In the face of climate change, diet related ill health, and widespread decline in wildlife, the need to change our food systems has never been greater!
We are supporting Organic September; a month long campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of organic food and farming. Read on to find out more…
What is organic food?
Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.
In the face of climate change, diet related ill-health and widespread decline in wildlife, the need to change our food systems has never been greater – a transition towards ‘agroecological’ farming systems, like organic, can make a world of difference.
No other defined system of farming and food production comes close to delivering so many benefits for wildlife, society, and the natural world. Organic farmers work to a strict set of standards, which must legally comply with strict EU regulation, to ensure that their farms sustain the health of:
These standards are built on the key principles of organic agriculture:
Certification is legally required to grow, process or market organic products, and all organic farms and companies are inspected by a certification body, at least once a year. This means when you see the organic symbol, you can trust that the food and drink you buy has been made in a way that is better for people, animals and wildlife, and respects the natural environment.
The way we farm and eat can make a world of difference; organic is an ‘agroecological’ farming system that offers many benefits.
- It’s better for the planet
- It has higher animal welfare standards
- It’s better for wildlife
- It’s better for people
It is better for the planet
Designed to respect nature and to enhance the health of soils, water and air, organic farming is leading the way on sustainability.
In fact, if Europe’s farmland all followed organic principles, agricultural emissions could drop by 40-50% by 2050, with plenty to feed the growing population healthy diets.
Organic farmers are encouraged to ‘close the loop’ on their farms, making use of what’s to hand and limiting the use of imported resources.
This means no artificial fertilisers, healthier soils that store more carbon and meat that is more environmentally friendly.
Has higher welfare for farm animals
Ensuring all animals reared for meat and animal products have a good life is at the heart of Soil Association standards.
Organic farming has the highest animal welfare standards of any international farming system; this means truly-free range animals, encouraged to forage, graze and roam, with plenty of space, fresh air, and conditions that allow them to express their natural behaviours.
Is better for nature and wildlife
41% of Britain’s wildlife species have declined since 1970, and more than 1 in 10 are currently facing extinction. Intensive farming practices, especially pesticide use, have been identified as the main driver of these declines, but organic farming offers an alternative.
Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies. On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, and there are around 75% more wild bees on organic farms. There are several reasons for this.
Organic farmers use fewer pesticides
And only under very restricted circumstances. Organic farmers rely on a whole ecosystem to keep pests under control, where animals like beetles and birds feed on pests such as aphids and slugs.
If pesticides were substituted for more sustainable farming practices like organic, this could slow or reverse the decline in insects!
Land use on organic farms is more nature-friendly
Did you know? For every 10% increase in bee-friendly habitats – like that found on organic farms – bee numbers and diversity increase by over a third!
Because organic farmers rely on healthy ecosystems to control pests and protect their soils, they tend to farm in a way that encourages wildlife, like planting trees, ‘beetle banks’ and wildflower margins, and digging ponds around their fields. This means organic farms are more ecologically diverse.
Organic farming supports cleaner water for wildlife
The nitrogen fertilisers used in conventional farming can create ‘ocean dead zones’ which deprive life below water of vital oxygen. This can kill fish and other aquatic life. Organic standards ban the use of these manufactured fertilisers, lowering the risk of pollution in rivers, seas and waterways.
It is better for People
You might be asking yourself if organic food is safer than conventional products.
Organic farming joins the dots between our own health and the health of our planet, our animals and our wildlife:
- Fewer pesticides
- Fewer additives and preservatives
- No GM ingredients
- Reduced use of antibiotics
- More resilient farms
- Nutritionally different food
Eating organic food means supporting a way of farming that works for people long into the future – from farmers out in the fields to those tucking in at home.