We believe that organic farming recognises the direct connection between our health and the food we eat alongside supporting the environment. Here are the reasons why (copy provided by the Soil Association – follow the links to more information on their website):
The most up-to-date research shows that organic crops are of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts. The peer reviewed research, a ‘meta-analysis’ of 343 previous studies by Newcastle University, and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, has found significant differences between organic and non-organic farming.
The research, presents strong evidence that switching to food produced using organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants, without increased calories, as well as a reduced intake of potentially harmful cadmium and pesticides. The message is clear: how we farm can affect the quality of the food we eat. Organic is different.
You can be safe in the knowledge that hydrogenated fats and controversial additives like aspartame, tartrazine and MSG are banned under organic standards.
The Soil Association’s definition of organic farming recognises the direct connection between our health and how the food we eat is produced. Artificial fertilisers are banned and farmers develop fertile soil by rotating crops and using compost, manure and clover.
Strict regulations, known as ‘standards’, define what organic farmers can and cannot do – and place a strong emphasis on the protection of wildlife and the environment.
Taking its name from the organic matter that farmers use as an alternative to synthetic fertilisers, organic farmers take a holistic, principled approach that respects and harnesses the power of natural processes to build positive health across the ecology of the farm.
Over the last 50 years the UK has witnessed a steep decline in wildlife. One way to help reverse this is by supporting organic farming. Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies.
Organic farming depends on encouraging a diverse ecosystem to maintain soil fertility and to keep pests under control naturally. It does this by encouraging nature’s own predators by maintaining hedgerows and creating open, ‘wild’ spaces at the side of fields, and changing the crops planted each season, to keep soil fertile and avoid the need for chemicals.
In non-organic farming around 31,000 tonnes of chemicals are used each year in the UK to kill weeds, insects and other pests that attack crops. Organic farming uses mainly natural methods, developing good soil and healthy crops which have a strong natural resistance to pests and diseases. The UK Government has said that organic farming is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide and fewer dangerous wastes.
Organic standards put animal welfare first. As well as requiring that animals are genuinely free range, organic standards cover living conditions, food quality, the use of antibiotics and hormones, as well as transport and slaughter. These standards mean that animals raised in organic systems enjoy the very highest welfare standards of farmed animals.
A healthy animal is better able to resist disease than a stressed one. Organic livestock farming aims to prevent disease from occurring by promoting health. This is achieved through appropriate diet, high welfare standards for housing, amount of housing space for each animal, and taking measures to reduce stress.
GM crops and ingredients are banned under organic standards. Choosing organic is an effective way to avoid GM in your diet.
The Soil Association campaigns against the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in human and animal food and on the commercial planting of GM crops in the UK. Although GM production is not allowed in the UK, over a million tonnes of GM crops are imported each year to feed non-organic pork, bacon, milk, cheese and other dairy products in our supermarkets.