Welcome To Organic September
At this time of year, we always support the Soil Association in its campaign to raise the profile of organic farming and sustainability. It's so relevant to be thinking about the impact of our food production around harvest time.
We often wonder why there is such a big thing made about organic food when it should simply be 'food'. In its unadulterated, unmolested form organic food is just food as close to nature as it should be. Everything else should have to have a weird name. I'm sure calling other fruits and veg by the pesticides they've been covered in would be deeply unappealing; glyphosate grapes or round-up runner beans don't have quite the same ring do they? Yet it is organic which is singled out as somehow weird, different, hippy, and yet, somehow, also bourgeois.
At The Natural Life Shop, this is obviously something we feel extremely passionate about. One of the founding principles of the shop under Angie and Sally was to make organic food available to everyone at the best possible prices. We continue to work with companies like Infinity, which track the actual cost of their products and raise and reduce the price to the end customer accordingly. We love that this genuine take on pricing is passed on to our customers!
Yes, these days it can be a slightly more expensive option. It's a sad fact that farming without chemical boosters does often yield a smaller crop and smaller harvest thereby driving price. However, when you weigh this up against the environmental and human health impact of using said boosters, is it really more costly in the long run?
The benefits of organic farming are many; it is protective of pollinators which we will continue to need for crop maturation and fruiting harvests, protective of our soils which are being depleted of minerals by mass farming methods, and foods that are more bioactive and better for our health (a plant that has fewer protections e.g. pesticides, has to fight to survive and develops more terpenes, anthocyanins, antioxidants, etc. in order to prolong its life, these are the bits which are essential for humans consuming them and in this case more = better).
We're farming our way to pollinator destruction at an alarming pace at present and we can only guess at how long this will remain sustainable. When our pollinators are no longer abundant enough to pollinate our food crops, harvests will fail and our food supply will dwindle. Not to mention that the impact of a declining insect population will have huge ramifications throughout the food chain. Birds, rodents, amphibians, and other insectivorous animals will lose their food sources which will drive the decline of our wildlife and have an unknowable impact on the diversity of life on this planet.
The impact of eating an organic diet isn't to be sniffed at either! So many people come to us with chronic health issues which may well be driven or exacerbated by chemicals they are consuming or being exposed to. When the gardener is telling you to keep the dog(s) in for the afternoon after they've been spraying something around the garden, you can bet it's not just the dogs it will be bad news for.
We are exposed to so much on a daily basis through cleaning products in the home and office, the flame retardants on furniture, toiletries, smoke from woodburning stoves, open fires and bonfires (at this time of year especially), waterproofing on clothes, airborne particles from vehicles, and yes, chemicals used on our food to improve crop yield and boost crop size, even compounds used to treat our drinking water. It's not really any surprise that some people are less able to manage this toxic load and become symptomatic. Yes, the liver is an amazing organ, but a lot of people (more than you imagine) have some kind of genetic difference that impacts their ability to detoxify effectively.
Now with all of that in mind, we know that choosing organic still isn't within reach for some households. This is where it can be really helpful to know about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Essentially, this is a list of products that are less contaminated when not organic (the clean fifteen) and a list that is always worth buying organic wherever you can (the dirty dozen). It changes on an annual basis and is monitored by the Environmental Working Group. This year's list is available here, but we'll include both here for you for ease of use.