Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit people and the planet.

Most of the fruit and veg I buy is from farms that are local and organic, where I can visit the farms, but I also buy organic whenever possible with other foods, as the organic label is the best indication I have that the food has been produced in a more environmentally friendly manner. In order to be accredited, or even just to market your product as organic, you must meet standards which are laid down in law and are regularly checked by a certification body. I have also met a lot of organic farmers and they are truly committed to producing the best food possible with minimal impact on the environment. Most small-scale organic farms use agroecological farming practices, which basically means sustainable farming that works with nature.

Unfortunately the same is not true of industrial farming, which constitutes the majority of the food production. Most vegans would not consider eating organic as a vegan issue, but anything that harms the environment, inevitably harms wildlife, so if you care about all living creatures, then eating organic is the way forward.

Organic food does cost more, because it’s labour costs are much higher, but there are ways to reduce the cost, e.g. by setting up a food co-op or buying group to buy in bulk together with other people. Some the healthiest foods e.g. beans, lentils and oats, are also the cheapest. Buying local produce that’s in season will also be better value and some veg box schemes do offer sliding scales for people on low incomes.

Organic food is:

Better for the environment

Organic farming lowers the risk of environmental pollution and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by severely restricting the use of manufactured chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which come from burning fossil fuels. Synthetic nitrogen fertilisers are also responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Instead, organic farmers build fertile soils naturally, by nourishing them with compost, nitrogen-fixing crops, and crop rotations. As a result, organic farmland sequesters more carbon and organic soils are around 25% more effective at storing carbon in the long-term.

Better for wildlife

Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds, and butterflies. On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms, and there are around 75% more wild bees on organic farms. This is because organic farmers use fewer pesticides and only in very restricted circumstances. Organic farmers rely on healthy ecosystems to control pests and protect their soils, so they tend to farm in a way that encourages wildlife, like planting trees, ‘beetle banks’ and wildflower margins, and digging ponds around their fields. Organic standards also ban the use of these manufactured fertilisers, lowering the risk of pollution in rivers, seas and waterways, which can kill fish and other aquatic life.

Better for you

Choosing organic is an easy way to limit our exposure to pesticides and herbicides. You’re supporting farming practices with a more traceable production process and you will always know what’s in your food. Organic standards prohibit: GM crops and ingredients; hydrogenated fats; and controversial food additives, colourings, sweeteners and preservatives, like tartrazine and aspartame. They also prevent organic fruit and vegetables from being washed in chlorine.