The Lowdown on Organic Produce
What does organic actually mean?
Organic foods and other products have been grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge or ionizing radiation. Live animals used for milk, eggs or meat have had no growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.
What do I look out for on labels?
Most countries use three categories for labelling organic products, but percentages may vary by region.
If it says “100% Organic”, well, it’s 100% organic;
“Organic” means at least 95% of the ingredients are organic;
If it’s “Made with Organic Ingredients”, it means a minimum of 70% of the ingredients are organic, with restrictions on the remainder – no GMOs, for example.
Any products with less than 70% organic ingredients can’t make any organic claims, but can highlight the organic ingredients in the information panels on the packaging.
How can a farmer “go organic”?
There’s a two-year conversion process which increases the natural fertility of the land and produce grown in this year isn’t organic. The second year’s produce is “In Conversion” and the third year’s goods are organic.
Why is organic produce usually costlier?
Some products, like coffee and bread aren’t more expensive. The items that cost more do so because in many regions organic farmers don’t get the same subsidies as conventional farmers.
Additionally, conventional food doesn’t include the cost of land remediation (clean-up). Organic farming is more labour-intensive than conventional. Organic farms are usually smaller, so don’t benefit from the same economies of scale as conventional operations.
Is organic food more nutritious?
There’s no definitive proof, mainly because there are so many different soil types, crop varieties and weather conditions, as well as post-harvest handling, to consider.
A few studies have shown organic tomatoes contain more vitamin C and other phytonutrients, but it’ll be a while before we can say for certain.
Is organic food tastier?
Of course taste is an individual matter but people agree that organic meat, fruit and vegetables taste better. This is probably a combination of having been given time to develop and growing in rich soil.