5 reasons to go organic this autumn
As we head into autumn and the nights draw in and the days become shorter, we intuitively begin to follow our natural craving for warming, grounding foods like thick soups, heavier stews and root vegetables.
There is nothing healthier and more restorative (or more delicious) than sourcing truly organic (preferably local) ingredients for your cooking. Have you read my free eBook on how and why you should eat seasonally to restore your health?
Working with nature
Organic means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife.
“Winter blues are cured every time with a potato gratin paired with a roast chicken “
– Alex Guarnaschelli
When you choose organic food, drink or beauty and textiles, you choose products that promote a better world. Organic products come from trusted sources while organic food supports you, your health, the health of your children, and the planet.
Improve your health
How your food is grown or raised has a major impact on your mental and emotional health, as well as the health of our environment. Organic foods are GM-Free and have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts. In many cases, people with allergies to foods, chemicals or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or even go away when they eat only organic foods.
So, let’s dive in and look at five good reasons YOU should be going organic this autumn.
1/ Organic = free-range
Organic means the very highest standards of animal welfare – animals graze and forage naturally on pasture where natural fertilisers are used, and pesticide use is severely restricted; they are reared on a GM-free diet and without the routine use of drugs; they have better quality living, transport and slaughter conditions. That means we benefit too… we are what we eat!
2/ Fewer pesticides
Most people don’t realise that almost 300 (!) pesticides are routinely used in non-organic farming, which can pollute water, the environment and make their way into our food chain. They are frequently found in non-organic food eat despite washing and cooking.
Glyphosate (one of the most commonly used weed killers around the world) is regularly found in British bread, appearing in over 60% of wholemeal bread samples tested by the DEFRA committee on Pesticide Residues in Food. Meanwhile, government figures show the use of glyphosate in the UK has increased by 400% in the last 20 years.
Organic farmers are permitted to use just 20 pesticides, derived from natural ingredients including citronella and clove oil, but only under very restricted circumstances. Research suggests that if all UK farming was organic, pesticide use would drop by 98%!
If you want any more convincing… check out the Pesticide Action Network’s report ‘ The report was published to better inform parents and schools about the pesticide residues contained in the produce supplied to four to six-year-olds in England under the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).
“Children in England are being exposed to a cocktail of pesticide residues in the fresh produce they receive through the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS). These pesticides have documented potential to harm human health, especially the health of young children who are particularly vulnerable to their impacts.”
– PAN UK
3/ No routine use of antibiotics
The overuse of antibiotics is undermining their ability to help treat infection and disease. our current farming model means antibiotics and other drugs are routinely administered to animals to cover up for poor hygiene, husbandry and housing.
This is not the case in organic farming, where there is no routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
4/ Organic is better for our planet
Intensive farming causes untold damage to our planet – soil erosion, chemical run-off into our water and a growing resistance in weeds and insects to herbicides and pesticides.
Our soils are non-renewable, so it is vital we preserve the quality and integrity of the black stuff. Organic farmers use crop varieties with a natural resistance to pests and disease, developing healthy, fertile soil through crop rotation.
Organic farming works with nature, not against it: healthy soil is a major store for carbon, which plays a big part in climate change and the reduction of harmful greenhouse gasses.
“In the face of climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and protect wildlife grows more acute by the year. There is no magic bullet to tackle the challenges that face us, but the buying decisions we make every day are a simple but powerful form of direct action.”
– The Soil Association
5/ Organic food is nutritionally superior
Research suggests that organic crops are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than those conventionally-farmed. And the British Journal of Nutrition has found that organic milk and organic meat contain 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than intensively-farmed produce.
Organic milk and dairy have a higher concentration of iron and vitamin E, while organically-grown crops have around 70% more antioxidants than non-organic; organic fruit and vegetables also contain lower concentrations of pesticides and heavy metals.
Another large study – which reviewed over 300 studies – published in 2014, also in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic crops, from carrots and broccoli to apples and blueberries, have substantially higher concentrations antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds.
For example, the study found that organic crops had about 50% more anthocyanins and flavonols compared with conventional crops. Anthocyanins are compounds that give fruits and vegetables like blueberries, their blue, purple and red hues and flavonols (in cocoa… yum!) are anti-inflammatory, protecting our cells from damage and helping to fight off disease.
We have the science. Let’s not ignore it!
Can I hear cries of “But organic food is a luxury!” Or “Surely, if non-organic food was that bad, it wouldn’t be on the shelves?” Or “Agrrhh! HOW much?!”
- Organic food is our birthright, not a luxury – back in the day, all food was organic.
- Non-organic food is on the shelves and it is less than healthy. Let’s get better informed and make better choices; the food industry responds to consumer demands… so let’s demand organic!
- Yes, it’s more expensive… but our health is our wealth, not our ‘stuff’. Wisely sourced, organic needn’t be very much more expensive and even if we pay a little more, we’ll waste far less – especially if we cook from scratch.
Demanding more organic options and filling your shopping with certified organic foods (or from suppliers you can trust) not only means a lot to our health, but it also helps grow the marketplace and change our food system.
“What will our children eat, in the future? What kind of planet will they inherit? I vote with every mouthful of organic food I eat that they’ll have the choice we enjoy.”
– Tom Herbert, The Fabulous Baker Brothers
Available January 2019
The food we’re eating today isn’t what it once was and it’s making us sick. Chronic disease epidemics are shaking the Western world and science is showing us that we need to change what we eat.
I wrote Once Upon a Cook to explain why the food that kept generations of our grandparents healthy needs to be back on our tables and to show you how to do it.