Organic – More Than Just a Lifestyle Choice?
There are some people who believe that organic is a lifestyle choice. We see things differently and passionately believe organic is the only rational choice to maintain a sustainable and productive farming system, to preserve the essential diversity of the natural world and to ensure the quality of the foods we eat and the ingredients in other things such as beauty products.
So, why choose organic?
There are lots of good reasons to support organic principles. Most have to do with promoting the health of people and the environment, now and in the future.
Organic farming methods recognise the complex and delicate balance of the natural world and aim to work with natural ecosystems rather than trying to dominate them.
By encouraging wildlife biodiversity to act as a natural pest control, and by building up the nutrients in the soil to grow strong, healthy crops, reliance on synthetic chemicals is avoided.
It all seems very obvious, but it is a sad fact that over the last 50 years mankind has largely lost sight of its connection with the land – intensive farming techniques have been responsible for the devastation of much of our wildlife’s habitat and the subsequent loss of species. While this has happened many people have either not known or not cared or simply not understood what the consequences of this devastation are.
The human impact is quite clear too as tens of thousands of new chemicals have been released into the environment, many of them known carcinogens. At the same time, even though living standards have improved, serious health conditions have increased.
If you’ve never considered choosing organic before, here’s five things to consider:
1. Our planet
Approximately a third of the average consumer’s carbon footprint comes from their food shopping basket. This could be significantly reduced by choosing organic, local and seasonal foods.
Organic farming avoids polluting chemicals, and even helps reduce atmospheric CO2 by enriching soil with ploughed-in plant matter.
2. Your wellbeing
No plant food or ingredient has greater health-giving goodness than those that have been organically grown. According to the Soil Association report, Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, organic foods and ingredients contain higher levels of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as health-promoting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Choosing organically produced ingredients of any kind also avoids pesticide contamination. Certified organic products, food or cosmetics, further avoids all controversial additives including aspartame, MSG and hydrogenated fats. In cosmetic products it also means you avoid worrisome preservatives and phthalates.
3. Animal welfare
Animal welfare is at the heart of organic systems, rigorously protecting all aspects of animal wellbeing.
Organic animals are free to pursue natural behaviour because they have plenty of outside space to thrive and grow. They are also not routinely dosed with antibiotics, residues of which can end up in the human food chain. Happier, unstressed animals are naturally healthier and more disease-resistant.
Many shoppers do not realize that organic products are also free range. And of course, organic beauty care products are never tested on animals.
4. Protecting wildlife
Organic farming relies on wildlife to help control natural pests. Wide field margins and hedgerows allow bugs, birds and bees to flourish.
They are also not sprayed away by the fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides routinely used on non-organic farms.
5. GM & nano free – guaranteed
Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned under organic standards, together with nano-particles.
Nano-particles are already used in a wide range of products – from cosmetics to kitchenware to clothing, you may not even know you are using them!
How to tell if it’s organic
For organic foods, it is very simple. The basic standard is set by law, so nothing can be labelled or marketed as ‘organic’ unless it really is. If a product is certified an organic certification body, for example the Soil Association in the UK, or the USDA in the US, it is a guarantee of its organic status.
For beauty care, unlike food products, there are no legal regulations controlling the use of the word ‘organic’. So you may have to look harder at the label to see what percentage of the finished product is actually organic. The key in such cases is to look for products that have the highest possible percentage of organic ingredients
The NYR organic commitment
When we say we are committed to organic we mean it. Neal’s Yard Remedies has been researching, developing and making organic products since 1981.
Our eco-factory in Dorset houses our laboratory, manufacturing and filling units as well as offices, kitchen and staff restaurant. It also has five hectares of land where we have a damask rose field, physic garden, numerous herb beds, orchard, vegetable garden and wildlife meadow – all managed under organic principles.