What is Organic?

Soil Association Organic Logo

Organically grown crops and organically reared animals mean natural and ethical methods of food production.

Organic Crops: The key reasons behind the "organic" idea are building soil fertility and ensuring crop rotation. Organic farmers and growers rely on animal manure and nitrogen-rich natural composts. Problems like disease, pest and weed problems that are otherwise controlled by spraying crops with chemicals are avoided by promoting good soil fertility, crop rotation (planting crops in different fields and rotating them), choosing the right crops so nutrients are replaced as well as used, timing cultivation so that crops are grown within their natural season, and through habitat management to encourage beneficial wildlife. The Soil Association has produced standards which describe what is required in order to qualify for organic status.

Organically Reared Animals: Animal welfare is very important to organic farmers who aim to manage their animals in ways that enable the animals to express natural behaviour patterns. For information specific to organic meat, we recommend looking at the company values of the amusingly named (and award-winning) Well Hung Meat Company (http://www.wellhungmeat.com/beliefs.php).

Organic foods can cost more, particularly in supermarkets. This reflects the fact that 80% of organic food is imported. Supporting local and organic producers together will open up more opportunities for organic growers in this country and make it more widely available at a lower price and with less impact on the environment. Check out the Supermarkets and local shops pages for more info.

    Ten Reasons to Eat Organic

  1. Healthier produce:

    On average, organic food contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  2. No nasty additives:

    Organic food does not contain food additives which can cause health problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines and hyperactivity. Amongst the additives banned by the Soil Association are hydrogenated fat, aspartame (the controversial artificial sweetener) and monosodium glutamate.
  3. Avoids pesticides:

    Over 400 chemical pesticides are routinely used in conventional farming and residues are often present in non-organic food. The UK government has recently found high levels of pesticide residues in baby food, spinach, dried fruit, bread, apples, celery, and chips.
  4. GM-free:

    Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards. Look at the GM page for more information
  5. Reliance on drugs removed:

    There is growing concern about the routine high use of antibiotics on farm animals and the possible effects on human health. Soil Association standards prohibit the routine use of antibiotics.
  6. No hidden costs:

    Compared with the 120m that tax payers fork out to pay for chemicals to be removed from drinking water, mainly as a result of the pesticides used in farming.
  7. Top for taste:

    Many people prefer organic food because they say it tastes better. A number of top chefs choose organic, and every year many are involved in the Soil Association's Organic Food Awards.
  8. High standards:

    The standards for organic food are laid down in European law so organic food comes from trusted sources. All organic farms and food companies are also inspected at least once a year.
  9. Care for animals:

    Animal welfare is taken very seriously under organic standards and is supported by animal rights organisations such as Compassion in World Farming as well as the UK government.
  10. Good for wildlife and the environment:

    The UK government has said that it is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide - the main global warming gas - and less dangerous wastes.

For more information, we recommend: