Organic – what does it mean

My grandad always insisted that all matter was organic and he just didn’t get the whole organic concept. Pedantic though he was, I still do get asked what is organic. So here are the basics with thanks to the Soil Association.

  • Organic Systems recognise that our health is directly connected to the health of the food we eat and, ultimately, the health of the soil.
  • Organic farmers aim to produce good food from a balanced living soil. Strict regulation, standards, define what they can and can’t do. They place strong emphasis on protecting the environment.
  • They use crop rotations to make the soil more fertile. For example, a farmer might graze sheep on a field one year, making he soil more fertile, then plant wheat the next and so on.
  • They can’t grow genetically modified crops and can only use – as a last resort- seven of the hundreds of pesticides available to farmers.
  • Parasite problems in farm animals are controlled through regularly moving the animals to fresh pasture an other preventative methods, rather than routinely dosing the animals with drugs.
  • Organic farming severely restricts the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Instead, organic farmers rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops.
  • animals are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive livestock farming.

The word organic is defined by law (sorry grandad). Any food labeled organic must meet a strict set of standards, so always look for the symbols.

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