Fascinating Facts About Organic (and Reasons to Buy More of It)
The prevalence of organic food on supermarket shelves has been growing for some time. All over the world, more people than ever before are making the conscientious decision to ‘go organic’ - partly or exclusively.
For those concerned, the potential benefits of going organic outweigh the slightly higher costs of organic produce. They know it’s better for the planet, they believe it’s better for the health and many will even tell you that it tastes better.
All assumptions born of pure speculation in most instances, as research suggests most people (understandably) don’t actually spend a great deal of time researching what ‘organic’ really means. Even those who eat predominantly organic diets may not know quite as much as they think they do about organic eating.
In an attempt to shine a little light on the whole thing, we’ve assembled a list of 10 semi-fascinating facts about organic foods and farming. After which, we’ve a roundup of several good reasons to go organic, or at least step up your consumption of organic foods.
Fact 1. Going organic is about more than food and drink
First up, anyone looking to truly ‘go organic’ needs to set their sights on more than just food and drink alone. There’s no shortage of organic store cupboard basics up for grabs, but organic production also extends to things like beauty products, furniture and clothing. Even with products you won’t be ‘consuming’ in the conventional sense, organic has a positive impact on the environment and the world in general.
Fact 2. Organic farming is far from a contemporary fad
It’s interesting and ironic how organic farming is often marketed as a cutting-edge trend for conscientious new-generation consumers. In reality, organic farming was once the only type of farming in existence. In fact, it wasn’t until as recently as the 1950s that most chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilisers went into widespread use across the world. Prior to this, you couldn’t buy anything that was not organic.
Fact 3. The UK’s organic products market share is not very big
That’s actually a major understatement, as the market for organic food and drink here in Britain is incredibly small. Estimates vary, but the National Farmers Union recently revealed that only 1.4% of the food and drink market in the country is made up of 100% organic products. Given the fact that the organic market has exploded in popularity over the past 10 years or so, this is a remarkably small share of the overall market.
Fact 4. Farms can transition to organic, but it takes time
Technically speaking, any conventional farm that wishes to go fully organic can do just that. It’s a process that involves gradually moving away from the use of non-organic products and cultivation processes, in order to subsequently be granted organic status by an authorised organic certification body. However, it is by no means an overnight transition - it typically takes around two years for a farm to fully switch from conventional cultivation to fully organic growing.
Fact 5. Denmark leads the charge for organic farming in Europe
Leagues ahead of the United Kingdom, Denmark has something of a national obsession with organic food. The whole country celebrates National Organic Day each spring, more than 50% of all consumers say they purchase organic products on a weekly basis and almost 8.5% of all food and drink sales are organic. Meanwhile, Germany is currently the biggest market for organic products in Europe, with a 11.4% share of global organic product sales.
Fact 6. Conventional farming practices cannot continue forever
The conventional farming practices followed as standard across much of the world are completely unsustainable in nature. This is due to the toll they take on agricultural land and surrounding habitat, rendering soils infertile and wiping out bee populations in their entirety. If conventional farming practices were to continue indefinitely, the damage done to the planet and its people would be irreparable. Sooner or later, something needs to change - and the point of no return really isn’t too far ahead.
Fact 7. Traditional farming produces colossal quantities of CO2
CO2 is the invisible killer that’s nonetheless having a very visible effect on the world we live in. Remarkably, a study carried out by the Rodale Institute found that 7,000lbs of CO2 could be removed from the atmosphere annually from every acre of conventional agriculture converted to organic. In context, this means that if organic became the new standard for farming in the United States, it would have the same beneficial environmental impact as removing 217 million cars from the roads.
Fact 8. It’s not as easy as you think to remove pesticides
Many people think that you can get rid of pesticides and toxic chemicals by simply scrubbing fruits and vegetables aggressively. Failing that, peeling them will get the job done, making conventional products just as safe as organic products. Unfortunately, it really isn’t quite as easy as this. When toxic compounds and chemicals are used in agriculture, they gradually seep through the skin and penetrate deep into the flesh. Right in the very centre, you’ll still routinely find traces of toxic chemicals.
Fact 9. Organic and natural are not the same thing
Technically speaking, each and every fruit and vegetable on a store shelf worldwide is a natural product. Even if it has been grown using a long list of terrifying chemicals, the resulting product is still natural by definition. Hence, when a product is labelled as ‘100% natural’ this is not the same as being ‘organic’. In fact, the ‘natural’ label on its own really does not mean a great deal at all. It can be quite misleading, so be sure to read between the lines if going organic is your aim.
Fact 10. Organic produce doesn’t have to be expensive
Last up, the key to going organic without overspending lies in taking a strategic yet simple approach to your grocery shopping. By prioritising what’s in season at the time, you need never spend over the odds on organic products. And even where the highest quality organic products are slightly more expensive, it’s a small price to pay for what you get in return.
Why Going Organic is a Good Idea
On that note, adjusting your shopping habits to include more organic products is something you’re unlikely to regret doing. If you can see past the tiny bit more money you’ll be spending, you’ll soon find that organic takes value for money to an entirely higher level.
As touched upon back at the start, motivations for going organic differ from one person to the next. Though in all instances, the benefits of eating more organic products are universal.
A few examples of which include the following:
1. You Consume Fewer Chemicals
Going organic means benefiting from the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are consuming fewer chemicals. A worrying fact to chew on - a typical apple cultivated using on a non-organic farm will test positive for traces of 20 to 30 synthetic pesticides and chemical agents. None of which are likely to do your health and wellbeing much good.
2. You Increase Your Nutrient Intake
There’s also evidence to suggest that traditional, hard-working and 100% organic cultivation processes result in produce with a higher nutrient content. Vitamins, minerals, micronutrients - all preserved with the exclusion of synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides.
3. You Do Your Bit for the Environment
Shopping for organic products is also one of the easiest ways of contributing to the cause and doing your ‘bit’. The fact that conventional farming practices are completely unsustainable says all that needs to be said about the damage they are doing to the environment. By supporting businesses that support sustainability, you get the feel-good factor that comes with knowing you’re part of the solution…not the problem.
4. You Can Really Taste the Difference
In terms of flavour and enjoyment, there really is no comparison. Even if you’re not exactly a connoisseur where fruits and vegetables are concerned, you can instantly taste the difference between low-grade mass-produced produce and something grown with real TLC. Again, adding up to a small price to pay for something that is vastly superior in every way.
5. You Get to Support Smaller Businesses
Lastly, the tiny 1.4% of the food and drink market occupied by the organic sector is populated primarily by equally tiny businesses and family farms. When you make the switch to organic, you benefit from the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting smaller businesses and giving the ‘little guy’ a chance against the biggest brands in the business. A worthy cause to support if ever there was one, which more than justifies the slightly higher prices of organic produce.