions simply by increased soil carbon sequestration and reduced use of mineral fertilisers.
Organic farming is also better for animals. As well as requiring that animals are genuinely free range, organic standards cover living conditions, food quality, the use of antibiotics, as well as transport and slaughter. These standards mean that animals raised organically enjoy the very highest welfare standards of farmed animals. Organic farms have 50 percent more wildlife – that means more buzzing bees, trilling birds and plants to pollinate.
Farm animals now account for almost twothirds of all antibiotics used in the EU. These are passed to us through the food chain! Choosing organic is one easy way to make sure the meat you buy comes from animals that have had access to the outdoors. Organic means happier, healthier animals which must not routinely be given antibiotics. Animals also must have access to pasture and are truly free range and must have plenty of space – which helps to reduce stress and disease.
Organic might seem more expensive but that’s when it’s compared to ultra-cheap food. A big part of the problem is that the true cost of our food isn’t reflected in the price. The reason why organic costs more are connected to the reasons people choose organic in the first place. Where there is a price difference, you are paying for the care organic farmers place on protecting the environment and improving animal welfare. Weeds can’t simply be sprayed away, which means farmers have more labour-intensive work and if we want to eat meat from animals that are not fed on genetically modified feed, then farmers must ensure their animals eat a 100 percent organic diet – which costs more.
Many food experts and chefs actually do believe that organic foods tend to taste better. Some say it tastes better because of the soil care practised by organic farmers. Healthy soils tend to mean well-nourished plants, which may yield food with a high nutritional content and better flavour. But don’t take our word for it – give organic food a try on your next shop and see for yourself if you can taste the difference! Both your body and the planet will thank you for it.
1. Shop local
Find a farm, farmers market, a local organic shop or local veg box.
2. Ask questions
Whether you are buying your food directly from the farmer or at your supermarket, do not be afraid to ask questions about whether products are certified organic and grown using organic methods.
3. Purchase organic food within your budget
Buying seasonal food, buying in bulk, joining a local co-op, or starting your own food-buying group are all ways to obtain quality organic food on a budget.
4. Buy less, but better meat
Cutting back on meat and increasing your veggie intake is good for you and the planet. Choosing organic is one of the best ways to make sure that animals have had access to the outdoors and are farmed to the highest welfare standards.
5. Avoid waste
When you buy local or organic, you tend to appreciate your food more. You use every crumb. The average household wastes an incredible 20-30 percent of the food they buy, but if you appreciate where your food comes from, you really do tend not to waste it.
Credit: The Organic Trade Board and the Soil Association are working together on Organic September – a month-long campaign to persuade more people to try organic, as a way to promote and educate people about organic food and farming practices. For more information, visit organictradeboard.co.uk or soilassociation.org
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