Organic systems recognise that our health is directly connected to the food we eat and, so ultimately, to the health of the soil and standards are certified here in the UK by The Soil Association.
Farmers who are part of the Association aim to produce good food from a balanced, living soil. Strict regulations, known as standards, define what they can and can't do. These standards place strong emphasis on protecting the environment.
The word organic is defined by law and anything labelled as such must meet this strict set of standards.
The main features of farming this way include:
Put simply, organic food contains more of the good stuff we need, and less of the bad stuff that we don't need.
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We all know the importance of getting our five-a-day, but eating five organic fruit and vegetables a day is even better.
No other foods have higher amounts of beneficial minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins.
A non-certified apple can be sprayed up to 16 times with 36 different chemicals, many of which cannot simply be washed off. The latest Government tests, carried out in 2005, found pesticides in 80% of apple samples.
Organic milk, according to research carried out by scientists in Britain and across Europe, has nearly 70% more essential fatty acid omega-3 than its non-certified equivalent. Essential fatty acids are essential for maintaining normal bodily functions.
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Many people buy food without pesticides because they believe it tastes better than the alternative. This could be because fruit and vegetables grown to these standards tend to grow more slowly and have a lower water content, which may contribute to the fuller flavour some people experience.
On average, food grown to Soil Association standards contains higher levels of vitamin C and essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and chromium as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Only 32 of the 290 food additives approved for use across the EU are permitted.
The best way of reducing your exposure to potentially harmful pesticides is to eat organically grown food, where their use is avoided.
Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under Soil Association standards.
Goods comes from trusted sources; farms and food companies are inspected at least once a year. and the standards are laid down in European law.
Overall organic farming supports more farmland wildlife than non-organic farming. The UK government has said that it is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide - the main global warming gas - and less dangerous wastes.
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