Today, European Union, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification to market their food as organic.
Wikipedia rightly observe that –
‘From an environmental perspective, fertilizing, overproduction, and the use of pesticides in conventional farming may negatively affect ecosystems, biodiversity, groundwater, and drinking water supplies. These environmental and health issues are intended to be minimised or avoided in organic farming.’
But Wikipedia add this comment:
‘However, the outcome of farming organically may not produce such benefits because organic agriculture has higher production costs and lower yields, higher labor costs, and higher consumer prices.’
Certainly Wikipedia is right about the higher consumer costs. A cynic might say that some fruit and veg stores are simply getting in on the organic act at the moment to increase their profit margins and don’t truly have their hearts in it.
A visit to local Freo stores store recently showed that bananas range in price from around $3.00 per kilo for ‘ordinary’ or conventionally farmed ones to around $6.00 per kilo for organic ones. The price comparison is much the same for many other goods. Very occasionally there are exceptions.
Plainly, the demand for organics is primarily driven by consumer concerns for personal health and the environment, but many observers say that there is insufficient evidence in the scientific and medical literature to support claims that organic food is either safer or healthier for you to eat than conventional food. No doubt fans of organics would want to contest these views.
Others reasonably observe, however, that while there may be some differences in the nutrient and anti-nutrient contents of organically produced and ordinary products, the variable nature of food production, shipping, storage, and handling makes it difficult to generalise results.
Similarly there is disputation around claims that ‘organic food tastes better’. Perhaps, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, taste is in the tongue of the taster!
The organic certification bodies currently in Australia are:
Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
Organic Food Chain
Bio-Dynamic Research Institute
Safe Food QLD
Two of these bodies, NASAA & ACO, also have their own additional requirements – such as conditions for international organic standards, allowing producers to export internationally. Each organic certification body must comply with the national standard, on top of this the certifying body may have additional requirements for their members to comply with.
ACO would appear to be the most prominent in terms of coverage. On their website they say that over 70% of organic certified operators in Australia are granted permission to use the ACO logo, which they refer to as the “BUD”.
If your supplier is saying their produce is spray free you might inquire –
• How is it grown?
In both cases you also want to know –
• How do you protect your crops?
• Do you use GMO (genetically modified)seeds?
• What do you feed your livestock?
• Do you rear your livestock hormone/chemical/antibiotic-
• Are your livestock free range/caged/pasture-based?
We at the Shipping News are looking forward to the day there is much more competition in the local organics market, both in store and online. Most well known local fruit and veg stores around the Freo area have or are developing dedicated organic sections. Some are really quite impressive, although they don’t exactly tell you much about where their produce has come from, just how local it is. We need more consumer information in this regard. Perhaps the farms of origin can be advertised.