One of our brand values is to protect the natural environment through thoughtful and proactive practices. Sustainability is at the heart of the organic movement. An organic way of life promotes care and conservation. It starts with the produce itself ensuring that food is grown both ethically and using natural methods rather than intensive, chemical based ones. It's a principle based system.
Organic certification/the badge of approval is hard to get and only awarded to those farms and businesses which have been inspected and checked against a strict set of criteria. There are a few bodies in the UK which certify organic businesses. Our is the Organic Farmers & Growers ('OG&G') above but you may have also heard of the Soil Association or Organic Food Federation. Part of the certification process is to validate that all the ingredients used in end products are from verified, organic sources which also carry the organic badge or license. A couple of promises that organic makes:
The Organic Trade Board (OTB) works in the UK and across the EU to promote that Organic is "Naturally Different". But how? Here are some examples:
Clean Farms : The fact that organic food comes from clean farms, i.e. ones that have not used antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, GMO or any type of chemical, means that these things do not 'dirty' the food we eat. It has long been thought that how we farm affects the end product and recent research publishing in the British Journal of Nutrition has proved this. It was found that there is 50% more of the good, Omega 3 in organic milk compared to non-organic. For more on this, click here. So, organic is different - it's nutritionally better:)
Know Your Source : Organic is different because it gives the consumer assurance that the source of their food has been checked. Every stage of the production process is inspected from the farm right through to the end product. It's the only programme of its kind which can really trace and certify our food. Traceability is the WHEY AHEAD®. As a consumer, we think you deserve to know.
Protect of Animals & Wildlife : Did you know there is a difference between free-range and organic? Yes, free-range means literally, free to range outside. However, organic goes a number of important steps further to ensure animal welfare. If we use hens as an example as free-range has become synonymous with barn vs. free-range eggs. Here are the key differences:
- Flock sizes. It's all very well being free-range but what if the land that the hens roam is packed so full that the hens cannot even move?! Organic licenses ensure that flock sizes and density (number of hens per sq. metre) is controlled. In 'free-range' this is a max of 16,000 hens per sq. metre but with 'organic' it's just 2,000. Organic therefore gives animals a lot more breathing space:)
- Organic does not allow beak trimming. What is this? It's a mutilation which trims the hens' beaks and is routinely practiced in free-range farms. The organic principle on animal welfare and the natural way farming, protects the hens because it is believed that beak trimming can interfere with the hens' natural foraging behaviours.
- Organic hens are fed a natural, GMO free diet. According to the Soil Association, over 1 million tonnes of GMO crops are used in the UK to feed livestock which includes free-range hens.
- Finally, organic requests more 'pop holes' which are little escape holes from the barn for the hens to access the outdoors. Just another example of the way that organic promotes animal welfare as it's thought that more exits = more free-roaming.
There is a really great diagram from 'Farms Not Factories' which show the range in standards from no quality assurance label through to organic. It's amazing to find that even the Red Tractor Assured Standards scheme has only been given 1* vs. organic with 5*. It just goes to show that even when you think you are buying animal-kind products, that labels can mislead. Red Tractor's advert in 2012 was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for falsely claiming that British pork sold with the Red Tractor label meant 'high welfare'.
Sustain the Planet :
Organic naturally promotes sustainability. If you think about all the pesticides, chemicals and fertilisers which are being prevented from running off into nearby rivers, that is just the start. More careful farming practices which really put the environment first are ones that think about the overall carbon footprint of farms. They plant trees, encourage wildlife in hedges and the lack of toxins mean that bees survive and the natural eco-system flourishes.
It goes further than that though. One of the causes of Climate Change is the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Organic practices use less petroleum-based and man-made pesticides which means cleaner air and soils. Carbon is stored in soils - did you know they contain 3x more carbon that the atmosphere and 5x more than forests? The Soil Association state that switching to organic farming could;
"save 64 million tonnes of carbon over 20 years across all UK cultivated land - the equivalent of taking nearly a million family cars off the road!"
That is pretty amazing don't you think?! During WHEY AHEAD®'s organic inspections, not only are all our ingredients inspected and checked but we are also encouraged to use sustainable packaging and keep our carbon footprint low. But we need no encouragement! We proudly search for the best, recyclable and sustainable packaging available for our products. It's more expensive for us to buy but worth it to save the cost on the environment.
The Organic lifestyle is a movement because it's a collective approach trying to get the message out there about the benefits of organic. There is such misinformation and lack of understanding out there, that we feel it's our duty to shout about the benefits and help people make informed decisions about their consumption. Join our organic fitfam today and help us make some noise about organic! Thank you for reading this article as part of our Organic Adademy :)