|What Exactly Does ‘Organic’ Mean?|
Organic food is produced according to certain legally regulated standards. When a product has been certified as organic, it means that the producer has undergone a lengthy inspection process. This process authenticates that the growing and manufacturing of the product adheres to worldwide standards based on the principles and practices of organic food and fibre production. Once the grower or producer has gained certification, each year an inspection is required for certification to continue.
Organic farming and food production aims to produce goods that work in harmony with, and not against, nature. For crops, it means they were grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers and processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. For animals, it means they were reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. Organic food is always produced without the use of genetically modified organisms (organisms that have had their basic gene structure modified by the addition of external organism genes).
Organic farming has obvious benefits of to the environment. Since only natural pesticides and fertilizers are used there is a better ecological balance maintained in the areas in and surrounding the farm. Keeping chemicals off the land also protects water quality. Organic farming produces nutrient rich, fertile soil which nourishes the plants. It has been claimed that the soil of organically grown crops retains more water and therefore crops perform better during times of drought.
There are many health benefits to organically grown foods. Organically grown produce contains a higher percentage of vitamins. Pesticides and herbicides used in conventional farming practises have been linked to increased risks of cancer, reproductive problems and neurological damage. For those who work on the farms the benefits of organic farming are even greater. Studies on farm workers have revealed that the regular exposure to these chemicals can result in severe health problems such as respiratory problems, memory disorders, dermatologic conditions, cancer, depression, neurological deficits, miscarriages, and birth defects.
Organic food is also often linked with the fair trade movement, which is based on the principle that social and environmental sustainability are inextricably interdependent. This added to the health and environmental benefits of organic farming are compelling reasons to pay that little bit more and enjoy food that is much tastier.