Why Organic Matters & How to Get Started
We all know a little bit about what it means to grow, purchase, and consume organic produce, and why it's important for both people and planet. We're also aware that being in a position to make a choice about where and how we shop is a huge privilege. For many it might just not be an option, especially when there are a few myths out there around organic farming and consuming (more on that soon) - but our hope is that by understanding a little bit more about what 'organic'' means, and how we can implement it into our daily lives even in the smallest of ways, we can hopefully make organic more accessible for everyone.
What does Organic actually mean?
When we think about organic produce, the first thing we think of is food - and that's a great place to start, but producing to an organic system and standard goes way beyond food and farming - it applies to the clothes we wear and the materials it takes to make them and the products we use in our homes - it basically applies to anything that contains some forms of natural ingredients.
When it comes to food, The Soil Association are a great resource who are leading the way when it comes to making sure we eat, farm and care for our natural world in the best possible way.
"Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.
In the face of climate change, diet related ill-health and widespread decline in wildlife, the need to change our food systems has never been greater - a transition towards 'agroecological' farming systems, like organic, can make a world of difference." Soil Association
Whether we're talking about food or other organic products it's important to recognise when something is organic - check for labels and certifications, but don't stop there because things can still be organic but not have an official certification. Produce that is grown and made by smaller and more local suppliers (for example Hemp North or ) certifications are expensive and lengthy, so this may not be an option. By understanding what organic means and knowing what to look out for, we can still opt for the better produce without necessarily choosing a certified product. A good tip - ask! Most small ethical businesses wholeheartedly care about what and how they are doing things, and they are more than happy to talk about their products and processes, so send an email or pick up the phone).
Instead of relying on pesticides, organic farmers aim to create a natural balance between plants and animals to prevent pests. Healthy wildlife populations can help control pests; farmers encourage birds, beetles and other 'beneficial insects' (like ladybirds) on to their farms to eat pests like aphids, slugs and caterpillars.
No artificial fertilisers
Keeping soils healthy is at the heart of organic farming. Organic farming avoids the use of synthetic fertilisers, as the principles of organic farming are based on nourishing plants naturally, by building fertile soils.
No artificial colours and preservatives - the use of additives and processing aids is heavily restricted in organic products, and organic standards prohibit the use of toxic ingredients.
Why is organic so important?
1. It's better for the planet
2. It has higher animal welfare standards
3. It's better for wildlife
4. It's better for people
Our five fave ways to get involved...
Make one small swap to an organic cuppa - we drink around 100 million cups of tea and 95 million coffees a day in the UK - Our collective choices all add up - more demand for organic food and drink means more people casting a vote for farms that support wildlife and healthy soils.
Turn your garden organic – from peat-free compost to pollinator-friendly plants, it's one of the easiest ways you can champion healthy soils and biodiverse wildlife populations from the comfort of your home! Getting our hands in the soil is so important for reconnecting with where our food comes from. Growing your own organic herbs at home is an easy place to start at any time of year, and you won’t need much more than a windowsill to get going.
Support your local organic farmers – there's so many benefits to subscribing to a fruit and veg box (like The Paddock, which you can collect from us). You'll be joining a community of amazing citizens, farmers and organisations who are making sure the way we farm and eat is better for our health, better for nature and wildlife, and better for the climate too. Here's where speaking with your local suppliers can really help, as you may not find the official certification, but when it comes to their practices, the chances are they tick all the boxes.
Stand up for sustainable beauty and household products – the same rules apply, look out for the Soil Association symbol on beauty and wellbeing products (and the leaping bunny) or check out the brand before making your purchase - you'll be supporting businesses that don't test on animals or use controversial chemicals, parabens and phthalates, synthetic dyes or fragrances in return.
Recognise your power as a citizen! We are all food citizens, with the power to change our food systems from the ground up. From the food we buy, to the things we grow and make at home, all the positive food choices we make can add up to make a world of difference - let us know how you get on, and we're always here to help!