In the past few years the market for organic food had grown substantially. It is also clear that organic food is often more expensive than your average groceries. This triggers the question: is organic better?
To begin with, when you choose to buy organic you are buying a product that is working with nature. This means you are contributing to a company that cares about animal and environmental welfare and are against harmful pesticides, manufactured herbicides and artificial fertilisers. All of these choices result in our carbon-footprint being reduced and our planet being a safer place for wildlife.
Non-organic food production uses almost 300 different types of pesticides that can end up in our waters, environment and higher up the food chain. When the UK Government tested food in 2017, they concluded that there were pesticide residues in 47% of British Food. The use of Glyphosate, the most widely sold weedkiller in the world, has increased by 400% in the past 20 years, yet an IARC report stated that there is no safe level of the substance.
Also, when you buy food that has been certified organic is traceable from farm to fork, so you know exactly where your food are sourced from. In Europe, any company that wishes to go through the process to become certified organic has to firstly perfect their organic farming and then go through rigorous, independent inspections and certifications. This shows real commitment to the organic cause and shows that a company really cares about protected both us and the environment.
Furthermore, when you buy organic, there are certain standards that a company has to achieve to ensure that their animals have the best quality of care possible.
In non-organic animal agriculture, many antibiotics are used on large groups of healthy animals to combat an illness only present in a couple of them. When antibiotics are used routinely, they become less effective over time and often used to compensate for cruel living conditions for animals where illness can spread fast. The Soil Association found that 79% of antibiotics used in the UK farming system was on intensively rearing pigs and poultry. It is now predicted that 10 million animals could die each year from diseases that could have been easily treated a couple of decades ago.
Additionally, organic farmers are striving to protect our diminishing wildlife by nourishing their soils, protecting and creating conservation areas with trees and meadows, as well as preventing instead of killing off pests, diseases and weeds. Moreover, if the EU converted half of its agriculture to organic by 2030, it would cut 23% of its greenhouse emissions and would be able to tackle the climate crisis in a new way. Changing our food system to organic would also protect our soil, which is a non-renewable resource so needs to be protected to ensure that future generations have a reliable food source.
As well as protecting our planet, organic food is also nutritionally different to non-organic produce. Newcastle University found that organic crops have up to 60% more key antioxidants than conventionally-grown ones.
However, organic food will cost on average 89% more than your normal everyday groceries. With this large increase in price when you buy organic foods, some may struggle to afford such products. Hopefully, as organic produce becomes more mainstream the price of the food will, making accessible to the majority of society. So if you choose to buy organic, you are helping to support the development of a food system that is both safe and sustainable.