Why We Should Eat Organic Food

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Published: 13th August 2012
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So, what is so good about "Organic?" Generally, it is seen as an overpriced option in the vegetable aisle of the supermarket, that has probably been produced without using pesticides. Is there more to it than that? YES!
Industrial farming really got going about forty years ago, and since then, it has caused widespread environmental devastation. Industrial farming has been considered responsible for contamination of rivers, streams and groundwater, it has driven small farmers off their land unable to keep up with the high yield opposition. These farming methods have had a terrible effect on livestock farming where animal welfare is often in a poor state. This type of farming is not sustainable and almost works against nature and not with it.
Organic farming is defined as an approach that aims to create agricultural systems that are integrated, humane, and environmentally and economically sustainable.
Organic farming looks to reduce carbon emissions by turning our soil back into an effective living carbon sink. It aims to reduce energy inputs by relying on healthy soil to increase the yields and fight pests, thus potentially cutting down on fertiliser and pesticides by over 90%. This results in reducing pollution which is an obvious benefit to our wildlife, water systems and environment. Organic farming uses water more efficiently by using healthier soils that retain and release water in a way that can cope with droughts and floods more effectively.
Another vital role that organic farming plays is the improvement of animal welfare. An example of this can be shown in dairy cows. A huge percentage of our modern dairy cows are high yield milk machines. They have been bred to produce ten times as much milk as a calf would naturally suckle, which can often lead to lameness, disease, stress and inflammation of the udder. These cows are fed high quantities of cereal based concentrated feed to keep up with their high milk production. In high producing farms, the cattle can often be kept in cubicles with metal or concrete floors and rarely go out into the open air, sometimes only to walk to the milking parlour and back again. When the cows yield drops they are slaughtered, which is usually after about four years. Cows should usually live up to about 10-12 years.
Organic farmers tend to use more native breeds of cow, that don't produce such a high yield of milk but they enjoy more home grown feed like grass, hay or silage, and tend to have less problems with disease and stress. Organic cows generally graze outdoors, and are brought in for the winter and bedded on straw with space enough to walk about. By buying organic meat you can rest assured the welfare of the animal has been of utmost importance throughout its life.
Generally if a product has an organic label, it has been certified by the Soil Association.
Of all the various labels found on food products, like 'freedom food', 'red tractor' and so on, the Organic label seems to do the most to ensure that the product is not only healthy for the planet but healthy for us too - always a good thing.
If a product carries an 'Organic' label you can be sure of the following:
• The product has been produced to a minimum EU organic standard.
• Environmentally friendly - restricted use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides maintains soil fertility.
• All animals are free range and farmers operate to high animal welfare standards.
• Antibiotics restricted.
• No growth hormones.
• No GM.
• No irradiation.
• Traceability.
• Better for wildlife.
It does not mean:
• That the product has been locally sourced.
• Consistency in standards of certifying bodies.
• Low air miles.
• Sourced from small producers.
• Minimal packaging.
In my eyes, it is essential that when choosing meat and dairy products, you choose organic. Intensively reared dairy cows and farm animals are often fed a cocktail of antibiotics, growth promoting drugs and many other unnatural products, which of course are passed directly on to the consumer. Surely, this is not a good thing.
When we see where this industrial food comes from, how it is made and the consequence of buying it, we tend to lose our appetite for eating it.
The Soil Association reckons that organic food simply tastes so much better. Fruit and veg are full of flavour - and the only way to agree with that is to try it!

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