Wednesday 21st September 2022
What does “Organic” really mean? There are many organic myths out there, and Lizzie Rivera, founder of ethical lifestyle website Live Frankly, spoke with the organic experts and assisted us in dispelling as many myths as possible.
MYTH #4: All British farming standards are as high as organic when it comes to animal welfare
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: “It’s true that European and British animal welfare is pretty good compared with some other countries. But, the vast majority of chickens are still reared in an intensive system, where the birds are fattened up so quickly they can’t stand up by the time they are sent to the abattoir. Organic standards demand that they are grown at half that speed.
This isn’t just because it’s the right thing to do from an animal welfare perspective. As with humans, highly stressed animals are more prone to sickness and typically receive higher doses of drugs from vets. Treatments you give to the animals impact the environment. A direct example: If you have to worm cows, their manure will contain the drugs and kill the earthworms in a field. The worms are a vital part of soil health, and this is directly connected to what the cows eat – the grass.
Organic demands higher standards of animal welfare in all systems and this is for the benefit of the animal, the environment and people eating the meat.” Soil Association’s Senior Business & Trade Development Manager, Lee Holdstock
MYTH #5: There’s no conclusive evidence that organic is nutritionally better for you
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: “This is a myth that is grounded in reality, the most well-known work in this area is arguably a Newcastle University study that proves both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. But this dates back to 2016, now.
It’s extremely difficult to link diet to health because there are so many different factors involved, including how much you exercise, how polluted the air is where you live, if you smoke etc…
But I think in the near future we will have more evidence.
As a father of three children, for me it’s common sense. Do you want to feed your family food produced with regular applications of toxic chemicals or food that is grown naturally, in harmony with nature? Instinctively, for me, the latter is better.” Soil Association’s Senior Business & Trade Development Manager, Lee Holdstock
MYTH #6: Organic certification doesn’t mean as much as it used to
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: “Organic certification is more important than ever. More and more companies are tapping into the consumer demand for sustainable products, and certification is a key way for shoppers to avoid greenwashing. I think the Soil Association does a good job at this and the standards are evolving all the time, as we learn more. Soil Association Organic is an independent certification that means you can buy products you can trust. I’m a great believer that tough standards drive innovation – but they shouldn’t be so tough they act as a barrier to adoption.” Soil Association’s Senior Business & Trade Development Manager, Lee Holdstock
“Can organic be better? The magnitude of the climate crisis demands that we must seek to get better as organic farmers. How we can go further is a question we need to consider collectively and as individual businesses – we can all go further. At Riverford we have committed £1.8m to a ‘fund for the planet’ which is the start of what will be a continual annual investment in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises and continuing to do better as a business.” Riverford CEO, Rob Haward
“I’m a deeply sceptical person, but from a farming point of view our organic certification is the single most precious thing we have. I want to take the exam and get the big tick. I want to be held accountable. If people are demanding more of organic certification, that’s brilliant. We’re already demanding more of ourselves and are eager to rise to the challenge.” Sarah Mead, Head Gardener, Yeo Valley Organic Garden
To learn more about organic misconceptions, keep an eye out for Part 3!
If you haven’t had the chance to read part 1 of our Organic Myths Busted Series, you can do it here!