Organic September is a month-long campaign designed to encourage people to adopt a more organic lifestyle. It aims to promote and educate people about organic produce and farming practices, in the hope that they will give it a try.
Organic products are often perceived as being a more expensive choice, and this perception can be correct: why? Because organic food is more labour intensive and farmers do not use as many chemicals, drugs and pesticides, thus resulting in higher costs. In addition to this, the certification is expensive and the feed can cost twice as much.
At Segura, we’re passionate about embracing sustainability and making little changes that can have a positive impact. I’ve taken a look at what organic means and how you can lead this lifestyle on a budget; my focus is on food, but you can integrate organic products into many other aspects of your life too.
What does organic mean?
Food labelled as organic must meet strict regulations and criteria on how it is produced. This means that growers and producers are inspected annually to ensure that they continue to meet the required standards.
Organic products sold in shops can be easily identified by the organic logo.
The benefits of choosing organic
The standards for organic food is set out by European law and they’re designed to provide a clear structure for the production of organic goods across the whole of the EU. These standards provide trustworthy organic products, with clear benefits:
- They contain no artificial additives or preservatives.
- They contain fewer pesticides; regular farming uses around 300 pesticides compared to only 20 that can be used by organic farmers. According to the Soil Association, 16,600 tonnes of pesticides were used in 2016. These pesticides can make their way into our water sources and into our bodies through the food chain.
- They are always free range, which is better for animal welfare as it reduces stress and disease.
- They contain no genetically modified (GM) ingredients. According to the Soil Association over 100 million tonnes of GM crops are imported each year to provide feed for the majority of non-organic livestock.
- They are less disruptive to nature due to the rotation of crops and the use of crops that are more naturally resistant to pests and diseases. Organic farms are a great haven for bees, birds and butterflies! There is up to 50% more wildlife on organic farms.
- They are better for the planet – organic farming reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is responsible for around one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
- They offer improved health benefits over non-organic products – a 2016 European study found that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids is 50% higher in organic meat and milk
- They may be local, which means money stays within the local economy, it’s fresher and contains more flavour!
Tips for going organic on a budget
In a perfect world, every person on the planet would ‘’go organic” but for some households where budgets are tight, the increased costs for organic products might be off-putting. Many consumers want a healthier body and to be kinder to the planet but balancing this with a healthy bank balance can be difficult. The good news is that we don’t have to make organic swaps on everything. The Soil Association say that if we all made one swap it could have a huge impact on the planet.
The key here is to know when to splurge and what swaps will reap the biggest benefit for both your household and the planet. Here are some ideas:
- Make your own food from raw ingredients such as making granola bars from oats and dried fruit. Here’s one of my favourite recipes.
- Try growing your own produce, if this is too ambitious due to space and time, start with growing herbs first.
- Know which foods are the most contaminated and if these are the ones you eat most regularly make these swaps first. For example according to Nick Mole, policy officer at Pesticide Action Network 40% of foodscontain measurable amounts of pesticides, this increases to 70% in fruit and veg. If your household eats a lot of produce this would be where to focus your efforts.
- Think about the food itself, if it has a skin that is going to be thrown away then it may not be worth making the swap. Generally, the squashier the fruit the more pesticides have been used on it, so grapes and berries are the ones to focus on.
- When it comes to meat think quality not quantity, by either eating meat fewer days a week or bulking out meals with alternatives such as lentils or beans.
- When it comes to buying grains, go for the organic option in the retailer’s own brand range as these lines are usually cheaper than branded non organic.
- Buy in season – fruits and vegetable are cheapest and freshest when they are in season.
- Shop around – compare prices at the supermarket, farmers markets and independent stores and even try the freezer aisle. The Farma website is worth a look for a list of local retailers in your area.
- Buy in bulk from online wholesalers like wholefoodsonline.
There’s no better time to give organic a go, than Organic month! Reach out to us on social media, let us know your experiences, join in the conversation, share your own ideas, tips and advice.
If it helps the planet, our health and nature - and we can balance that with our wallets - why wouldn’t you give it a try?