Footprint Blog

Organic food is no better for you says FSA report

Posted in Comment,Diet,Economics,Provenance by foodservicefootprint on July 29, 2009

organic hands

So organic food is no better for us than ‘ordinary food’. ‘Ordinary food’? To anybody over 60, organic food is ordinary food – it’s the homogenised fare offered by the supermarkets today that is different; it’s just become the norm.

But what of organic and the so called ‘organic movement’?  Does research such as this FSA commissioned document represent an early death knell? Possibly. ‘Organic’ has moved from a production method to an accreditation. When once it represented an ethos championing the production of food stuff to traditional methods, without the use of chemicals to stimulate, enhance or protect, today the word organic has become a retail category assuring the customer of a product’s production provenance. 

The organic movement has successfully drawn our attention to the fact that a lot of the food we eat today is produced in an arguably unnatural way and has made us want to know more about the provenance of our diet. This is excellent. But there is another side to this argument. To call your farm and your product organic, you have to be accredited by one of a number of organisations, the Soil Association being the most high profile. To achieve this accreditation means you have to undertake an audit and this audit costs money. Quite a lot of money. Rather more money than increasing numbers of cash strapped farmers will bear, and herein lies the story. 

Due to the demand for ‘high provenance’, naturally produced product, there are increasing numbers of farmers producing what is known as ‘uncertified organic’ ie that which is produced to organic methods without the expense of the accreditor’s fee, and finding ready markets throughout the country, not least in the burgeoning numbers of farm shops and farmers markets. 

Assuming that demand for this sort of product increases, might it be suggested that more and more farmers will begin to question the necessity of jumping through each year’s new set of accreditation goalposts, when they know they have a market for their products with or without an accreditation? And furthermore, does the paying public want organic or just comfort in the knowledge that they know where their food comes from?

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