Image by Eric.Parker via Flickr
Now you have returned home, remember how good food tasted on holiday?
It was probably organic – local – and seasonal
So it helps if you keep an eye on what you buy, make sure you are getting same benefits and keep up the ‘holiday feeling’.
During cancer treatment you probably had an interview with a dietician, who told you all sorts of things about what you should or should not eat – but didn’t have much time to tell you why.
But now, almost every day there is something in the paper about food – or on TV – telling you what to eat, and making you feel guilty.
So I asked Clio Turton, press office manager at the Soil Association,
to give the lowdown on organic food and farming, and how to eat healthily
“For many years the UK’s organic food market enjoyed extraordinary double digit growth, moving from niche to mainstream and becoming ever more accessible.
However, the first negative growth (-12.9%) was experienced in 2009 against the backdrop of massive economic turmoil and in line with many other sectors. Last year this slowed to -5.9% but value food items still came up trumps with the majority of cash-strapped shoppers, as people reprioritised budgets and changed their purchasing habits.
The dip can also be attributed to supermarkets reducing shelf space for organic products. 72% of organic food is bought through multiple retailers, so even if shoppers wanted to make more ethical purchases the choice was not available.
But organic food is much more then a passing trend or diet fad. Organic farming techniques are recognised worldwide as being part of the solution to future proofing our food supplies, improving the environmental impact of agriculture and helping to grow healthy crops in the context of dwindling natural resources and the rising cost of farm inputs such as fossil fuel based artificial fertilisers and phosphates.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said earlier this year: “Organic farmers are the pioneers of sustainable farming and have valuable lessons to pass on to the rest of the sector.” Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice echoed this when he said that organic principles lead the way on sustainable farming and organic farming should be fostered for this reason.
Since 2001 the increasingly urgent issues of food security, climate change, resource depletion, a move to increasingly industrialised farming systems, and a heightened awareness of the need to protect our environment and biodiversity, have strengthened the argument in favour of more sustainable food and farming, such as organic. In short organic food is produced from farming systems which work with nature, which are kind to animals, avoid the use of pesticides and prohibit synthetic fertilisers and Genetic Modification (GM). In processed food, hydrogenated fats, GM ingredients and controversial additives are banned including aspartame, tartrazine, and MSG.
Why this is good for you
As well as being better for you and your family, there are compelling environmental reasons to support organic food and farming –
- organic farms have 50% more wildlife
- cause less pollution
- and generally release less greenhouse gases than non-organic farming.
Food and farming have a vital role to play when it comes to our impact on climate. Farming is responsible for 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 30% of our individual carbon footprint is down to our food choices making food the single most important, everyday way to reduce our impact on the planet.
Scientific evidence proves that low input farming systems, such as organic, can provide sustainable solutions to food security. A report by the IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development),, the largest scientific farming study ever conducted, involving 400 scientists, and approved by over 60 countries, found no clear role for GM crops in feeding the world, and backed organic farming and similar ‘agro-ecological’ approaches as part of a ‘radical change’ in the way the world needs to produce food.
Next month brings us the Soil Association’s Organic September, the UK’s biggest celebration of all things organic. Watch out for events up and down the country on organic farms, in schools, cafes, restaurants and on a high street near you. Look out also for special offers on organic products in supermarkets and independent food stores.
Kicking off events will be the ever popular Organic Food Festival taking place on 3 & 4 September at Bristol Harbourside. Now in its eleventh year the festival celebrates the full spectrum of organic fare with hundreds of stalls selling delicious food and drink, organic clothes and beauty products.
To coincide with the month and to inspire people to cook with seasonal organic ingredients the Soil Association has collected a mouth-watering array of recipes from renowned chefs and food writers including Allegra McEvedy, Darina Allen, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jane Baxter, Raymond Blanc, Sophie Grigson, Valentine Warner, and Xanthe Clay – all available on our website. The delicious recipes are based on ingredients which are seasonal to September and include Caponata, Green Bean Sabzi, Sweetcorn and Pepper Relish, and Lemony Courgettes on Toast. For those with a sweet tooth, desserts include Apple Granita, Blackberry and Apple Muffins, Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies, and Raspberry Millefeuille.
The Big Organic Eat-In
The Soil Association is encouraging supporters to organise an organic food fundraiser to raise money for the Soil Association and help our work toward a more sustainable food and farming future. Whether it’s a dinner, a breakfast, a bake sale, or a pot-lunch at work, our resources and recipes can be adapted to make your event a great success.
Find out more about the Soil Association, Organic September and the Big Organic Eat-In – free recipes available to inspire cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients:
SOURCING ORGANIC FOOD NEAR YOU
Organic Box schemes
Organic Box schemes deliver organic produce straight to your door or your office. There are lots of box schemes available, check the Soil Association website for your nearest supplier. The two biggest, nationwide suppliers are:
Abel & Cole Ltd – www.abelandcole.co.uk
08452 626262 / email@example.com
Riverford Organic Vegetables – www.riverford.co.uk/wash
0845 600 2311 / firstname.lastname@example.org
You can search for your nearest certified Farmers Market at the National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association website – www.farma.org.uk
Community Supported Agriculture
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and the local community, providing mutual benefits and reconnecting people to the land where their food is grown. Find out more about CSAs and if there is one near you – www.soilassociation.org/csa