Learn more about organic

What’s Organic?

Certified Organic Products

Based on the a definition by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) , “Certified organic products are those which have been produced, stored, handled and marketed in accordance with precise technical specifications (standards) and certified as “Organic” by organic standards, the product can be labelled as such. It is important to note that an organic label applies to the production process, ensuring that the product has been produced and processed in an ecologically sound manner. The organic label is therefore a production process claim as opposed to the product quality claim”. Certification requires producers to record activities in their farms as well as the purchase of inputs and sales of crops or food.

In general, only products that comply with the relevant standards and are certified can be called organic. In this way, organic already defines a guaranteed quality standard, unlike other labels such as “natural”, “eco-friendly” or “biological”. The use of the latter is not controlled by an independent agency but can be applied by producers freely. For more information: http://www.ifoam.org/  

Organic Standards
Farmers are required to convert their whole farm to a sustainable organic farming system. They may not use any chemical fertiliser or other chemical substance such as pesticides and fungicides. Fertilization and crop protection must follow the organic procedures as outlined in the standards. After a conversion period of two years, a farm can be certified as organic. 

Chemical-Free Standards
Farmers who cannot meet all requirements of the organic standards can avail of a “Chemical-Free” certification. The application of any substances (fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides) on the prospective “Chemical-Free” crop is not allowed. No conversion period is required. 

 Organic food has more nutrients
On average, organic fruits and vegetables have more vitamins, minerals, and beneficial antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts do. This is the chief finding of the first major, in-depth review of the published scientific literature on the nutritional benefits of organic food completed since 2003.

 For many years it was relatively difficult to prove that organically food is superior compared to conventional one. Over two-years Charles Brendbrook and his team evaluated 100 studies, and developed methods to identify those studies that were both well-designed and carefully conducted.

In three quarters of 59 matches, the organic samples contained higher concentrations of the very important polyphenols and antioxidants which are known for their potential to lower risk of cancer. 

The magnitude of the differences in nutrient levels strongly favored the organic samples. One quarter of the matched pairs in which the organic food contained higher levels of nutrients exceeded the level in the conventional sample by 31% or more. Only 6% of the matched pairs in which the conventional sample was more nutrient dense surpassed the levels in the organic samples by 31% or more.



 The Benefits of Organic Foods

Organic foods provide a variety of benefits. Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts. In addition, people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods. In addition:

  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat. 
  • Organic food is often fresher. Fresh food tastes better. Organic food is usually fresher when eaten because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.
  • Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. In addition, organic farming is better for birds and small animals as chemical pesticides can make it harder for creatures to reproduce and can even kill them. Farming without pesticides is also better for the people who harvest our food.
  • Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. Not feeding animal byproducts to other animals reduces the risk of mad cow disease (BSE). In addition, the animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, both of which help to keep the animals healthy. The more crowded the conditions, the more likely an animal is to get sick.

Further information: http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm


Differences between conventional farming and organic farming

Conventional Farmer

Organic Farmers

Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth

Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost to feed soil and plants

Spray pesticides to reduce pests and diseases

Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and diseases

Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds

Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds

Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth

Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures – such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing – to help minimize disease.