Organics: The what, why and how

Organic food is a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for ages. I’m a total devotee to eating organically grown food whenever I can and below I explain why.

The what:

Put very simply organic food is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, or genetically modified organisms and with a focus on environmentally sustainable practices.

Unfortunately in Australia there is no legally binding definition for the term organic. However, you can be sure you’re buying the real deal by only buying products that are labeled ‘certified organic’ and that display one of the following logos on the product packaging.

When you buy ‘certified organic’ produce you can be assured that the food has been grown (and processed, if applicable) in accordance with the organic standards and that the farmer/producer is audited on a regular basis to ensure compliance. The organic standards cover all aspects of food production from paddock to plate.

The why:

Our health

While the science on whether eating organic food is beneficial for human health is inconclusive, to me it makes perfect sense that eating food that hasn’t been sprayed with a cocktail of synthetic chemicals is far better than eating food that has. I truly believe the science will eventually show that eating organic foods over a lifetime has health benefits.

Animal welfare

The animal welfare standards on organic farms are higher than those on conventional farms. According to the organic standards, animals must be free range, stocking densities are lower when compared with conventional farming practices and painful mutilations are generally prohibited.


Organic farming practices are designed to protect the natural environment rather than degrade it. Maintaining soil fertility, preventing pollution of the air and waterways and protecting biodiversity are all integral to organic farming.


Organic farming methods are better for farmers as they are not exposed to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which can cause significant health problems. Organic farming is also usually more profitable thereby allowing the survival of smaller family farms.

The how:

When buying organic produce always look for the term ‘certified organic’ and an organic logo to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Many of the large metropolitan supermarkets now carry a range of organic foods but if you’re like me and you’d rather shop elsewhere, you can shop for organic food at farmer’s markets, specialty stores or online. You could also seek out an organic co-op in your area, which is a great way to cut down on the cost of organic food.

The bottom line

The only real downside to organic food is the cost. Unfortunately organic food is usually more expensive but you’ve got to decide if your health, higher animal welfare standards, environmental protection and supporting farmers is something you’re willing to pay a bit more for. I know for me it certainly is!


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