I frequently get asked ‘why do you and your family eat organically?’.
People generally want to know the benefits of organic produce over conventional and whether it’s actually worth the greater financial investment, particularly when they have more than one mouth to feed. For me, and for many others, organic food is one variable I can control as a way of minimizing the overall toxic load to my own family. Plus it has so much more flavour (well I think so anyway!).
So what does ‘organic’ mean in Australia?
Australian Organic, one of the country’s largest organic certifiers (look out for the ACO bud logo), sets an organic standard for all producers that prohibits the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals including pesticides, insecticides and fungicides. This basically means that to keep bugs and diseases away, farmers will look instead to natural methods such as crop rotation and companion planting, as well as applying natural pest control such as bio pesticides, which are derived from plant, animal or mineral sources.
Being an organic producer in Australia means all farming practices prioritises the impact on the environment and the humane treatment of animals. Organic farming systems regenerate the soils, ensures the land is more resilient during climate shifts, increases biodiversity, reduces chemical runoff into our waterways, reduces landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces exposure to chemical hormone disruptors and neuro-toxins.
Organic farming is also a lot more labour intensive. Farms utilise the best of both traditional agriculture and modern techniques, using nature and natural processes as the foundation of all decisions in keeping the soils healthy so the produce and animals can thrive. I can totally empathise as I’ve seen the work it takes to grow my own tiny little backyard veggie garden without chemicals. Although I love the idea of eating from my own patch, the work and dedication required to grow organic produce is mighty and therefore choosing to purchase certified organic is by far, the next best thing!
I can’t afford to go completely organic. Where should I start?
It can seem overwhelming to transition to 100% organic, as well as, financially unfeasible for some. The good news is that when it comes to reducing our exposure to toxins, every little change is a positive step forward. Pesticide residues tend to be highest the further up the food chain you go so changing your meat, eggs and dairy is a good place to start.
Also, purchase produce that is in season. Seasonal fruit and vegetables that are more available will obviously be cheaper. Plus, freshly picked food always taste better.
You could start with the most consumed products in the home or choose produce that you eat the skin on, such as strawberries and potatoes, as the skins hold that most chemical residues. Starting with a few key fruits and vegetables, eggs and milk can still make a difference in supporting the health of your family, the environment and the farming industry.
The more people that choose certified organics, the more sustainable the industry and, over time, the less financially onerous it will be.
I don’t have access to organic food. What can I do?
If you live in a remote area with no organic farmer’s market or health shop nearby, you can still benefit by choosing to grow as much as you can. You could even start a community garden or even a local exchange program with others in your area for any excess fruit and vegetables from everyone’s veggie patch or chicken coup.
Source out your local farms. It is an excellent way to support local farmers and purchase seasonal produce. Whilst we are not all surrounded by organic farms, buying local is the next best thing.
Still on the fence? Here are 5 more reasons “going organic” makes sense:
- It tastes way better thanks to the absence of chemicals and preservatives. (I personally tested this theory by giving my children some organic and conventional broccoli and they all chose the organic variety. The proof is in the pudding.)
- It has more nutrients. Many organic fruits and vegetables have shown higher concentrations of antioxidants than their conventional counterparts. Plus, the absence of toxins is also going to benefit your health.
- Organic also means GMO free, which means your food hasn’t begun in a laboratory – that one’s a no brainer.
- It’s better for the environment and far more sustainable in the long term.
- You get to buy in season. Buying organically often means you are eating produce that is in season and is therefore fresher, has travelled less miles and tastes far superior to that year old apple you bought from the supermarket.