Eating an organic diet is no longer something that is considered to be ‘food snobbery’. More and more options are becoming widely available and it is the chosen choice for many, but what does organic actually mean and what benefits does it have? Read on for a quick organic run down.
In this post I am going to give a quick run down of the main points for eating organic. If its popular, I’ll write a further in depth piece on different elements. For any of you that are interested, I eat a predominantly organic diet. I don’t like to give my diet a label but if asked I would say vegetarian. Until about 8 months ago I would have prided myself as the person who eats anything and not being fussy at all. Flavour and texture wise, that is pretty much the same. However, now I am really conscious about where my food has come from, how it has been produced, and the nutritional quality of it. Currently I am trying to cut down on dairy produce and have only eaten meat twice in the last 6 months. I will only eat organic meat for welfare purposes, that is non-negotiable. I Certainly haven’t missed it like I thought I would. I really believe you can educate people on food production in a tactful way, but people have to make their own choices and you can’t force your decisions onto others. There are many factors which effect why people eat what they do, it is not for me to judge or criticise. I don’t need to agree but I certainly wouldn’t lose friends over it.
Why eat organic?
For a food to be labelled organic it has to go through a stringent certification process, governed by European Law (America have their own governing bodies). The main one in the UK is the Soil Association, which has a brilliant website full of information. I recommend you check it out if you have any sort of interest in where your food comes from.
Organic food has fewer pesticides
Conventional food production uses a real cocktail of chemicals to help growth, increase crop yield and to keep little critters who fancy a snack away. These pesticides negatively affect the natural ecosystem and can enter our water systems, poisoning wildlife. Up to 300 different types of pesticides are routinely used in conventional production, some are washed off when preparing foods, others are not and we ingest them. Organic farming does permit the use of pesticides, however they are all natural based, such as citronella, and they are only used in specific circumstances.
Better animal welfare and no antibiotic use
Any animal based product with the organic label are always free range with no exception. They have the space and freedom to exhibit normal behaviours whilst the living conditions, diet, transportation and slaughter are all covered by the Organic Certification Standard. So no genetically modified feeds are used and they are not routinely given antibiotics. Any antibiotics that the animals eat are passed on to us, which doesn’t help the issue of the growing antibiotic resistance trend.
Organic farming preserves healthy land
Soil is a majorly important part of our environment which is often overlooked. If we don’t have healthy soil we cannot grow successful healthy rich crops. Organic farming removes the use of chemical pesticides that will mess with the soil diversity. Organic farming uses crop rotation and selects varying crops with different pest resistances to help maintain healthy land rather than dousing in chemicals. Soil also holds a great deal or carbon. Healthy soil means a better carbon holding capacity which plays a vital role in controlling the greenhouse effect.
It is better for wildlife
I think it goes without saying, but healthy land and environment plays an important part of a healthy wildlife system. The use of chemicals effects the natural behaviour and availability for wildlife to function optimally. Since the 1970’s British wildlife has declined, with a major factor being the intensive farming practices. Bee’s in particular are taking a hard hit making their pollination a whole lot harder. Organic farmers take time to maintain hedge rows, ponds, wildflowers, creating habitats for wildlife to thrive. So much so that organic farms have around 50% more variety in wildlife than conventional farms.
Nutritionally superior flavour
Some new studies are suggesting that organic food has a higher nutritional content. This has been shown in meat, fruit vegetables and crops. Personally I think food that is grown organically tastes better too, and I feel much better knowing what is in the food and that I am not eating all the chemicals.
To finish, I think its important to acknowledge that organic is more expensive than non-organic, but for me it is worth spending the extra. I would rather cut out spending on something less important and know that I am eating high quality, high welfare food. For more information check out the Soil Association website for tons of useful information.