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Organic - what's the big deal?!

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

By opting for organic next time you shop, you’re helping support a way of farming that:

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

Organic farming lowers the risk of environmental pollution and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by severely restricting the use of manufactured chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which come from burning fossil fuels.

Instead, organic farmers must use build fertile soils naturally, using compost and manure (often sourced from their own farm or local herds), and rotate their crops to keep soils healthy.

Synthetic nitrogen fertilisers are also responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Healthier soils, that store more carbon

Soil is one of our most important tools in the fight against climate change – there are 2,500 billion tonnes of carbon stored in the world’s soils! That’s more than in the plants, trees and the atmosphere combined.

Organic farming creates healthy, living soils by nourishing them with compost, nitrogen-fixing crops, and crop rotations. As a result, organic farmland stores (or ‘sequesters’) more carbon – on average 3.5 tonnes extra for every hectare), and organic soils are around 25% more effective at storing carbon in the long-term.

Instead, organic farmers must use build fertile soils naturally, using compost and manure (often sourced from their own farm or local herds), and rotate their crops to keep soils healthy.

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 a number of 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 increases 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.

And 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.

The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible - Albert Howard

For a food product to be labelled as organic, every step in the supply chain, from farmers and packers to food processors and shops that sell organic products, must meet organic standards and prove it to an organic certification body, like Soil Association Certification.

Soil Association Certification certify over 70% of organic food in the UK, meaning that wherever you see the organic symbol, you can be sure that you're buying:

Food that contains fewer pesticides. The best way to reduce your exposure to pesticides in food is to buy organic. Certified organic food, including fruit and vegetables, processed food products will, overall, contain less pesticides.

As mentioned above, pesticides are named as a key driver of insect and pollinator decline. Three quarters of our food crops depend on pollinators, and without them, we wouldn’t have some of our favourite, and most nutritious foods, like potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, coffee, chocolate!

Fewer additives and preservatives. The use of additives and processing aids is heavily restricted in organic. Organic standards prohibit:

  • Hydrogenated fats
  • Controversial artificial food colourings, sweeteners and preservatives, like tartrazine and aspartame
  • And prevent organic fruit and vegetables from being washed in chlorine
  • No GM ingredients: Organic food systems are opposed to GM, for environmental, health and social reasons, and all GM ingredients are banned under organic standards.

Their limited capability, plus the high cost of producing a commercial GM crop, means that the technology is often targeted at profitable, but short-term fixes that don’t address root causes.

Food produced using fewer antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining their ability to cure life-threatening infections. The more sparingly we use our antibiotics, the more effective they will remain.

With farm animals accounting for 30% of all antibiotics used in the UK, organic farming standards, which ban the routine use of antibiotics, can help minimise antimicrobial resistance and protect the effectiveness of these treatments.

Food from more resilient farms. In the face of changing weather patterns on a warming planet, organic farms are more resilient to the effects of climate change; soils on organic farms store up to twice as much water, helping to protect against flooding, and performing better during drought.

What’s more, because organic farms are more diverse, using methods like agroforestry to grow other crops, organic farmers are less dependent on the success of a single crop, offering alternatives in the event of crop failures or volatile markets.

Producing food that's nutritionally different. The hard work organic farmers put into caring for their crops pays off in the quality of the food they produce. Research has found significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic farming.

What's more, organically produced crops (cereals, fruit and vegetables) were found with up to 68% more antioxidants than non-organic, whilst organic fruit and veg contained lower concentrations of pesticides and the toxic heavy metal cadmium.

Inspired to check out what's in-store that's Organic? Click here >> https://karrysdeli.com/collections/organic

Adapted from an article with full written rights from the Soil Association on this page: https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/why-organic/

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