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Real Foods and the Soil Association

Be Sure About Organic Food

All Real Foods organic packs have the Soil Association symbol on them to give our customers the confidence to buy them without hesitation

You can buy Real Foods Organic label goods knowing that there are no nasty surprises about what is in them.

We are members of the Soil Association and use their symbol because it ensures complete traceability for all our own brand organic lines.

So, what is the Soil Association and what does their symbol mean?

Who they are

The Soil Association, founded in 1946, is a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists.

This group were aware of a direct connection between farming practice and plant, animal, human and environmental health.

Today the Soil Association is the UK's leading organic organisation based in Bristol and Edinburgh.

Certification inspectors from the association work across the country.

Their history

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of far-sighted individuals concerned about the health implications of increasingly intensive agricultural systems following World War II.

The principal concerns were:

  • The loss of soil through erosion and depletion
  • Decreased nutritional quality of intensively produced food
  • Exploitation of animals in intensive units
  • Impact of large intensive farming system on the countryside and wildlife

For  thirty years the Association was based on a farm in Suffolk and was primarily involved in basic research as well as building a membership base.

The farm was divided into three units, one farmed using the new intensive techniques, one farmed traditionally and one with mixed system.

At the end of this period the results were not as clear as had been hoped, however a much clearer understanding had been built up of how the best of old and new traditions in land husbandry could be combined, and so the first organic standards were compiled defining this system.

In 1967, the first Soil Association standards were drawn up.

They stated that the basis for the success of any organic enterprise is the creation and sustenance of a living soil.

"The use of, or abstinence from, any particular practice should be judged by its effect on the well-being of the micro-organic life of the soil, on which the health of the consumer ultimately depends."

This is still true today.

During the 70s there was beginning to be a demand from consumers and farmers for a system to show that food had been produced to the Soil Association standards.

The certification system set up in 1973 is now used to provide an independent audit and tracking system from the individual field through to the final packing.

About 80% of UK organic food is certified by the Soil Association.

In the mid-1980s a number of supermarkets began to stock organic food and this (combined with Pat and Tony Archer from the Radio Four series becoming organic) brought a new credibility to the movement.

However the numbers of organic farmers remained small until the launch in 1995 of the Organic Aid Scheme of aid from the government to help farmers through the difficult conversion process of 2 to 5 years.

Organic land in the UK accounts for nearly 4% of agricultural land.

Organic farmers  receive on-going support in recognition of the environmental benefits they deliver and this is encouraging more farmers to manage their land organically.

The demand for organic food is increasing every year.

Soil Association symbol

The Soil Association symbol is the UK's most recognised trademark for organic produce.

When used on food packaging, it tells you that produce is certified to high organic standards and provides an assurance of organic authenticity.

The organic symbol is valued by farmers, growers, processors and retailers as an important mark of their professionalism and integrity.

The organic symbol is a trademark of the Soil Association and protected by copyright. Only our licensees are entitled to use this symbol and only in association with the organic products that are included on their licence.


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