When I converted the first of my father’s fields to organic in 1986, my motivations were primarily to avoid the agrochemicals that put my brother in hospital and made me ill as a teenager, and also a sense that it offered me a better chance of making some money. Over 25 years my commitment has grown; organic farming is much more than simply rejecting synthetic chemicals; it’s about balance, harmony and humility, and an acceptance that we share our planet with six billion others, and are part of an ongoing ecosystem rather than its short-term master.
With such a broad philosophy, it’s not surprising that marketing experts repeatedly tell the organic industry to condense its benefits into clear soundbites. So, as we enter ‘Organic September’, I’ll keep the hippy dippy stuff to myself and instead extol the virtues of veg boxes from my perspective:
Better for you: We don’t spray our crops with a barrage of nerve toxins, fungicides and herbicides. There’s also good evidence organic food has higher levels of important nutrients. Better flavour too.
For the environment: Organic farms have more biodiversity and soil life, less polluted watercourses, use less fossil fuels, and have a lower carbon footprint.
For animals: Organic farms have the highest legally-enforced animal welfare standards; much higher than free range and with no routine use of antibiotics.
So there you go; bigger than bite-sized and largely unverified. I’d go on, but giving more than three reasons for anything generally makes people glaze over. If you want more, visit www.soilassociation.org. I’m so convinced of both the tangible benefits and the philosophy of organic farming that we only sell organic produce. Some organic companies have recently started selling ‘free range’, ‘additive-free’, and ‘home produced’ non-organic goods. In as much as these words mean anything, I’d argue that we are all of them, and organic, and have been for 25 years.