Large scale industrial farming has had wide-ranging, world-wide effects on our planet. It has contaminated our environment by the use of vast amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. Land is managed without regard for maintaining the soil's fertility or the health of the surrounding eco-system and wild-life. This has had a significant impact on biodiversity, with many species being in decline. Water- pollution is on the rise, and the food we consume is becoming increasingly loaded with toxic substances. Because so much farming is exported overseas, where land is used on a vast scale to produce crops and meat for export, local populations are being deprived of the resources they depend on and deforestation is progressing on an alarming scale, with 80% of the world's forests having been destroyed already.
The principles of organic farming are aimed at ensuring a respectful and economic treatment of the land and its resources, as well as the ethical treatment of life-stock. In practice, this means that organically produced food is grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically manipulated crops, that the land it is grown on is managed in such a way as to preserve it as a habitat for wildlife, as well as to preserve its fertility for future generations.
Farm animals must be allowed to live in a way that is suited to the physical, mental and emotional needs of their species, e.g. by providing them plenty of outdoor access and space to move on natural ground, and feeding them a natural, species-appropriate diet. They must have ample outdoor access and space.
The benefits of organic farming are clear. If we are to preserve the fertility of our land, its vital biodiversity and the beauty of our natural environment, a more ethical, ecological way to produce food must replace conventional, industrial farming.
But not everything that says "organic" on the label is genuinely organic. Without credible certification, anyone can label their product "organic" or "natural". To ensure that a product is genuinely organic, look for these certifications:
Soil Association (to view their logo see sacert.org)
European Organic Certification (to view EU-organic logo see here)
Unfortunately, anything that can be used to make money is subject to exploitation by those looking to make a profit. Not all organic food is produced to the same, strict standards, and there are cases of unethical practices even in certified businesses. EU-label certified food can be particularly affected by this, because the controlling body is not entirely independent of governments and on the whole, less transparent. Non-profit organisations such as the Soil Association are more trustworthy and apply higher standards.
So it is important to remain alert and to continue demanding high standards and boycotting any brands/businesses with a negative track-record. Your choices as a consumer can make a political statement. Where you put your money sends a message and makes a difference. Don't waste that power.
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