Try organic!

Why everyone should join in with the Soil Association’s Organic September campaign

This month sees the return of Organic September, the Soil Association’s campaign to raise consumer awareness of organic living and to encourage people to find, try and buy organic products. Throughout the month, shops, farms and producers will be encouraging the public to join them and experience what it means to be organic, showcasing how easy it is to shop and cook with organic ingredients, as well as highlighting the wealth of produce available from supermarkets and independent retailers.

Organic September has been perfectly timed to see some of Britain’s most popular everyday fruits and vegetables coming into season such as apples, blackberries, pears and plums while vegetables include beetroots, carrots, field mushrooms, kale, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkin and squashes, sweetcorn, tomatoes and watercress.

However, it is not only fruit and vegetables that are organic – it’s the full shopping basket. This year alone, over 1,000 new products were certified by Soil Association Certification, from wine and cheese to tea, chocolates and hot cross buns!

Organic facts and figures

• The Soil Association has seen a significant increase in the number of people buying organic food over the past five years and the market grew 7 per cent in 2016.

• On average, plant, insect and bird life is 50 per cent more abundant on organic farms. Organic farms are also home to 30 per cent more species on average.

• Over 1,000 new products were certified by Soil Association Certification in the last six months including nut butters, superfoods and nutritional products, seaweeds and sea vegetables.

The highest standards

Having a Soil Association accreditation means that whenever you see the organic symbol on a product you can be sure what you buy has been produced to the very highest standards. It means fewer pesticides, no artificial additives or preservatives, the highest standards of animal welfare and no GM ingredients.

Organic has a fully traceable supply chain right back to the farm. It’s inspected at every stage of the process meaning you really can know what’s in your food and how it has been produced. Clare McDermott from Soil Association Certification, the UK’s leading organic certification body said: “Organic September is all about raising awareness that organic is food as it should be, while showcasing the huge number of organic products that are now out there. Small changes can make a huge difference. Choosing organic means helping protect our vital wildlife and reducing your exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals. Demand for more organic food means more organic farms. More organic farms mean more wildlife and more animals raised to the highest welfare standards.”

Dates for your diary

Throughout September there will be numerous events taking place up and down the country, making it easy for anyone and everyone to try organic. Highlights of Organic September include:

  • 8 to 9 September: Go! Organic Festival, Battersea Park, London.

  • 15 September: Organic September Saturday, a day when independent retailers will open their doors and offer samples, tastings and talks to showcase their organic fare.

  • 22 September: Daylesford Harvest Festival.

  • 23 September: Organic Open Gate Sunday.

Did you know?

Organic can sometimes be more expensive – but not every time. Staples like pulses, pasta, rice and wholegrains are often the same price. Buying directly from farmers or through box schemes helps too. Eating organic can be achievable for everyone by planning meals in advance, eating less but better meat, or trying different, cheaper cuts of meat and seasonal ingredients. When organic does cost more, you’re paying for the extra care organic farmers place on the environment and animal welfare.

5 reasons to go organic

1. Fewer pesticides: Almost 300 pesticides can routinely be used in non-organic farming. Many of these remain in the food we eat, despite washing and cooking.

2. No artificial colours and preservatives: Hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial food colourings and preservatives are all banned under organic standards.

3. Always free range: Organic means the very highest animal welfare as standard.

4. No routine use of antibiotics: Organic means healthier animals raised without the need for routine or preventative use of antibiotics.

5. No GM ingredients: GM ingredients and crops are banned under Soil Association standards.

The Soil Association has produced a starter pack to help food lovers learn more about organic, featuring lots of great discount offers from organic brands, plus hints and tips for going organic, recipes, an events calendar, competitions and more. Visit www.soilassociation.org/organicseptember

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