Why Choose Organic Food?
Originally only available from health-food shops or specialist retailers, organic foods and products can now be bought from many supermarkets, fresh-food markets, greengrocers – and even on the Internet.
A conventionally produced vegetable and an organically produced one can look the same – so why buy what is usually a more expensive item, and how can you tell what really is organic and what is masquerading as organic?
Understanding the label…
Labels can be very confusing; sometimes you may see a product labelled “natural”, or “all natural ingredients”, or “hormone-free”, or “free-range” – none of these are organic. Single-ingredient products like eggs, fruit and vegetables can be labelled “100% organic”, but if a product – such as a breakfast cereal – contains only certain organic ingredients, this must be stated clearly on the label.
What makes a food organic?
In most countries, it can take up to 3 years for a farm to become certified as ‘organic’, and a farmer must make significant changes to his farming, production and processing practices. A product will – by law – have had to meet certain strict criteria before it is allowed to have the word ‘organic’ in its labelling and marketing. Organic certification means long-term commitment and effort.
The word ‘organic’ refers to the way a product has been grown and processed by the farmer – whether it is a meat or dairy product, or a grain, vegetable or fruit item. Organic farming means respecting the welfare of animals, and not using conventional methods of disease prevention, weed or pest control, or soil fertilization.
Decide for yourself…
Conventional farms spray synthetic pesticides.
Organic farms use naturally occurring pesticides (e.g. sulphates, light oils, copper, pyrethrin).
Conventional farms use chemical herbicides that pollute the soil and water table.
Organic farms hand-weed, mulch or use natural compounds.
Conventional farming methods overuse the soil – depleting it of nutrients.
Organic farming methods involve crop rotation to conserve nutrients.
Conventional farms apply synthetic fertilizers.
Organic farms use natural fertilizers such as compost or manure.
Conventional farms use growth hormones to promote growth and antibiotics to prevent disease
Organic farms promote healthy livestock growth and minimise disease with a balanced diet of organic feed, outdoor access for exercise, and by rotating grazing areas.