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You’re probably reading this because you already share with us the belief that organic food and farming is a ‘better’ choice than conventional or intensively farming. And hopefully you’re also reading this because you want to understand more why this is the case and how choosing organic produce and grass fed meat supports both the planet’s and human health…
Many of us know that organic methods are kinder to animals and earth, but did you know that eating organic food actually benefits our bodies too?
In 2016, a meta-analysis by Newcastle University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, confirmed that organic milk and meat contains lower levels of saturated fats and around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic alternatives. The ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids is also much more in favour of the beneficial omega-3. These polyunsaturated fats cannot be synthesized by your body so must be consumed in your diet. Omega-3 is believed to play an important role in anti-inflammation, potentially reducing the risk of modern chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
Although low concentrations of both omega-3 and omega-6 are recommended for a healthy diet, limiting intake of omega-6, thought to be pro-inflammatory, is recommended. This fatty acid is associated with the modern Western diet, found in things like grain fed animal produce - particularly processed meats, vegetable oils and processed foods that contain them.
The review study also highlighted the difference in omega-3 levels particularly in organically produced beef, but can be seen in products such as milk, cheese and butter.
But why? The difference is clover. Organic animals, in particular those grass fed for life, consume a much high level of clover in their diet. Clover is used in organic farming as a natural nitrogen fixer, in place of manufactured chemical fertilisers. It is clover that increases the level of omega-3 fatty acids stored and therefore found in meat and milk.
Over and above the omegas, organic milk and dairy products contain higher concentrations of iron, vitamin E and some carotenoids. Organic milk also contains less iodine and around 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is linked to a range of health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers and obesity.
In terms of fruit, veg and other organic crops, the most up-to-date research shows that organic produce is of a much higher nutritional quality than non-organic produce. There is strong evidence to suggest that switching to organic can lead to increased intake of beneficial antioxidants, up to 69% more than non-organic, as well as a reduced intake of harmful cadmium (a toxic heavy metal) and pesticides.
Did you know that soil is a non-renewable resource? Every living thing on this planet relies on our soils to survive.
Nature teaches that you must give to receive. You need to water your rose to enjoy the blooms. However, this rule has been forgotten in conventional farming, where over-ploughing and persistent reliance on chemical pesticides and fertilisers has resulted in devastating soil erosion, chemical run-off polluting waterways, and chemical-resistance in weeds and insects.
Organic systems eliminate all synthetic and petroleum-based pesticides and fertilisers, which immediately drastically reduces soil and water contamination. Organic farms actively work to enhance soil life, natural soil fertility and water quality, allowing wildlife to thrive and natural diversity to exist alongside sustainable commerciality.
This means that organic methods add to the natural humus as much as possible. Humus is basically a glue within the soil (no chickpeas involved) that stops the rivers running brown after a storm, or strong winds carrying dust from fragile upper layers of food-growing fields. It plays a huge part in the health of all living things, which of course ultimately become organic matter too, but it does need our help.
If organic matter across the planet can be improved by 1.6% we can reverse the effects of global warming and subsequent climate change. We need to support the organic ways and spread the organic word, for our own health and health of our trusty, little planet.
With an exploding global population, our planet is feeling the strain of feeding the masses. Aside from stripping the world of limited resources, increased production and industrialisation is taking its toll on our climate. Accounting for around 1/3 of total greenhouse gas emissions is agriculture…
But it’s not all bad news. Organic farming has shown its worth in limiting agricultural impact on this figure. In fact, if half of all farming in the European Union converted to organic by 2030, we could cut EU GHG emissions by a 23%. This is due to soil carbon sequestration and reduced use of mineral fertilisers.
Healthy soils are incredibly important stores of carbon, containing three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests!
If all UK farming was converted to organic, more than 1.3 million tonnes of carbon would be stored in the soil each year. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road. If that’s not a compelling argument we’re not sure what is!