IS ORGANICS ALL ABOUT?
It's about producing goods that
work in harmony with, and not against, nature. The
aim is to eradicate the use of harmful chemicals by
making effective use of nature's natural resources.
All organic products are also free of genetically
modified organisms (organisms that have had their
basic gene structure modified by the addition of external
WHAT IS ORGANIC FARMING?
It is the process of adopting
environmentally friendly farming practices that protect
soil health, the environment and ultimately your own
health. Converting to Organic Farming is very challenging
and requires patient and committed farmers. Organic
farming is subject to the unpredictability of mother
nature - making it vulnerable to weather and pest infestations
which have no "quick fix" solutions. Farmers utilize
a blend of old and new technologies and scientific research
to balance the earth's natural ecosystems.
Examples of organic farming methods include:
* Rotating crops between fields. This helps keep pests
from building up and improves soil fertility.
* Planting selected bushes and flowers to attract
beneficial insects which ward off unwanted pests.
* Using biological insecticides which make use of
pests' natural predators to control pest populations.
Organic farming produces nutrient rich, fertile
soil which nourishes the plants. Keeping chemicals
off the land protects water quality and wild life.
It's also about practising good animal welfare where
everything from breeding, rearing and handling, to
feeding of animals is strictly regulated and a free
range lifestyle is implemented
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH
BENEFITS OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS?
Over and above the environmental
benefits, the health benefits are notable! The hazards
for human health of consuming products contaminated
by harmful pesticides include increased risks of cancer,
reproductive problems and neurological damage. Organically
grown produce on the other hand is free of chemical
residues, has a much higher vitamin content and is usually
more flavoursome (which is why many top restaurants
prefer to use organic ingredients).
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HOW CAN I BE SURE ITS
There are two levels of organic classification:
- Organic Certification
- Organic in Conversion
A Certified organic product means that the produce
and the farming process has been inspected over a
period by an independent, specialist certification
agency to verify organic authenticity to the consumer.
This process normally takes place over a timeframe
of about 3 years. During the process, producers may
communicate on products that they are "organic in
conversion" (as may be seen for example on some major
These certification organizations really have only
one reason for existence: to provide assurance to
the consumer that products and organizations which
claim to be organic, really do meet organic standards.
Several certification agencies exist across the country,
and these include Eco Cert, SGS, Afrisco and The Soil
Association. (Any certification program should be
able to give you their standards upon request).
Look for the certification seal or name of the certification agency label.
When you see this claim, it means:
* No harmful chemicals have been applied for at least 3 years.
* The farmer and processor have annual certification inspections.
* They have kept detailed records of their practices.
* They use ecologically-friendly methods and substances to improve the
soil and control pests.
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ABOUT ORGANIC CERTIFICATION
When a product is labelled "Certified Organic", it means
that the producer has undergone a rather lengthy inspection
process. This process authenticates that the growing
and manufacturing of the product adheres to worldwide
standards based on the principles and practices of organic
food and fibre production. While certain details of
the certification process may vary among the certification
programs, generally speaking certification begins when
the grower or processor completes an application that
describes the farm history or plant operation. This
description details management practices, the use of
materials and so forth. This application is then scrutinized
by the certification program, which then assigns an
inspector to go and visit the farm or facility.
The inspector visually validates the application information is correct. The
inspector writes a report and submits it with any additional documentation
to the certification organization for review and approval status. Provided
that the farm or facility is approved, it is certified for one year. An
annual inspection is required in order for certification to continue.
Each farmer and certifier is responsible for the maintenance of a clear
audit trail - this is documentation that tracks product by lot numbers,
certificates or other product identification codes. This means that at any
point in the sale and distribution of the organic product, it can be traced
back to its origin.
To check that a product has been certified, look
at the product label. Does the product display the
name and/or logo of a certification program? If not,
ask questions. Be aware that often manufactured products
contain certified ingedients, but the processing itself
may not be certified. (When in doubt, call the manufacturer
and ask about the certifier they use.) If you are
buying fresh products, your retailer should be able
to tell you who certified the product from the records
that are kept in the store. Bulk product should always
be accompanied by a certificate indicating the certification
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ORGANIC FACTS AND FIGURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
In Germany, the baby-food niche market, with a turnover of about 350 million DM, is moving towards exclusively using certified organic raw materials. Swissair and Lufthansa's first class passengers are being offered organic food as a superior product.
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COMPELLING REASONS TO SUPPORT ORGANIC
Some may query, with valid reasons, the health benefits of eating organic versus non-organic.
The big picture really is about aiding a dying planet. Pesticides are harmful to nature, and try as it might to adapt to human intervention, it's failing.
One could think of using organic production methods as a small contribution to a noble cause.
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Organic produce is:
hormone and growth stimulant free
in vitamin content