You probably hear a lot about organic farming, organic food, organic clothes, organic beauty products… organic everything! But have you ever really stopped to wonder what organic actually means and why it’s so important and good for all of us? Well here is some basic information on what “organic” really means.
What is organic?
Saying what organic is not is a good place to start. Farming is important; supplying our food, the fibres we make clothes and personal hygiene from such as cotton, linen and flax, as well as some plants used to make many body care products from. So from the seeds that are planted in the soil through to their growing and processing, there is the potential for a huge impact on the Earth’s soil, our water and the air we breathe.
Using powerful chemicals like pesticides to kill insects, herbicides to kill wild plants, artificial fertilisers, called nitrates, to force plants to grow in tired, poor soil, even perhaps using genetically modified seeds to grow the plants from, are common practices used in most farming around the world. The pesticide and herbicides sprayed on the plants and the nitrates dug into the soil eventually find there way over time into our rivers, seas and oceans; poisoning wildlife and polluting our drinking water. But these nasty chemicals and artificial inputs are never used in organic farming. That is great for the food we eat, the fibres and herbs we use, the health of the soil we grow our crops in, the purity of our water, the air we breathe and the conservation of wildlife.
Organic standards also look after the wellbeing of animals – chickens, for example, must be free ranging (not kept in cages all their lives) and the flocks can’t be too big.
How much is enough?
For anything to be called Organic, be it food, fibres such as cotton or cosmetics, it must be made from at least 95% organically grown and processed ingredients. The remaining 5% has to be from an allowed list of ingredients – but that’s the basic idea of organic certification. Some products can be called “made from” as long as they are over 75% organic. Any less than this, it may be labelled as “made with organic ingredients”, but this only means it has at least one organic thing in it, so read labels carefully.
Why is organic so important?
Apart from feeding us, organic farming helps to protect bees and birds as well as fish in nearby rivers and lakes. Organic standards also ban the use of important wild areas like rainforests and mangrove swamps to grow commercial crops, so you’re also helping to protect the world’s rare and precious resources.
Hopefully, now you know more about it, you can feel more informed when you decide what to eat, wear and put on your face.