You’ve heard the term and seen the labels in stores, but what is the organic movement all about and why should you be paying attention? Let’s break it down…
What does the term “organic food” mean?
“Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.” – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK.
Ok, that’s a lot to take in, and we’ll break down each of these terms in subsequent blogs, but basically organic is an approach to farming that is kinder to the environment, safer for human consumption and supports one’s healthy growth and wellbeing. In South Africa organic farming is a growing trend and we support it 100%!
How is organic agriculture defined?
According to the South African Organic Sector Organisation (SAOSO), organic agriculture is “a whole system approach based upon a set of processes resulting in a sustainable ecosystem, safe food, good nutrition, animal welfare and social justice.Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.” Sounds great, but let’s break that down further…
SAOSO defines four key principles of organic agriculture:
- HEALTH: Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet.
- ECOLOGY: Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles and work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
- FAIRNESS: Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.
- CARE: Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
Why do we think organic farming practices are good for the environment?
- Although there is little scientific evidence of environmental benefits from organic farming, the fact is that the use of non-toxic fertilizers non-GMO seeds in organic farming is climate friendly.
- Organic, fresh produce is usually farmed and sold at a local community level, thereby cutting out transportation and reducing carbon emissions believed to be a contributor to global warming.
- Organic farming improves soil carbon, which is the basis of soil fertility, thereby ensuring long-term sustainability and nutrient rich food production.
It provides favourable conditions for earth worms and bees (biodiversity) to thrive, which in turn drives the food cycle.
- The waste generated by organic farming provides the basis for nutrient-rich compost used throughout the farming process.
- Organic farming methods rely on ecological processes, biodiversity and planting cycles adapted to local climatic conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
Does this mean that organic food is better for our bodies?
We believe so. While reports may vary, there is growing evidence to support the belief that organic food has more nutrients than conventional farmed foods, which is obviously better for the body. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition it is reported that there are between 18% and 69% more antioxidants in organically produced food. Organic food does not contain chemicals passed on from the synthetic fertilisers which toxify the body, since organic farming methods prohibit the use of chemical fertilisers and GMO- seeds and use all-natural ingredients.
While the long-term effects of chemical residue in conventional fresh produce is also widely debated, we believe that the impact is far more deep-reaching than can be imagined. This also begs the question: Why would you risk consuming foods that have been modified with chemicals you don’t know anything about?
This is just the start of our deep-dive into the mass of information that is out there, so stay tuned as we help you decipher it all, so you can make better decisions about your food.