Did you know? When it comes to food 'organic' is a legal definition?
That's because of the strict criteria farmers and producers have to meet in order to be able to call their produce organic.
Organic September is a movement that encourages individuals to explore the benefits of organic and support those very farmers and businesses committed to organic farming methods.
By choosing organic, we can reduce our environmental footprint, promote the health and well-being of both people and the planet, and support biodiversity.
In this article, we will delve into why Organic September matters and why making conscious choices is vital for a greener future.
We will explore the positive impacts of organic farming on soil health, water conservation, and greenhouse gas emissions. Join us as we celebrate Organic September and empower ourselves with knowledge to make informed decisions that contribute to a healthier and more sustainable world.
We'll also give you hints and tips on how you can embrace Organic September and how to go organic on a budget.
The Importance of Organic Farming
Organic farming is more than just a trend and goes beyond what has recently been marketed as 'regenerative farming'. Organic is the ultimate regenerative solution, working together with nature's systems and restoring balance and biodiversity.
It is a sustainable approach to agriculture that prioritises the health of the soil, the environment, and the people involved in the process.
Unlike conventional farming methods that rely heavily on synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, organic farming uses natural techniques to cultivate crops and raise livestock.
One of the key benefits of organic farming is the preservation of soil health - which is vital, since soil degradation is taking place at an alarming rate.
A senior UN official said in 2014 we may have fewer than 60 harvests left if soil degradation continues at the existing rate. Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that all too frequently policy makers ignore the ground beneath our feet.
Organic practices prioritise the use of natural fertilisers and crop rotation, which helps maintain soil fertility and structure. This, in turn, promotes better water retention and reduces erosion, safeguarding the long-term productivity of our farmland.
Furthermore, organic farming methods help promote biodiversity by avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals that harm beneficial insects, pollinators, and other wildlife.
Did you know? One gram of soil can contain up to 10 billion organisms. That's more than the number of people living on the planet in a quarter of a teaspoon!
By fostering a diverse ecosystem, organic farms support the natural balance of organisms, predators and prey, reducing the reliance on harmful pesticides, and ultimately contributing to a healthier environment.
Not only does the environment benefit, but organic farming also looks after the health and well-being of those involved in the agricultural supply chain.
By avoiding the use of synthetic pesticides and chemicals, organic farmers minimise their exposure to harmful, carcinogenic substances, ensuring safer working conditions and preserving the health of their communities.
Benefits of Choosing Organic Products
Choosing organic products goes beyond supporting sustainable farming practices; it has numerous benefits for our health and well-being too. Organic food is grown without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic pesticides, or artificial additives. This means that organic fruits, vegetables, and other food products are free from potentially harmful residues.
Research indicates that organic produce tends to have higher levels of certain nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and fewer levels of chemicals that may have negative impacts on our health. Studies suggest those who eat organic food, are also at a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Additionally, organic farming practices prioritise the use of natural and sustainable methods for pest control, which can lead to a lower risk of pesticide exposure for consumers.
One study suggests that almost all of us (90%) have herbicide and pesticide residues within our bodies. A small-scale experiment, documented in Swedish supermarket Coop's viral video 'The Organic Effect', found that after two weeks of eating organic produce a family of five's urine was devoid of any pesticides and herbicides used in conventional farming.
Moreover, organic livestock farming practices ensure that animals are raised in a more humane manner, with access to outdoor areas and a diet free from growth hormones and antibiotics. Choosing organic meat, dairy, and eggs means supporting animal welfare while also avoiding potentially harmful residues that can enter our bodies via animal products.
When it comes to clothing, wearing garments containing harmful chemicals right next to the skin can also lead to negative or undesirable health impacts. Those with sensitive skin - especially babies and young children - can easily develop rashes and other types of dermatitis as an adverse reaction to the chemicals used in the manufacture of conventional clothing.
By choosing organic products, we not only take care of our own health but also contribute to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.
Organic Cotton and Clothing
Pictured Above: ILO Clothing Organic Cotton Baby Romper in whales print
When we talk about organic living, it's not just about the food we consume; it extends to the clothes we wear and beyond.
As with other organic crops, organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, or genetically modified seeds and provides a more sustainable choice that supports farmers and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops globally. According to a 2017 report by the Pesticide Action Network, it is responsible for 16% of all insecticides sold - despite accounting for just 2.4% of the world’s arable land. The use of harmful chemicals in cotton production not only poses a risk to wildlife and biodiversity, but is also responsible for serious health issues in workers including respiratory conditions and cancer.
By choosing organic cotton clothing, you can help reduce pesticide exposure and support fair and ethical working conditions.
Buying clothing made from organic cotton also offers superior quality and comfort. Organic cotton fibres are naturally softer and hypoallergenic, making them a great choice for those with sensitive skin. Additionally, organic cotton clothing is made using eco-friendly dyes and manufacturing processes - further minimising its environmental and human impact.
We all know the fashion industry has many problems, but purchasing organic fibres is an easy way to address many of these issues at once.
Understanding Organic Certification
To ensure the integrity of organic products, there are various sector-specific organic certification programs. These programs provide guidelines and standards that organic farmers and producers must adhere to in order to label their products as organic.
Organic certification involves rigorous inspections, record-keeping, and compliance with specific farming practices. Farmers must demonstrate that they have followed organic guidelines for a lengthy period before their products can be certified organic. Third-party organisations or government agencies typically oversee the certification process to ensure transparency and accountability.
In the UK, look for food and produce certified by the Soil Association which certifies roughly half of the organic produce grown here in Great Britain. When it comes to clothing, look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) symbol, which certifies garments throughout the whole production process and also ensures ethical working conditions for workers.
By choosing certified organic products, you can have confidence in their authenticity and trust that they have been produced with the highest level of environmental and ethical standards.
Organic September Initiatives and Campaigns
Organic September is organised by the Soil Association and has been running for more than ten years. It comes right off the back of British summer at a time of the year when there is a lot of beautiful homegrown produce available to celebrate!
Farmers, retailers and organisations use the month to promote awareness and encourage individuals to embrace some of this bounty and make more conscious choices by adopting organic living.
Organic September encourages individuals to make small changes in their everyday lives to incorporate more organic choices. Whether it's switching to organic food, buying organic clothing, using organic beauty products, or supporting local organic farmers, every action counts.
Organic September also showcases the achievements and innovations in the organic industry. It celebrates the hard work and dedication of organic farmers, producers, and retailers who strive to provide organic options that are accessible and affordable for everyone.
10 Ways to get Involved with Organic September
Participating in Organic September is a great way to make a positive impact on the environment and your own well-being. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Check for Organic Certification
When shopping, read labels carefully. Understand the difference between "100% organic," "organic," and "made with organic ingredients" labels, as they indicate varying levels of organic content.
Look for the Soil Association logo, or GOTS if it's clothing. Make sure what you're buying really is better for the climate and your health.
2. Start small
Incorporate one organic product into your routine at a time. Whether it's organic fruits and vegetables, dairy products, or personal care items, every step counts. Top selling organic products in the UK include organic yogurt, organic milk, organic eggs and organic carrots.
3. Shop local
Support local farmers and organic producers by visiting farmers' markets or joining a community-supported agriculture programme. This not only ensures the freshness of your organic products but also reduces carbon emissions associated with transportation. It's also a great way to show the kids how food is grown and where it comes from!
4. Remember - Organic isn't just food!
Think about buying a garment of clothing made from organic cotton - it’ll last you longer and you’ll love how wonderfully soft it is, and how well it washes. Or beauty products that are made from organic ingredients. Think how much better it’ll be for your skin - which, after all, is the whole point, right?
5. DIY Household Cleaning Products
Experiment with making your own cleaning products, using organic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. This is not only cost-effective but also eco-friendly.
6. Think About Buying Organic As A Gift
Organic baby gifts for example are always a hit for new babies or at a baby shower. It’s a little more special and shows you’ve really put some thought into buying the best for that special someone.
7. Grow your own
If you have space, consider starting an organic garden at home. Growing your own organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs allows you to have complete control over the cultivation process and ensures the freshest produce.
8. Watch 'The Organic Effect'
If you only do one thing this Organic September - watch 'The Organic Effect' by Swedish grocers Coop. The video went viral and had tens of millions of views across social platforms.
It'll take two minutes of your life and that's it.
9. Spread the word
Share your organic journey with friends and family. Educate others about the importance of organic practices and encourage them to make conscious choices as well. Share brands and products that you have tried and loved!
10. Reflect on Your Choices
Use Organic September as an opportunity to reflect on your consumption patterns and their impact on the environment. Consider making lasting changes beyond the campaign month.
Is Organic More Expensive?
"But it's so expensive. We're not all made of money. Organic is fine if you're rich. Sustainability is only for wealthy people."
I know, I know - I run a sustainable baby & kids clothing company - and I've heard every single last one of these.
But, trust me, I'm not made of money either - quite the reverse, so I incorporate organic choices wherever I feel able to.
And yes, organic produce tends to be more pricey because the cost of production is higher compared to conventionally farmed crops. This is particularly due to lower crop yields, more labour-intensive processes and high auditing / certification costs.
But the more of us that buy organic. the cheaper it will become. Once a critical tipping point is reached, then organic produce will benefit from economies of scale that currently are out of reach.
Nevertheless, buying organic can be achievable for every budget. If you start with the mindset of purchasing less, but better - you're already onto a winner! Don't forget it's not an either-or situation: you don't have to switch wholesale to organic produce or not at all.
Every single purchase matters - each one is an opportunity to make a difference.
So read on for my top tips on how to shop organic on a budget...
How to Shop for Organic Products on a Budget
While organic products are often associated with higher prices, there are ways to shop for organic on a budget. Here are some tips to help you make organic choices without breaking the bank:
|Focus on purchasing organic products that you consume most frequently. Some fruits and vegetables tend to have higher pesticide residue levels, making them better candidates for organic purchasing. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an annual "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest pesticide residues. Consider buying organic versions of these items.
|2. Buy in Bulk
|Purchasing organic items in bulk can often lead to cost savings. Look for bulk bins at your local grocery store or consider joining a wholesale club that offers organic options.
|3. Shop Seasonally and Locally
Organic produce that's in-season is often more affordable due to increased availability. Local farmer's markets and co-ops can provide you with fresh, affordable organic produce during its peak season.
|4. Cook from Scratch
|Buying organic whole foods like entire, unprocessed fruit and vegetables is far cheaper than buying packets of organic snacks or ready meals / processed foods.
|5. Buy Frozen Organic Produce
|Frozen organic produce can be more affordable than fresh, especially when it comes to items that are out of season. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked at their peak and immediately frozen, retaining their nutritional value.
|6. Comparison Shop
|Check prices at different stores and online retailers to find the best deals on organic products. You may find that certain stores offer lower prices or have promotions on organic items.
|7. Make the Most of Sales
|Look for deals or discounts on organic produce - particularly organic clothing, which is often discounted at the end of a season.
|8. Grow your Own
|As mentioned earlier, growing your own organic produce can be a cost-effective way to access fresh and pesticide-free food. Seeds and seedlings are relatively inexpensive, and the long-term savings can be significant
|9. Reduce Food Waste
|Properly store your organic produce to prevent spoilage. Using items before they go off can help you make the most of your purchases.
Remember that your budget might not allow for every item to be organic, so focus on making conscious choices where they matter most. Combining these strategies can help you enjoy the benefits of organic produce without straining your finances.
Embracing a Greener Future through Conscious Choices
Organic September is more than just a month-long celebration; it is a reminder of the power we have as individuals to make conscious choices that have a positive impact on the environment and our own well-being. By choosing organic products, supporting local organic producers, and embracing sustainable practices, we can contribute to a greener and brighter future for us and our children.
Let's make Organic September a starting point for lasting change. Explore the benefits of organic farming, prioritise organic products in your shopping choices, and spread awareness about the importance of organic living. Together, we can create a world where sustainable practices are the norm, and our actions reflect our commitment to a healthier planet.
Join us at My Little Green Wardrobe in celebrating Organic September and take the first step towards a greener future. Every purchase counts, and together we can make a difference.