Organic Shmorganic


In this post I mentioned how labelling is a big issue to artisan producers, but perhaps not in the way you might think.

The labelling itself is the actual problem as it amalgamates all degrees of production standards under one pre-packaged label.

What you should ask yourself is:

What do you think you have been sold?

and then,

What have you been sold?

I pick up on “Organic” because the perceptions of that label are pretty far removed from the reality.

If you buy a can of Coke then you know what you are getting. You might have seen adverts telling you it’s cool or refreshing but you don’t expect it to save the world. You do with “Organic”.

Organic is free from pesticides right??   Wrong. You just need a derogation to use them. If an organic farmer has a weed problem or her lambs have a worm problem then they get the treatment. If you read the SAs own section on pesticides you get the impression that all organic produce is free from pesticides.

Now the aims and ideals of the Soil Association are laudable and beyond reproach but the question is how trustworthy is the brand sticker? Particularly with small producers? Some farms are simply not suited to an Organic system, especially not immediately after they have been damaged by poor farming.

Genuine producers need to make the decision whether to sell compromised products as “Organic”. For example I would never sell meat to any of my customers that had been treated with antibiotics – that animal goes to market and someone in a supermarket somewhere gets more than they paid for.

A small producer has spent more producing her lambs Organically on the basis that she gets paid more for them as “Organic”. Does she throw away that premium for the sake of her food integrity?

Again the key here is honesty. Genuine producers would want to let you know about their animal welfare and with the way the Internet is changing business there is no reason why they can’t provide that information free of charge. Just saying, “We farm organically” means what exactly?

I was introduced to John and Vicky Brownby our Brilliant local Slow Food Group rep., Sue Braithwaite. They produce some fabulous Rose Veal down in Cornwall and through the wonders of Facebook you can actually watch a video of their happy animals and the amazing lengths they go to to ensure the welfare of their stock. They even have automatic milk dispensers that remembers how much each calf needs. I’ll do more on the whole Veal thing another time but in the mean time I’d get ordering some of their fantastic, honest Veal.

The point is that in order to be sure of the integrity of the food you buy, I’d stick to the producers doing business in an open and honest way and not the ones hiding behind pre-packaged labels.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] featured John and Vicky Brown in a couple of articles this week. I turn on the TV this morning and they are all over the BBC news. As I have said […]

  2. 2

    […] I have said before, “Organic” isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be and the post on grass fed beef illustrates why that is. Organic meat is just as likely (if not […]

  3. 3

    […] blogged here and here about the lack of integrity in the Organic brand (for that is all it is) and in this post […]

  4. 4

    […] course the real problem is that the supermarket meat we buy (organic status is irrelevant) is creating the imbalance in the first place. If we didn’t do this in the first place we […]

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