Eating organic is a sensible decision for anyone who wants to adopt a healthful, environmentally friendly and humane lifestyle.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is an organisation that promotes organic farming. It proposes the following six basic principles for growing and consumption of organic food.
Soil improvement: Much ‘conventional’ farming depletes the soil. Organic growers maintain and improve natural fertility and biodiversity and return organic wastes to the soil. They do not use artificial fertilisers that consume energy, damage soil life over time and pollute natural waterways.
Energy use: Most modern farming is energy intensive. On certified organic farms. labour intensive techniques reduce fuel inputs, soils are not over-cultivated, intensive housing and long periods of artificial light for animals are banned, and energy-expensive chemical pesticides are not used.
Reduced pollution: Conventional farms pollute the environment with pesticides, and sometimes with effluent, and by causing dust. On certified organic farms synthetic poisons are not used, general care of the environment and sustainability is monitored and must be of a high standard, and soil is carefully cultivated and kept covered with plants or mulch.
Quality produce: The nutritional quality of food is hardly considered by conventional growers. On organic farms, the emphasis on ‘feeding the soil’ by the return of organic wastes, balanced mineral nutrition and soil structure development results in improved nutrition in the produce. Organic food is not treated with long-lasting synthetic pesticides before or after harvest, and only ‘natural’ food additives are permitted in processed product.
Local consumption: As far as possible, organic farms are run on a ‘closed system’. Local resources are used, and wastes are returned to the soil. Fewer materials are imported onto the farm.
Employment: Organic farms provide employment for people, which is satisfying and rewarding. Certified organic farms are expected to meet high standards of social justice.
These principles apply to processed organic products as well as fresh produce.