What is Organic?

Organic food is produced according to a set of principles and standards concerning issues such as – pesticides, additives, animal welfare and sustainability. The main accreditation body in the UK is the Soil Association.

Popularity of Organic Food Sales of organic produce have continued to grow year on year, with major supermarkets all now having organic ranges.

Popularity has also increased through box schemes, mail order and many of the public now go directly to the farmer for produce.

Is Organic Food Better?

Most people choose organic food because of concerns over pesticides, as in conventional farming, around 350 pesticides are permitted.

The organic movement aims for food that is produced as naturally as possible. It should be free from trans-fats, genetically modified organisms and most additives. The soil association also encourages high standards of animal welfare – e.g. good living conditions, misuse of antibiotics.

Nutritionally, the evidence is still inconclusive to whether organic food is ‘better’. Some studies have shown that organic crops contain more vitamins and antioxidants (in carrots & milk), but this is still not proven. It is suggested that organic food tastes better – but this is down to personal preference.

Environmentally, organic farms promote biodiversity as the lack of pesticides encourages wildlife. They also use ‘less invasive’ farming methods.

However, organic food can be environmentally bad. Most organic food is brought from abroad (air miles) to keep up with consumer demand.

Why does Organic cost more?

Organic production is slower and more labour intensive than conventional methods. Cost can be lower if you buy in season and locally. However on average, organic food is 63% more expensive.

Overall it is a personal decision whether or not to buy organic, but most consumers are still put off by the cost.

The best organic food you can get is if you grow it yourself – then you know exactly what you are getting!

Written By Gemma Webster BSc Public Health Nutrition & Fitness Instructor.