A friend of mine recently called me a hippie. Whilst I carefully kept a straight face and continued the conversation as if I wasn’t phased, the truth is that my mind was whizzing with curiosity as to how I could be likened to a hippie.
A hippie, seriously?
When I think of hippies, I imagine the 1960s – you know, the psychedelic rock, the sexual revolution and drugs. Not me so far…
But then I read more about hippies. “… They embraced aspects of Eastern philosophy, they were often vegetarian and eco-friendly… they favoured peace, love and personal freedom, perhaps best epitomized by The Beatles’ song, “All You Need is Love”. (Wikipedia online).
Now I can start to relate (except I am not vegetarian).
Come to think of it, there have been other times in my life where my approach to certain things has been a little alternative – hippie-like, I suppose. For example, for years I have been interested in the benefits of organic produce and have spent many a Saturday morning trawling my local organic markets for the best seasonal produce.
The question in this day and age is not so much whether we should be choosing organic (see below for my top 5 reasons to choose organic) but rather the question is how to integrate organic options in to our lives effectively.
There is no doubt that choosing organic will increase the nutrient density and reduce the pesticide load of your foods. But it isn’t necessarily easy to choose organic for everything, every time.
An important consideration is food labelling. There are plenty of issues relating to food labelling but in this blog I am concerned with the labelling relating to the authenticity of the process of creating the food.
The production of organic foods helps to honor the balance of nature through “old fashioned” farming methods. Conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones are never used on organic farms. Instead, they use renewable resources and focus on soil and water conservation to help preserve the environment for future generations.
Organic certification is the key to ensuring that what you purchase is in fact organic. In Australia, there are seven bodies accredited by AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) to implement the National Standard for Organic and Bio-dynamic Produce (The Standard). Under The Standard, certified organic products are required to display the name, address or number of the certified operator, and the approved certifying organisation’s name and address, and/or logo or trademark. Due to packaging space constraints however, often only the number of the certified operator and the logo of the certification body is included.
Furthermore, consumers need to know what the different organic labels mean:
100% organic must have all their ingredients (except salt and water) derived from organic production methods.
Organic products must have at least 95% of their ingredients (except salt and water) derived from organic production methods. Remaining product ingredients must consist only of approved substances, which does not include ingredients derived from genetically modified technology, those treated with ionising radiation, or those that interfere with the natural metabolism of livestock and plants. Any ingredient that has not been derived from organic production methods must be clearly indicated in the product’s list of ingredients.
Made with organic ingredients must have at least 70% of its ingredients of agricultural origin derived from organic production methods. Any ingredient used that has not been derived from organic production methods must be clearly indicated in the product’s list of ingredients.
Products containing less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the term organic on the main or front label. However, reference can be made in the ingredients list to any ingredients used that have been derived from organic production methods.
Alas – in Australia – until new laws are implemented (which I believe will occur shortly) there will continue to be a lot of confusion over the terms “natural”, “organic” and “certified organic”. Because there is no one policing labels that use these terms, it is possible to buy a product that has over 95% synthetic material and a very small amount of an organic herb and they could have “natural” or “organic” noted on the label. This is why you need to seek out organic certification.
So, getting back to integrating organics into your life.
Considering that fats and fat products (like butter, eggs and meat) store pesticides and chemicals, it follows that one should start their campaign towards an organic revolution by choosing organic when it comes to these products.
Secondly, find a good source of organic fruit and vegetables. Where possible, choose organic for fruit and vegetables or at the very least, choose seasonal produce.
Taking these small steps towards an organic lifestyle reminds me of Armstrong’s infamous line, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” (And it’s the closest I imagine we’ll ever get to the moon).
My top 5 reasons to choose organic:
- It tastes better and is more nutritious
- No synthetic chemicals (including GMOs) are used in its production
- It’s good for our soil, water and the environment
- It supports our farmers
- It helps to protect future generations