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Organic Food

Organic Food  - Organic Food
Organic Food
Right up until the 20th centuary organic food was all you could get - it wasn't until synthetic chemicals were introduced to argiculture that organic food started to disappear from the shelves, replaced with foods grown or produced with chemical aid or enhancement.

Organic Food - Then...

The Green Revolution, which began in the 1940s, saw farmers and food producers turning away from traditional techniques and increasingly relying on chemically-enhanced pesticides, fertilizers, irradiation, genetic modification and addiditives (E numbers etc).

In response to this change, the organic movement was born: food produced without chemical or artificial involvement became known as organic food.

Back then, "know your farmer, know your food" was the motto for those who wanted to eat organic. Whether or not food was organic was down to the consumer to find out as no recognized certification was available.

In 1946, the Soil Association was set up in Suffolk to monitor the affects of changes in agriculture following the war. The Soil Association were chiefly concerned with the loss of soil through erosion and depletion; decreased nutritional quality of intensively produced food; exploitation of animals in intensive units and the impact of large intensive farming system on the countryside and wildlife.

Results weren't as clear cut as they'd hoped but their good intentions were and in 1967, they drew up standards that aimed to focus their efforts. 

By 1973 they'd set up an organic certification system which is now used to identify 80 per cent of British organic food and is lauded by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall as one of the most reliable indications of better animal welfare.

In the 1980's organic food saw a rise in popularity as it became available in supermarkets and characters in BBC Radio 4's long-running countryside soap The Archers turned their farm organic.

Still, it wasn't until 1992 that the British government legislated on organic food. Building on the Agricultural Marketing Act 1983 and the European Economic Community's 1991 regulations on organic foods, they stipulated that only foods that were 50 per cent "organic" could be labeled and sold as such without penalty.

Organic Food - Now...

The Organic Products Regulations have been amended year-on-year and they now recognize The Soil Association as the government approved certification system. Farmers and producers must pay £182 (amended in 2010) and pass certain criteria for certification.

Though organic foods are high in price - mainly due to the fact that organic farms yield around 20% less produce than there chemically-enhanced counterparts (and, we suspect, general greed for higher profits) - they are still growing in popularity.

Many assume organic foods are better for you and contain more nutritional benefits but in fact no compelling evidence for this has ever been validated. It all depends on how foods are harvested, how fresh they are, how they're stored... any initial advantage is essentially lost in the processing.

Organic foods are, however, better for the and - in terms of meat and diary - often represent significant improvements in welfare and quality of life for the animals involved.

Flavor, quality and longevity are also improved but the evidence for this is largely anecdotal and subjective.

Go Organic...

Riverford Organic - delivery vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat and diary. Boxes from £9.85
Able & Cole - delivery vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat and diary. Boxes from £8.50
Farm Around - London-based delivery organic veg and fruit. Boxes from £7
Well Hung Meat Company - delivery organic meat. Monthly boxes from £59
Rother Valley Organics - delivery organic meat. Monthly boxes from £43.99


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