There are three main reasons why consumers are looking increasingly towards buying organic ingredients – ethical, health and environmental – but what does organic really mean and why are organic products better for us than others on the market?
Organic…what does it really mean?
Organic produce, put simply, refers to produce that is farmed or grown in the most natural way possible and it produced without coming into contact with any genetically modifying components or synthetic chemicals such as artificial fertiliser or pesticides.
Organic livestock is farmed with a strict focus on animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Organic farming means that animals are respected and treated humanely and organic livestock must be fed organic feed and have access to the outdoors (also termed free-range). Organic animal products must also be produced in a 100% organic process in order to be certified. For example, eggs can only be considered organic if they are the product of organic chickens. Likewise, milk, cheese and other dairy products can only be termed organic if they have come from organically bred animals.
Certified or 100% organic is only applicable to those products that have been produced with no exposure or involvement of non-organic products, synthetic chemicals or additives (i.e. all aspects of the product must be considered organic).
Why buy organic?
Health: Chemicals used in conventional agriculture can remain on produce and the common medical perception is that the build up of these pesticides in our bodies over time can cause health issues such as birth defects, headaches and a weakened immune system. By eating organically farmed fruit, vegetables and livestock we can avoid putting harsh chemicals into our bodies and limit the potential for any of the associated health risks.
One other major concern with non-organic animal products is the over-use of antibiotics. In order to reduce illness and susceptibility to viruses, non-organic livestock is injected with antibiotics and inevitably a small proportion of those antibiotics may pass into the human body during consumption of these animal products. The fear is that continually and increasingly injecting animals with antibiotics will lead to the ability of viruses to adapt and withstand the antibiotics, eventually leading to the creation of superbugs. By eating organically you are avoiding this risk altogether as organic livestock has not been injected with any of these antibiotics.
Environmental: Organic farming has many benefits when it comes to protecting the environment. Organic farming not only builds healthy soil, it also helps combat erosion and protects our drinking water. Water run-off from non-organic farms that utilise pesticides and artificial fertilisers can contaminate rivers, lakes and reservoirs, which can be harmful to both humans and wildlife. Organic farming is more sustainable as it is conducted with a better understanding of the environment and aims to maintain the natural state of eco-systems.
Taste: Organic produce often looks less ‘clean’ than other products but it is actually much fresher, as it has not been in contact with any additives and synthetic chemicals that are designed to keep food fresher for longer. This means that organic produce has a shorter shelf life but also ensures that you are consuming a fresher product and one that is free from hidden nasties!
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