This year has seen more changes than any of us could have imagined. The global health pandemic of 2020 has caused the world to collectively pause, and as this pause provokes thought, we know many of you are looking to the future and what it may hold. That you’re seeking solutions to the pretty important questions surrounding our health and impact on the planet.
This year’s organic September—a wonderful initiative set up by the Soil Association—is the perfect opportunity to celebrate organic farming and talk about why choosing organic is a breath of fresh air.
Like getting deep? Us too. Let’s dive in…
first step, what exactly is organic?
Organic is a farming system that doesn’t rely on the use of pesticides, fertilisers, harmful chemicals or genetically modified organisms.
Choosing organic means supporting a holistic and sustainable way of farming that works for the health of our planet and people—from the farmers out in the fields to you.
There are so many positives when it comes to organic farming practices.
the link between organic, soil fertility & climate change
Did you know that regeneration of our soil is one of the most important tools for combating climate change? This is because soils are one of the biggest stores of carbon. Healthy soils contain three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests. But soil erosion and fertility loss lead to a decline in soil’s ability to carry out basic ecosystem services.
Organic soil is healthy, natural soil. This lies at the heart of organic farming. By selecting varieties of crop that have natural resistance to particular pests and diseases, the need for use of chemicals is reduced. Organic farmers also rotate their crops to build soil fertility and enhance soil life.
Organic soil is able to store up to twice as much water, which is not only essential for preventing flooding, but droughts, too, as crops will have a longer life.
working with nature to support biodiversity
Choosing organic means that we are helping to protect wildlife. Organic farmers don’t rely on the use of manufactured fertilisers and pesticides or use intensive farming methods that result in soil erosion. This means that the risk of soil contamination, chemical run-off and water pollution is significantly lowered.
Organic farmers aim to farm in a way that encourages wildlife and healthy ecosystems. Techniques such as planting wildflower margins and dig ponds around their fields promote ecosystems that can flourish and in turn naturally protect crops.
On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, and there are around 75% more wild bees on organic farms.
the benefits of organic on our health
Eating organic produce helps reduce our overall exposure to pesticides, additives, preservatives and the likes.
Many are also unaware that conventional farming and production methods also leave chemical residue trapped in fabrics. Our skin is the largest and most absorbent organ we have, so choosing organic home textiles and clothing means that our skin doesn’t absorb anything that can be harmful to us.
We don’t want to be eating these chemicals, so we think it’s pretty important that our bedding, towels or clothes aren’t cocooning us in them either.
We believe it’s about getting involved and making small positive changes wherever possible.
the label lowdown
Any food product sold as ‘organic’ in the UK must be certified and comply with a set of specific standards, unlike any ‘natural’ labels you might see. The standards look at all aspects of organic food manufacturing, production and storage.
If you see the Soil Association’s logo on your food, you know that not only have the EU’s organic regulations been met, but also some additional, higher standards in some key areas such as GM, additives and packaging.
However, unfortunately organic is not yet a legal or regulated term in the skincare and cosmetics sector. Look for products certified by the Soil Association so you know that strict standards have been met. This guarantees organic ingredients are used where possible, and ingredients which can’t be organic are made using green chemistry principles (no toxins and no nasties).
The ‘natural’ cosmetics industry is booming, but this is also an unregulated sector. Because of this, the Soil Association also offers a natural certification to help you identify certified natural ingredients. You can find the COSMOS Natural logo on products that contain a lot of ingredients which can’t be organic (such as water, salt or clay) but they are again made with green chemistry principles and don’t contain endangered plant species or GM ingredients.
Things are a little more tricky when it comes to textiles, too. You’ll often see the words sustainable or organic, but if the product isn’t certified, there isn’t any proof that the claims are backed up. To ensure the clothes or home textiles you’re purchasing are truly organic and meet strict standards, you need to look for one of the three Soil Association Logo’s: